It hasn’t been this interesting in a long time.
Women on the march — women silenced in the senate — reading letters and legal opinions on Facebook instead of looking at pictures of cats and cute babies — lawyers offering free services at airports. Has there ever been a time since Watergate when people are so interested in the evening news?
Of course, our Canadian Prime Minister got bumped from almost any mention in the New York times on the day of his Washigton visit this week. We Canadians can calm down and see how little we really matter in the scheme of things. Of course our Canadian newspapers and media presented an alternate universe with its front page headlines, commentaries and photos. But switch to the New York Times and PBS and we know more about Nordstrom’s merchandising policy that what will happen to the North American Free Trade Agreement. The Israeli Prime Minister is likely to get the same not-with-it reception from the US Twittterer-in-Chief.
The groups that are totally forgotten these days are all those hurting Americans who saw their way of life disappearing and eroding without knowing what was happening. Disruptive elements in societies used to happen slowly. It took the mediaeval church a while to discover the disruptive power of the printing press that allowed people to form their own opinions when they could start to read things on their own. We have come full circle when anything we read is now segmented in terms of interests, education, geography, politics and culture. I wonder to what extent all of us have been in a trance.
Some of us have felt victimized by disruptive change. When that happens, it is common to look for a savior who will deliver us from all the pain. It’s an even better solution if our world is primarily reality TV — where losers are much more prevalent than winners and seem like our kind of people. We can let somebody else figure it out. But when that doesn’t happen, we become disillusioned but eventually we wake up — it can take a long time though. Often all it brings is more disillusionment and more pain.
Others of us have been totally distracted by our own concerns — maybe the best gym, the best recipe — and suddenly woken up to find ourselves in a different place. What happened? What do we do now? Everyone from the press to ordinary citizens reacts with hysteria. It’s only after a month of what might be now seen as a farce rather than a tragedy that we are starting to respond. We haven’t been victimized. We just haven’t been paying attention to things that matter.
Responding rather than reacting is now on the agenda and it always takes time. Reflection is not something most of us do too often. Usually coming out the other side does mean lowering both the tone of voice and the temperature. But it doesn’t allow us to avoid paying attention. At least we’re doing that now.