Cormac McCarthy, the Pulitzer Prize winning writer (recent guest on Oprah, and author of the book on which the latest major Coen Brothers release is based), is fond of having characters glass areas:
“When it was light enough to use the binoculars he glassed the valley below.”
That line from his The Road, “the most important environmental book ever written,”1 leads the reader into a realm which is “paling away into the murk.”
In a recent Counterpunch piece by Paul Craig Roberts, “Good-bye to All That,” it is noted that both Pat Buchanan and Naomi Wolf, “two writers of different political persuasions,” determine — from opposite angles of vision — that our country’s “demise” has arrived.
But neither Buchanan’s Day of Reckoning nor Wolf’s End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot touch upon our “demise” from the perspective of the citizenry. All pretty much laid at the feet of the powers-that-be, treating the most powerful player of all, The People, as a peripheral factor in our decline…by sin of omission.
I have personally been involved in trying to recruit citizens in the name of solidarity for quite some time,2 and whatever the official records may show (or not) respecting fissiparous unions, the proliferation (and simultaneous inefficacy) of anti-administration groups, decreasing numbers on the streets, etc., I can tell you definitively that our “demise” is, in great part, a function of something having turned the corner within our common ranks.
Of course, there has been plenty of commentary to date with regard to apathy, the burden of mundane tasks, concern overload, etc. I could certainly go through the alphabet delineating various categories…which all culminate in citizen impassiveness and non-involvement.
However, my focus here is the malaise, nay…virulent infection which now plagues our activist groups. Which is, arguably, the main reason for our ongoing “downfall” — no end in sight — at this juncture.
Below is a list of 10 “symptoms” which I’ve noted among activists, our supposed mobilizers, as an ongoing problem. Actions and inactions which have been putting the final nails in our collective coffin:
1. As a rule, no one returns calls.
2. Generic emails are employed to respond to specific inquiries, generally.
3. When there are exceptions to the rule above, there is virtually no follow-up.
4. The feeling of too much correspondence is focused on fundraising.
5. There’s almost a total absence of “bonding” in recruiting, numbers sufficing.
6. A deadly combo of lack of communication skills/incivility (in the form of impatience)/lack of knowledge is pervasive.
7. Obliviousness to, or little sense of, the urgency attached to many issues.
8. Busyness predominates, and there is little imagination for or interest in truly new paradigms for protest/change. Redundancy rules.
9. Being out of touch, generally, with the ‘cross the board apathy, etc. among citizens.
10. “Territorial trauma” runs rampant among left-of-center groups, unhealthy worry setting in whenever one segment “threatens” to steal the spotlight, cut into a given financial base, or some such priority takes precedence over solidarity.
In one review of The Road a critic notes the following:
“It seems to me that we are already pushing other people ahead of us down The Road. As the biosphere shrinks, McCarthy describes the collapse of the protagonist’s core beliefs. I sense that this might be happening already: that a hardening of interests, a shutting down of concern, is taking place among the people of the rich world. If this is true, we do not need to wait for the forests to burn or food supplies to shrivel before we decide that civilization is in trouble.”3
For one and all, I recommend a new pair of binoculars.
- For two reasons, I’d like the reader to contact me to get the source of this quotation. I’ll explain upon contact. This approach certainly opens the door for solidarity beyond the written word, yes? [↩]
- At least for forty years, intensely within the last ten years, and 24×8 during the last four. Across the country, worldwide. My focus has always been hands-on action. [↩]
- See footnote #1 above. Forgive the inconvenience, please. [↩]