The Future of Us
Mark and I were talking this morning about the future wrangling that we will (as a responsible society) have to do to come to terms with the ugliness of the MAGA era in US history. We discussed the ways that Germany and Spain muddled through the decades following their fascist dictatorships, and how everyday people who sided with fascism managed to disappear as such within the general population without facing repercussions for their affiliation with the Nazis or the Nationalists. We both believe that one day we will face the same issue here in the States, which is optimistic (in the sense that we both believe that this season in hell will end and we will eventually recover).
However, as a nation, I don’t think we’re bright enough to do what the Germans did and coin a word for dealing with our wretched soon-to-be history. “Vergangenheitsbewältigung” (or, battling with/confronting the past) is something that Germany actively sought — *collectively* — as a way of both admitting that their actions were shameful and horrifying, and as a way of processing feelings of guilt and shame. They emerged from this process — which was undoubtedly painful and maybe even humiliating at first — with a much stronger commitment to democracy, justice, and human rights.
And now, in the face of American abdication, Germany has emerged as the leader of the free world. (N.B. Germany has its own problems now, what with the resurgence of far right movements, but that seems to be a global problem, c.f. Brasil and Poland.) Despite the fact that nationalist movements are on the rise, Germany and Canada are still picking up the slack for the US as we experience our own brand of corporate fascism and toxic nationalism. Thank you, Angela and Justin, for your actions to preserve some sense of responsibility to humanity in these conflicted years. We will owe you a big debt of gratitude for that.
I don’t hope that the rest of the world will someday pardon us for what we are doing right now to violate the trust of the global community. I’m sure that with the right leadership and the right actions and atonements, they will… eventually. What I *do* worry about, however, is whether we — as a country chronically divided by racism, classism, and xenophobia, and with a dysfunctional and myopic attitude towards our history of human rights abuses — will ever have the wherewithal to actively perform the excruciating self-examination that we *must* do to make sure a travesty such as the one we are living never happens again, and so that we can renew our commitment to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
We will have a lot of work to do in the coming decades. Let’s start laying the groundwork now. Let it be now that we acknowledge that we have so, so many wrongs to make right. Even if our government would have us think we are blameless, let us accept that this is yet another lie, another myth, another propagandistic, flag-waving, chest-thumping, last-ditch effort to preserve the entrenched culture of patriarchal oppression and white supremacism.
We will recover… but first we will have to face our history… all of it… and say, once and for all, “We were never the good guys.”