Saturday, April 17, 2010

Polarization

“Polarization” is a rising word these days, but only its upswings can be dated. We tend always to be polarized about something. The current convulsion seems to have begun soon after Obama’s election to the presidency—when the Right realized that change might actually be attempted…and the Left to its horror that it might not. The deadlock in the Senate; the hysterical opposition to universal health care; the Tea Party; and the gathering storm over an as yet unnamed Supreme Court nominee are markers. I got to thinking... In the 1950s we had the communist-anticommunist split. That one had its flurries too, peaking in the McCarthy hearings. A century earlier we had Free and Slave, peaking in the Civil War. And fifty years before that time, in England, anyway, people were anxious that the French revolution might succeed more widely across Europe and come to England with the guillotine. Looking back produces disappointment. We don’t live in unusual times. The ultimate battle of Good v. Evil is not about to begin tomorrow; nor will it be followed by the End of History. The patterns repeat. The words of the song might change but not its melody.

3 comments:

  1. "Looking back produces disappointment."
    What? I beg to differ. I find it most reassuring.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree that the ultimate battle is far from being joined.

    But the very specific battles for each and every one of us have magnified until they can be seen by the naked eye, and already have raised alarums - like the meteor of John Brown that burst forth at Harper's Ferry.
    If allowed to ferment uncontrolled, the new brew will burst the old wineskins.

    ReplyDelete