Our 24/7 news cycle, tribalism, decline of community organizations (whether fraternal, religious or otherwise) and social media obsession has led to an unhealthy replacement for culture: politics. In the past, politics was important, but it didn’t occupy the oversized place in our society or hearts that it does today. People cry and go into depression when their candidate loses. They adopt conspiracy theories to compensate for the great injustice of a X winning. They judge their political messiahs and the opposing demons in absolute terms. Pure evil or good, depending on which side of the issue you are on. The other side is made up of deplorable, unpatriotic, inhuman troglodytes instead of people who see a different path to a solution. The difference of viewpoint, or even the idea that someone holds a different viewpoint on something, is deemed unacceptable and must be punished or shamed into compliance with our sides ideas. The idea of having people disagree but tolerate one another and our differences is gone. One must celebrate those things that one disagrees with political, socially or culturally or one is deemed evil.
They attend worship services of political celebrities and yell their affirmations as modern day “Amens”. They envision Utopia if their candidate wins and apocalypse if their candidate loses.
This is all terribly unhealthy. Government, and therefore politics, should be an important but small part of our lives. Politics as replacement for religion or real community is unable to meet the deep felt needs of the soul or human companionship. It is always destined to disappointment and create greater anger at the unfulfilled promise of a better world if only my candidate, issue wins.
I don’t see an end to it anytime soon. The camps are entrenched. People are convinced that their side and person and issue is exactly right with no compromise. Facts are not relevant unless they support our political, social feelings and our tribal orthodoxy. Unless we can grow up and say “I think you’re wrong, but I don’t hate you” and then have rational discussions not punctuated by “Ya! YA! And you smell bad too! And your candidate is a MONSTER!” then societal frustration and stalemate, even in this greatest time to be alive in history, will be our lot. I’m reminded once again of my favorite philosophical prose from Samuel Johnson on Governments.
“How small, of all that human hearts endure,
That part which laws or kings can cause or cure.
Still to ourselves in every place consign’d,
Our own felicity we make or find:”