So a few days ago, I talked about that hideous pressure - the pressure that you release a little bit of when you get angry about something you've read online, and then you release a bit of your anger someplace else, and it gets you just a little bit of catharsis. And how that catharsis is ultimately inefficient and leaves a bit of angry residue in your soul that builds and builds and builds. Justifiable anger.
And I find myself battling that a bit tonight. A week in lockdown due to a literal freeze, on top of a year of lockdown due to the pandemic has worn me down to where the nerves are just a bit more raw. Irritation is a bit more piercing. And the people who ultimately pay the price for that are the people who are sort of stuck in here with me.
I talked it over with my wife this evening. The things we used to do for fun and relaxation are unavailable, and have been for some time. We used to go to the movies regularly. Now, the local theaters may be open, but what's playing? The movie studios have pushed everything back. Fewer movies coming out, and what is coming out isn't very compelling. Dining out is something we can do, lucky us, but as we do that more, it's also impacting health. In-person D&D is right out, and has been for a year. Virtual is nice, and gives an opportunity to play, but nothing beats sitting down at a table across from someone and doing this in real time. Church meetings have gone mostly virtual, with the exception of the main service, and my role is to make sure those meetings are broadcast to people who prefer not coming to church in person, which I do from a small room back and away from everyone else.
I find that I am increasingly isolated. Social media is a mine-strewn wasteland that can't satisfy but can certainly get your career killed. And the relationships there are tenuous at best. You can't really hug someone over Facebook. Not really. And I'm sure I'm not alone.
Isolation, in moderation and entered into willingly, can be a valuable thing. It can prompt reflection and insight. It may allow time to engage in creative thinking and problem solving. It can allow you time to pursue an art or a discipline. Isolation in vast quantities and entered into forcibly under threat of at least social ostracization if not maybe actually getting sick and everything that goes with it... can be maddening.
Maybe that's why the culture seems to be insisting on going mad. Maybe that's why the absurdity of the time is cranking itself up to eleven. Maybe that's why it's becoming easier and easier for people to demonize those that they disagree with - because for most of the last year, they haven't really had to deal with them. The ideological bubble - the cell membrane - has thickened to where you can no longer step to the other side. You'd be rejected out of hand by those outside your own bubble. And once you're outside the bubble you currently occupy, those who you used to associate with suddenly regard you with suspicion and doubt.
And isolation increases.
And madness gets just a little firmer foothold.
Today's outrage, of course, is the Coke Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity training where they are encouraging people to be less white.
And I find myself asking a couple of questions. First of all, can you conceive of any universe in which someone would put on a corporate training slideshow a slide that encourages people to be less insert ethnic group HERE? Try it on for a second. Imagine a slide that said "Be less Jewish." or "Be less Black." How long would it take for a mob to show up outside your door with torches and pitchforks? And how long would it take for Coke to (justifiably) throw you out on the street with a boot print in your hindquarters?
But Be Less White is fine?
Okay, that's an easy one. I can already hear people dismissing it. But the other thing I can't help but ask is... if you want people to be less White, what should they be more? Less white, more... something else? What is that something else? Or do they just want white people to be... less?
There's a school of thought that says, and they have a point, that this shouldn't bother me. I'm not an employee of Coca-Cola. (True) And I'll never have to take this stupid training. (Maybe) So what's the problem?
But that ignores a couple of things. It ignores that this kind of thing is permeating the culture. I live in the culture, therefore it does impact me. The more accepted this kind of training becomes, the more it changes social norms and cultural expectations. And that impacts me. The more it influences the culture, the more it will influence laws and regulations, and that will affect me. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But eventually, those seeds will bear fruit. And I don't know what that fruit will look like, but is there any way a fruit grown from roots of bitterness and resentment and hatred for your fellow man... can be good?