Okay, I admit it. I was a completely failure as a blogger today. On the other hand, my hair looks great, my mom is happy, my sister has worked her way through her latest (real) crisis, and I’m going out with my husband tonight — so, at a personal level, it’s been a pretty decent day all around.
I’m still grappling with that big idea. I’m seeing a lot of threads lately, and I think they weave into a whole cloth. The bits and pieces revolve around the fact that we’ve finally reached the logical conclusion of the “If it feels good, do it” movement of the 1960s. I was on the young side, then, but I still remember that. Nothing was good, nothing was bad; it was just our feelings that should decide things. Oh, sure, there were some things we shouldn’t feel, like the lust to murder or rape, but otherwise, hey, anything goes. That was the start, but it was a start that was still hemmed in by people who had been raised by a traditional morality, even if they were consciously abandoning parts of it. But now? Here are the pieces that I know are related, but I can’t quite stitch into a coherent whole:
1. Liberals freely acknowledging that Obama was unqualified, but voting for him because it felt right to vote for a black man.
2. Roman Polanski saying he really couldn’t see that he did anything wrong when he drugged and raped a 13 year old child, because it really felt like the right thing to do.
3. An enormous number of Hollywood famous folk defending Polanski, the child rapist, because they feel good about him as a person.
4. The Challenge Day at my daughter’s school, which is a giant be-in (yes, kids learn to “Live their lives in service by Being the Change”), one that seems to believe that bullying can be stopped by making everyone feel, at least temporarily, like a victim.
5. Oprah. So much that is wrong with our modern society is all about Oprah. Back in the 1980s, I attended a Peter, Paul and Mary concert, during which Noel “Paul” Stookey told a little joke that has stuck with me for more than 20 years. He was commenting on the magazine publishing business. “First,” he said, “there was People. People. That’s a big concept. It’s about everyone. Next came Us. Still big, but the focus is shrinking. The next magazine on the market was Self, which has pretty much gotten rid of everyone else. I know that one day, I’m going to go to the market, and there’ll be a magazine called Me, and when I open it, there’ll be nothing in it but a big, shiny mirror.” Oprah, of course, presides over her own magazine, one in which women can read about (a) Oprah and (b) themselves, and how wonderful they are, even though they are victims.
6. “We are the change we’ve been waiting for.” What the heck does that mean beyond the fact that we’ve become our own moral compass?
7. A movie from the year 2000 called The Contender, which is one of the worst political movies ever made, and that’s entirely separate from its astonishing partisanship. The plot is simple. A women is being considered for the Democratic Vice Presidency apparently shows up in pictures of an orgy, and an evil Republican Congressman tries to destroy her. She refuses to defend herself, because she’s bigger than all that (even though she knows the pictures are false). The scene that sticks with me (and, mind you, I hadn’t even abandoned my liberal identity then) was the one in which the woman has an impassioned monologue in which she defends her own navel as the wellspring of all morality. Okay, she doesn’t use exactly those words, but that’s the point of the monologue: “I know what’s moral because I know it’s moral.” Something curdled in me when I watched that movie.
8. Obama’s speech to the UN, in which he said, essentially, America was foul before I become president, but it’s now wonderful.
9. Michelle Obama’s multiple statements to the effect that, until she and Obama came along to sacrifice themselves for America (by becoming the most powerful, feted people in the world), America was rotten.
All these threads. I know there’s a tapestry here, a single idea that ties them all together into a unified whole, but I can’t quite grasp it — and it’s completely blocking all my other writing. It gets in the way of everything I’m trying to think about.