The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

We are in an interesting time, for sure, and as the old Chinese adage goes “May you not live in interesting times”, or something like that. All our decisions are tougher, many worry about their future, and we feel surrounded by false information.

As always some historical perspective can help. A comment from Ursula LeGuin reminded me that not too many years ago the divine right of Kings seemed our eternal destiny. The Magna Carta was in the late 13th Century — not just yesterday but that was really one of the first steps away from the concept of Divine right, and that only took it as far as the lesser nobility. Democracy didn’t really raise its head until the French revolution, followed by our own.

Within our own brief (historically) period of democracy we can see the good, the bad and the ugly. We have seen our citizens rise up and do great things, and some of our other citizens do the worst of things. We are scarred forever by slavery and the continued actions of racism, and we are refreshed by those who faught and fight still those evils. We have denied too many the opportunity to enjoy something approaching basic health care, and we have invested our national energy into finding cures and providing clean water to our citizens. One could create a polar list for pages of what we have done well, and what we have done terribly.

The somewhat obvious reason for that is that we are not often blessed with perfection, none of us. Even the very best of us. FDR has been getting a lot of shoutouts these past few years, and many are hoping we can retunr to his path, but any tight look would show his cracks and crevices as well. So we need to pull back and squint a little bit. I liked how Pete Buttegieg put it — the FDR era ended with Reagan, and the Reagan era has to end now. FDR doesn’t need to be a saint for that to be true, and Reagan doesn’t need to be Satan for that to be true either, as much as I have blamed him over the decades.

However, we have reached the abyss of the Reagan era, to use that construct. Nothing can get lower than what we have now. No human being could be worse as a President of our United States. Nothing I write here would likely convince his base base to reconsider, but I do hope for and envision a coming together of all people of common sense, good will, rational thought processes and an inherent will to be a good person within our community (whether town, county, state, nation, or planet). That’s what I hope for.

During our Windsor County Dems meetings (2nd Monday of most months at Damon Hall, Windsor VT) we have had the wonderful opportunity to listen to many of our reps discuss the issues they are involved with in Montpelier, and one thing is clear — reaching agreements and establishing a plan for the betterment of our State of Vermont and our counties and our towns is no easy business. It’s hard work, Really hard, and often frustrating.

No Democrats are perfect. No humans are, or very few. None that I’ve met. But people volunteer and show up, and run and get elected, and do the work and make honest effort to move the ball forward. I am so impressed to see those efforts all the way down to our level, incuding our town level as well. People show up to contribute to our collective well-being, and we need to appreciate those people and be patient. Not everyone will agree with you, the reader, or me. That is the machinery of democracy, and polite listening is the oil. Calling someone a perjorative is adding rust to our democracy.