Divided We Fall

I read the other day of Joan Didion’s passing from our literary world and today caught a descriptive piece about her writing by New York Times former book critic, Machiko Kakutani. Didion died Thursday, December 23, 2021 at the age of 87, but may well live into history as one of the greatest American essayists, playwrights and novelists. By Kakutani’s description, she was a person who could look at a situation and easily separate fact from fiction, both in the sense of understanding the liar and looking at the situation and the times.

She had a lot to teach us if we read her works and others like her as we move into a new year. The woman was tuned into the social psyche of this country, having lived as many of us did through monumental happenings in our lives and she wove the public episodes into her works. She correctly saw the fracturing of our society and giving us the words that “disorder is its’ own point”. I agree, chaos breeds chaos.

What was abhorrent to some ten days ago is now simply fine. Utterances today are taken back tomorrow or reworded all together. The deck is reshuffled continually to keep the ace on top. Didion did not miss the new pay to play and the selfishness it breeds. Me, me, me and it has transcended common sense.

Didion noticed the trends online and in politics where seeds are planted by a few in the hinterland of microchips, everything that we believe is rewarded with more of it until it grows into an unrecognizable “truth”. It takes nothing for some to believe we are all going to be traced with microchips planted in our flesh while packing around a huge personal data sucking machine in our hip pockets. The fear Ms. Didion recognized, is the lousy product coming from the lack of consensus and that, in my view is the direct result of a gerrymandered electorate where just like the mule I used to have, any banana will do.

We must first understand we have been lied to then do something about the intentional division. Imagine that instead of throwing your lot with pundits or social media you talk to your neighbors; you know the same ones who were your friends before nothing changed.

A Republic functions from a learned society. Read, pay attention and think for yourselves. Our knowledge is a combination of what WE hear, what WE see and dead reckoning in our own minds. Make decisions based on many sources not some video clip doctored to fool us.

Democracy requires involvement. Sit in on board a meeting or read the minutes. Decide to BE the change. Take a role in positive changes. It takes steady decision making that comes with input from all of you. They are your representative’s locally and nationally, and democracy is only as good as what we put into it.

My time spent volunteering on local boards is far more rewarding than nearly anything I have done in life. If a board room doesn’t turn your crank, there are roadways to clean, food delivery for the infirm, volunteering to the Forest Service, BLM or local festivals. Work with the local trail maintenance folks, get out there. You will quickly find that no one asks how you voted, they don’t care.

There are two truths about democracy; it dies in darkness, and it is not a spectator sport. In the history of this country voting has historically not been a priority. Even in 2020 only 66.8% of Americans voted. There have been a few times, particularly in the 1800’s that there was 80% turnout. They had to ride a horse and we can’t get off our couch to participate?

As Didion wove in her works, we are in disarray, but every single one of us has the power to bring things back in line. We can redouble that power by exerting it together. Letting elected folks know that it is not okay to run their investment portfolio with knowledge they have gained from closed door sessions. It is not okay to take anyone’s right to vote away. It is in the interest of America financially that everyone has a fair shake. All of us can benefit from writing these guys spelling out our grievances; they do listen if enough folks get on them.

The words “We the people” can be mouthed continuously, but that will not affect real change without the “We”. Democracy is work, but unless we are willing to clean up the institutions that we were given by the framers we have done nothing. Continuing down the path of self-righteousness will accomplish even less.

This New Year can be the best we have had or the worst, it is truly up to you, you and you. We cannot settle anything without doing it together or we will remain disordered, and we will all lose. Please make a resolution to reach out, understand and work together to a common goal. Lastly, be a leader. Stand up for the country. Invest your time in America. Stand for truth and justice. Love your neighbor. Divided we fall.

“If you want something you have never had,
you must be willing to do something you have never done.”

-Thomas Jefferson-

Leave a Reply