Friday, December 14, 2012
For most of my life I was basically an angry young man, pissed off about the state of the world but in no way holding myself responsible for it.
Now I’m a parent, and not young, and that role no longer fits my life. Other people depend on me for making their world safe, meaningful, supportive. I am no great shakes at this, it doesn't really come naturally, but I suppose I muddle through OK just as most parents do. My children are alive, healthy, growing up, and starting to find their own ways. And guess what? They are angry too, sometimes justifiably, and I find myself unwillingly playing the other side of that drama.
I don’t have a hell of a lot of influence on the larger world, so all I can do is create small local spaces that are reasonable safe and supportive. And try to do my part to influence the larger world, through voting or making my opinions known. It’s not much, but what else can I do? Other people have pretensions to being in charge.
Well, if those people are in in fact in charge, they have failed. It’s probably more accurate to say that nobody is in charge. Obama is the president, but he can’t stop a mass slaughter of kindergarten children, and he can’t act to stop climate change.
If nobody is in charge then there is nobody to blame, which seems to be exactly equivalent to saying that we are all to blame. We have all failed in our most basic responsibility, to create a safe world for our children. My personal righteousness on these issues means nothing. Feeling guilty accomplishes nothing. Joining the choir of exhortation to improve may be a bit better, but it’s basically farting in a hurricane.
Maybe some good will come out of today; maybe the political system will snap out of its stupor and realize that we need fewer guns and more mental health resources. Maybe. But a lot of good that does the murdered children and their families.
Climate change is very different from this sort of incident, that will convulse the media for a few days and then be forgotten. It’s big, it’s slow, but it’s going to kill a lot more than 28 people. But we seem entirely unable to act as responsible adults about either of these issues, and most others.
On behalf of the entire adult world I want to beg forgiveness from my children. They have every right to be angry, and since there is no proper target for their anger other than everything, they may need to take it out on me.