Beginning on September 11, 2001, and with increasing speed since January 2009, I’ve had a very strong sense that the world — not just America, but the whole world — is unraveling. At home, venerable and often cherished institutions and ideas are falling into disrepair or being perverted beyond all recognition. Abroad, the Pax America that stabilized the world for so many years, with America acting not as a conqueror but as ballast, has broken down. I’m afraid of the world into which I’m launching my children. The dystopian future that become a stable of countless young adult novels seems to have become the dystopian present.
In many ways, the worst thing about watching the passing spectacle is that I’m helpless to do anything. Sure, I blog, but I recognize (and I don’t mean this with any disrespect, dear readers) that I’m mostly preaching to the choir. I’d be delighted if my words changed one mind, swaying one person from unthinking Progressivism to thoughtful conservatism, but I’m pretty sure that the best I can do is offer comfort and comradeship to people who share my values and my concerns. There’s nothing wrong with binding people together, but I don’t see what I’m doing as effecting any real change.
I’ve also tried to help my children understand that the Leftist political pieties forced upon them in their schools and through their media are false. Mostly, I’ve been successful — my children, when they’re willing to think at all about politics, seem to have absorbed my conservative world view, one that fears big government, believes in strong borders and self-defense, and is fanatic about a free market and the virtue for able-bodied people of self-reliance. I don’t know, though, if I’ve done them any favors. Their values clash with the world they’re entering and put them at odds with their generation. Maybe they could face their socialized, possibly Islamic, future with some equanimity if they didn’t believe in the alternative.
On my Facebook page, I politely tweak my Leftist friends by subtly inserting conservative ideas into their Feeds, but I’m not kidding myself. Even the most open-minded of them are open-minded only to the extent that they don’t “un-friend” me or get nasty. I can practically feel the pity radiating across the feed as they think “She was smart once. What the heck happened? Early dementia perhaps?” None think, “She has always been a really smart, well-informed person. Maybe she’s on to something.” Sigh.
Faced with a domestic scene that saddens me and an international scene that frightens me, I’ve come to a necessary conclusion if I’m to continue functioning — and I must continue functioning. After all, even as things come down around my ears, I still have meals to prepare, laundry to wash, bills to pay, and people (and dogs) dependent upon me for their care. I can’t allow existential anxiety to make me useless.
So here’s my philosophy: To the extent I can bring about change, I’ll fuss and try to come up with solutions that make a difference. However, when there’s nothing I do or say to make a damn bit of difference, I’m going to sit back and get whatever pleasure I can out of the show. I’ll only make myself crazy if I continuously bang my head against walls to no effect.
My lemonade-out-of-lemons philosophy applies strongly to Europe. If there were any way I could save it from its present existential collapse, I actually believe I would. However, because there is absolutely nothing I can do, I’m opting for the pleasures of Schadenfreude as I watch Europe’s passing parade.