Sunday, January 5, 2020

Lunch Money and Asteroids

The following is a bonus third follow-up (here's the first and here's the second) to my posting "Happy New Year in Paradise".

In "Happy New Year in Paradise", I wrote:
Your life is so good that having a president who's a corrupt racist buffoon (corrupt racist buffoons ran everything for millennia, and, in fact, delivered us to this Utopia) curdles your pampered life experience. We can't bear a president who's less than a wise, honorable statesman (this one’s a "5", but comes after we've been spoiled by a long run of "7"s and "8"s, and I almost perversely hope we get a truly bad one just for the glee of watching everyone reframe to concede that Trump was comparatively which point George W Bush will have been retconned into Abraham freaking Lincoln).
You might have replied:
Donald Trump is definitely NOT a "5". He has done irreparable damage to our institutions and to our global standing. He has, time and again, acted in his self-interest rather than the nation's interest, and his self-interest is consistently tied to that of Russia, making him a de facto - if not actual - agent of Putin's regime. From kids-in-cages to the rising tide of brazen violence, hatred, and racism, he's been a curse on the presidency, the nation, and the world. I truly can't imagine worse.
Agreed on all points except the first and last sentences.

Let's take a trip in the wayback machine to the mid-2000s. How would your younger self of that era have felt about your current assessment of George W. Bush? That maybe he wasn't the worst thing imaginable (despite some horrendous decisions), that he operated from an earnest sense of honor and principle and was indisputably a patriot who cared about the country, its institutions, and its people? How would your 2009 self react to the swelling admiration you may now feel watching the video of Bush going to a mosque immediately after the 9/11 attacks and giving a beautiful speech urging love and kinship for our Moslem-American neighbors?

I'd suspect that your then-self would scorn you, insisting that, no, you greying idiot, Bush is The Absolute Worst (fwiw, my own then-self would have forcefully agreed). He’s the devil incarnate. A blight and a scourge and a shame and an ignorant dick. One truly couldn't imagine worse.

This is how reframing works. We latch onto a framing until it's forcibly ripped from us. Getting your lunch money stolen by the school bully will no longer seem like the most traumatic possible thing once you've broken your leg playing softball, and that's instantly nothing if someone starts firing a gun, and even that becomes a mere blip when you've spotted the huge asteroid in the sky hurtling toward Earth.

Trump has broken your leg, leaving your lunch money indignation largely forgotten. So don't be a shmuck. Don't tempt the fates to send you gunfire, much less the asteroid.

In the Dungeons & Dragons of religion, I'm not even a level 2 Jew (though I've gone reasonably far in the Zen/Yogi character class). But that last part somehow wafted out of me like a plume of undiluted super-Jewishness. I'm not even Jew enough to explain this recognition (I've never cracked open those books nor remained awake through a service). But via DNA alone (I'm oddly descended from a revered 18th century scholar), I recognize that that's pretty much it, right there. Curl my sideburns and blacken my hat.

1 comment:

Display Name said...

Well buttah mah biscuits Jim! My ancestors are mostly Welsh and Irish and we must have some of the same aspects of our cultures. My beloved Irish grandmother was dying of cancer at home in a special hospital bed with her family around her. I was young and clueless. Now I am old and clueless but she mentioned how much weight she had lost and I blurted out that I wish I could lose some weight. She gasped and admonished me "don't say that!!!" I don't know the origin of the original word Fey but it might be English.I understood it to mean basically being blissed out directly before a calamity. Like he was in a rare fey mood right before he went riding on the moors and he and his horse were swallowed up, never to be seen again. I looked it up recently and the modern meaning is different apparently. I have a strong belief not to push my luck that has served me well so far. Might even get a cell phone soon rather than trusting to luck. Thought you might like this: they can be staticy and they talk a lot but there is nothing like driving in the rain for chinese take out listening to the opening blast of boogey woogey bugle boy.

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