Thursday, November 1, 2012

Superstorm

Welcome to November.

No trick or treaters. I suppose it's a result of being in an alley. And it was raining and everything was normal in Seattle. But I heard that the East Coast shut down because of hurricane Sandy.

And it's not proof positive of global warming—no single point of data can represent a trend. It is proof positive that regardless of the existence of global warming, we are ill-prepared for extreme weather events. We have no ability to defend ourselves from that which we cannot control.

And the military is great for saving us from a known and identified enemy, but really the world has been at peace. We live in an unprecedented time where there are no large scale wars, and all of the world powers—despite their tensions—trade openly and speak cordially to each other. This is a time where more than any other we have the potential to create a peaceful future.

Really. Isn't that weird? Argue with me on that one, but the belligerents in the world right now are disorganized, poor, or otherwise lacking in substantive power. World tragedies are generally addressed with concerted actions to help. Look at 9/11. It started the War on Terror, but there was no single government behind it. A diverse international coalition formed to provide aid and address extremism in the world. Of course we did go to war, but the overall thrust is not to fight and defeat in any traditional sense. Our greatest successes have actually been political. Reducing extremism by encouraging political discourse.

And obviously this could all change. But like it or not, we are on the cusp of peace with the right moves in this chess game. And it could all go to hell.

But the point is that disasters now hinge largely on the natural. We provide international aid in events such as the 2005 tsunami or the Japan earthquake. Even in the face of tensions with China, we are able to put aside our differences to help the afflicted.

The whole point of this is that our biggest existential threats to this country are going to be the demons we create or the ones we choose to ignore. They won't be the Hitlers or the Stalins. They will be internal terror, indifference to our fellow man, and poor preparation for the future.

What is the number one thing that everyone seems to remember in a disaster? That we are all Americans and we will prevail. How do we forget that in an election season? How do we forget that when we try to formulate policy? How do we forget that when we launch insulting missiles across the aisle at each other?

We are absurd to make many of the claims we do and to be so unself-conscious when we hurt each other with our hubris.

The problem is that my government adviser was right, “it's all politics.” And the solution is the same, “it's all politics.” Just act like winning in the long-run is more important for a hot second. And the only way you can win in the long-term is to bring your detractors with you.

Or kill them. And that's dumb, because most of the time that's half the country. And half of all Americans can't be hell-bent on the destruction of the country. If you really believe that, then you missed it. You missed the fundamental civics lesson. Dissent is not evil or wrong—it's the core of a functioning government. And you aren't perfect or righteous.

So, I'll try to leave this issue. It's hard not to dive into the fight and defend those I believe to be on the right side. But I can't be a referee when the issues mean so much. How do we all speak to each other in a civil manner and really work together to get things done? I'm not objective, nor can I be the voice of reason more than a miniscule portion of the time. We need each other to weather the storm.