There are no secrets any more – as the Speaker of the US Senate found when he allowed a senator to be silenced.
It’s quite a story. As an article in Wired magazine notes this morning that the likelihood of many of us paying attention to a late night session on CSPAN is minimal. The incident could have been a minor one when someone invoked a seldom-used procedural rule.
Instead – by silencing a participant in a debate, now the whole world knows – and what is more amazing, invoking a rule has let loose a torrent of reaction accusing the Speaker and his fellow senators of racism and shutting up an “uppity” woman. Ever since “nasty woman” was uttered last year, and the T-Shirts sold out, ya just can’t do that any more. Censorship travels fast through Tweets and emotional hyperlinks kick in immediately – connecting to others racially abused, other women silenced – complete with composite images. The full text of the letter is everywhere. The Tweeter-in-Chief doesn’t have the only franchise on the Internet.
Except perhaps among the consciousness of the administration’s faithful adherents. We do have to remember that “viral” is bigger but not universal.
No man or woman is an island and we all carry the associations of every unique experience we have. We mirror those viral networks within ourselves. Since we often ignore associations until something like this rekindles them, do we really know ourselves either? There is always a larger context for anything that’s hidden under our emotional surface. In riding the Titanic of our lives, we meet our own hidden icebergs.
When we are dealing with a bully or a tyrant, what’s hidden beneath our own personal surface? Who are the ghosts in our own emotional stories? What tone of voice or gesture echoes from the past?
I observe a particular hand gesture that reinforces nearly everything a certain president says. It looks authoritative but also menacing. Some years ago, a good friend always pointed a finger at me when he disagreed with me. It really bothered me until I dredged up a teacher who did it too and terrified me. I told him I didn’t like it and it stopped. Perhaps he dredged up a ghost of his own.
The language around terrorism seems to run deep in the current administration and if it resonates so well, what kind of scary experiences have so many Americans had to awaken and energize it? Who are their ghosts?
When 911 occurred, I remember my own family getting together for dinner in Toronto – in another country and far from the horrific events of the day. I was struck how the younger generation was experiencing the events more directly than I was – till I realized that as a child I was exposed to nightly radio reports of the second world war. My 911 context was survival, theirs was the shock of victimization.
I notice the degree of fear and victimization right now in so many of my neighbors to the south. I notice how it is being played too – with the message – “I will take care of you”. Many of the current conversation of the Divided States of America are not dealing with the fears under the icebergs that have suddenly loomed above the surface. How do we make people feel more hopeful and less victimized? And to start with, how do we learn to become more compassionate toward others ourselves? Most of us know how to hug a hurt child? How do we learn to say less, judge less, and explain less – and hug fellow members in a hurt nation?