Best laid plans…

I saw a term earlier today that i found really interesting – post-truth society I’ve heard that we are post-racial (which is simply untrue) and post-Cold War (which may or may not be true) and post-traumatic (which is most assuredly not true, since trauma is current and ongoing). But I had not heard the term “post-truth”. It’s interesting to consider if, as a society, we are past the truth, if we have simply dispensed with the truth as a condition of our existence. I would imagine it’s more or less a rhetorical idiom, and might opt to consider whether or not we are post-reality. The reality of our lives is just that. Reality. Whether I’m satisfied with it or not, whether I like it or not, whether it meets with my approval or not, it simply IS. I breathe, I woke up this morning, I am conscious (well, mostly). My eyes blink involuntarily, my eyes are brown, I get hungry. That is reality. I did not ask for any of that, but still it is my experience. So, it is reality. I cannot go past that, or deny that, or change that. As such, that reality is the truth. Thinking of, wishing for, imagining that my eyes were blue does not make it so. My eyes are brown – always have been, always will be.

So, if truth and reality are inseparable, then no amount of repeating or denying reality makes it non-reality. I understand the therapeutic concept of “reframing” certain realities, but there are limits to that. “Reframing” how I interpret or live into certain aspects of reality does not change the immutable attributes of any part of it, only colors my orientation or acceptance of it. For instance, if I feel inconsolably alone because I have no siblings and both my parents have died, being reminded of how many friends I have and how much support I have from other people does not change the fact that I have no siblings and my parents are dead. Instead, reframing my definition of “alone” simply points me to other aspects of the same mosaic, facets of the picture that will allow e to see warmer facets of the picture. There is, however, no denial of reality. Changing perspective in such things often does not seem to be terribly comforting, but can sometimes mute the voice of despair. The discomfort remains, although blunted and sheathed.

We humans do not like discomfort, particularly in the non-physical realm. Our society finds myriad ways to quiet our troubled spirits. We do our best to distract ourselves, anesthetize ourselves, harm ourselves in order to avoid the deafening screams of broken dreams and broken hearts, trampled egos and truths. In some cases, we will do almost anything to stop the emotional torrent, fearing it will submerge us entirely. We fight. However we can, our instinct is to fight. The feeling of drowning threatens to go on forever, and drowning is a horrible way to die. I’m not sure there are any “good” ways to die, but drowning feels particularly helpless, powerless, attempts to breath are entirely futile but…the surroundings are not outwardly horrific. It’s only water, but the context is off. Too much of anything is not a good thing, as they say.

When it feels as though we’re drowning, we try desperately to find solid ground, to elevate ourselves above the depths. It’s ironic that we frequently use drink to accomplish this, at least metaphorically…spirits, booze, liquid courage. It’s a temporary fix, at best, but…desperation is a real thing. You do what you gotta. If it’s not drink it’s pills, or the fruit of the poppy, or blended man-made chemicals with mystical effects. It doesn’t matter, we have to get to the surface, we have to breathe. Unfortunately, in that scenario, the surface is an illusion. We are still drowning, but our minds are powerful, and if illusion is the best we can do, we’ll take it. And we take it, over and over and over again. That is addiction. It’s a disease, a dis-ease – we are not at ease, we are not easy. And we go down again and again and again.

I believe when people are pushed to the limit, when some part of their world dies, some part of their Self dies. Whether that’s physical death, or threat of physical death, or non-physical death, the survival mechanism is activated. People will flail, struggle, convulse both literally and figuratively. When the alt-right marched hundreds of people through Charlottesville VA, carrying tiki torches of all things, their chant was “You will not replace us”, which somehow morphed into “Jews will not replace us”. The operative word, in either case, was “replace”. We are dying, being replaced is dying, and we are trying to survive. You will not replace us. You will not kill us. None of the rest of us could understand that, but it was certainly real for the tiki torchers. Watching that, I could not not get past the obvious nod given to the burning cross, and I am sure that was intentional. They believe they are dying, as a culture, as a collective identity. So, by any means necessary, they are fighting to survive. It would not occur to these folks that change will happen whether they go kicking and screaming into it, or walk in under their own power with grace and dignity. But it’s going to happen regardless, because that’s reality.

Looking back on the insurrection of January 6th, I saw Charlottesville. I saw the KKK marches and cross-burnings of earlier times. I did not see civil rights marchers trying to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Alabama, or the Mississippi River Bridge after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. I did not see the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests after the murder of George Floyd. The difference in what I saw? The difference was the hatred, the willingness to be post-truth, to deny reality. The difference was in Charlottesville, in the KKK marches, in the insurrection of January 6th, there was a hysteria and desperation to alter past events. That’s not possible. Those folks are not willing to live in the present, on this plane of reality. The civil rights marchers, the Hurricane Katrina survivors were very much rooted in reality, not in the agreement with the reality, but definitely the acceptance of it. Behavior exhibited by the literal death throes would seem to be the ultimate non-acceptance of reality, and it is ultimately futile effort. Rioting, as opposed to protest or demonstration, seems to be akin to death throes. Perhaps it is the reality of dying ideals and dreams, of crumbling foundations of life as we know it. Whatever it is, vainglorious public displays such as the attempted coup on January 6th are ultimately futile efforts as well. The premise of that insurrection was flawed. There was no fundamental injustice perpetrated against the citizenry by the state, no violation of constitutional decree. The only injustice was the false creed of racist nationalism binding the insurgents to one another. They were not post-truth, truth was never present to begin with. Their rage was activated by the disconnect experienced when delusion and lies came face to face with…reality. Death be not proud, but rage, rage against the dying of the light. Do not go gentle into that good night. Goodnight, my little Roseanne Roseannadanna.

Published by annzimmerman

I am Louisiana born and bred, now living in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Fortunately for me, I was already living in NC before Hurricane Katrina decimated my beloved New Orleans. An only child, I now feel that I have no personal history since the hurricane destroyed the relics and artifacts of my childhood. As I have always heard, c'est la vie. My Louisiana roots show in my love of good coffee, good food, and good music. My soggy native soil has also shown me that resilience is hard-wired in my consciousness; when the chips are down (or drowned)...bring it on.

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