Thursday, November 04, 2004

Let the healing begin

This whole election is really over. Finished. It is now time to heal and rebuild. The media tends to tell us that we are a divided nation. If that is true (and I am skeptical) then we must start to rebuild, with the Republicans toning down on their retrogressive religious agenda, and the Democrats getting rid of some of their rabid hate of anyone different then them.

But that is not the real healing I am talking about. The real healing we need in this country is not on a political party scale, but rather on a personal and individual one.

You may recall a scene toward the end of Orwell's 1984, after he was tortured and he finally loved big brother. There was a point when he could hold out no longer and he just gave in, despite what he really believed, and what he really felt.

I too remember that I was on the verge of caving, and I had many sane friends who actually did. In New York there was tremendous pressure to hate Big Brother. People expressing support for Bush were socially ostracized, talked about, vilified, isolated, condemned, shamed, and otherwise invited to feel like they were mediaeval simpletons. I personally experienced all of this. I was censured, insulted, yelled at, and made fun of.

In response I had to stop communicating with some of my more rabid friends. I spoke with exactly zero of my academic colleagues, as they were all flaming Nader-is-a-bit-too-far-to-the-Right types. I took to lashing out on my students for their poor and sloppy thinking about this, even though they were all just repeating what they had heard in their sociology classes. I had no meaningful discussions about this election, because those who stayed my friends tended to agree with me, and those who did not agree were impossible to talk to.

I became very close with those who agreed with me. We hunkered down and came to feel like it was us against the world - and that really built up a sense of camaraderie.

But it is over. Perhaps in a few days when the flow of Bush-really-stole-the-elections-again-.-.-.-I-saw-them-burning-Kerry-ballots!!!!!! emails dies down, we can start to rebuild our friendships.

I know it is easy to say this when you are the " winner". I like to think that I would have said this regardless of who won the election. But I really do want my New York back. I really want us to go back to the way things were. Bush got the votes of 40% of the state, and 25% of my county. That makes 1 in every 4 Brooklynites who probably feel like they won the election but lost their friends.

I am grateful to have had many friends who place friendship before politics, though few of them could stand to mix friendship with politics. I thank them.

I would like to make a public appeal to the good citizens (and visitors) of my beloved city: Can't we all just get along?

The time has come to make these next four years one of progress and coexistence. We can be bitter and hate each other and sit in wait for the next election so we can get another chance, we can continue to feel resentment, OR, we can work toward making New York a better place now. I think that it is time New York had a Take Your Formal Political Rival To Lunch week. Become friends again. Hook up. Forget politics for a bit. Talk about the future. We have three and a half years before we have to see another political campaign add that we care about. Relish it. Because, come 2008, you will not be on speaking terms.

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