I have a habit of mentally preparing for the worst, especially when I hope for the best.
I think my particular habit must stem from my father’s sudden death when I was a child: that experience installed a piece of software I’ve used ever since to insulate myself from unbearable shock. But it isn’t unique to me. I was recently reminded how having and losing are linked, just by observing how the discovery of love (an experience of abundance in the here and now) often propels us into the memory of its absence (why couldn’t I have had this sooner?), where we ricochet to the fear of its loss (how long will this last?). This is human.
I’m not in love with John Kerry, but I hope and pray and trust he will win this election. Unfortunately, I’ve been wrong before, so for the last few days, my background thoughts have been churning out a worst-case scenario. In some ways it is dreadful, of course: giving four more years to the deranged spoiled-rich mediocrity who presently occupies the White House would not be an encouraging development for poor and middle-class people in this country, our environment, or for that matter, the planet and all its inhabitants. But were that to happen, I anticipate a growth in dissent and social activism to rival, if not surpass, the sixties.
This weekend a friend from England visited. He’s very interested in freedom of expression issues (we met 30 years ago as founding members of a group that gives legal support to artists) and he told me he’d been conducting an informal survey while he was in the U.S. The results: while people were appalled by government attacks on civil liberties in the Patriot Act and elsewhere, they told him these things had not in fact \chilled\ dissent. Overall, even as more and draconian efforts are made to quell dissent, the expression of critical views is incredibly vigorous: more films, books, works of art, songs, demonstrations, protests, online organizations, letter-writing campaigns…
If Bush wins, the problem will be to support, nurture and develop this outpouring into meaningful alternatives; if Kerry wins, it will be to keep it alive during the “honeymoon,” knowing it will be sorely needed during the four or eight years of “marriage.” Meanwhile, for your Election Day delectation, treat yourself to the new anti-Bush Eminem video, “Mosh,” here’s a link to the video and another to the lyrics.