The fabled mythicist Joseph Campbell was once asked what was that One Important Thing he learned from a lifetime of studying religions and cultures. Without pause, he answered: “We get into trouble the instant we fail to see the Thou in our brother’s eye.”
Ah, Joe. I’m in trouble on each sixtieth of the hour.
A while back, an acquaintance asked what I perceived as the top problem facing America today.
I think she was waiting for something sexy. Climate change. Terrorism. North Korea. Racism. Pandemics. Asteroids. The NFL turning toward a more benign, “May I Please Take Your Flag?” motif in tackling. I know the woman didn’t like my answer.
I suppose I have my mother to thank for that. Craziness was my first language. To this day, I speak it fluently. My mother was not just haunted by insanity, she was decimated by it. Life, history and literature are rich with crazy people. There’s Dracula’s loyal, fly-eating assistant, Renfield. There’s the electrical genius, Nikola Tesla, who was madly in love with a pigeon. King Charles VI of France howled and wandered the castle halls, believing he was a wolf made of glass. Like my mom, I’m guessing none could cop to a small possibility that they were crazy.
No. Other people were the crazy ones.
I marvel at the tenacity of the insane. There’s an inexhaustible well of wrong assessments. Two plus two equals six. It’s been proven. Coincidentally, two plus two is 19,147 and a million-three. Proof? As my mother used to say: “There was a big write-up in the paper about it.”
Maybe that’s what drove me into journalism. A desire to correct an infinity of incorrect observations.
Gasoline is near $4 a gallon. We haven’t built a refinery in California since the 1970s. Better, 10 have closed, resulting in a 20-percent decrease in production. We have epic traffic congestion. What do we get? Decreased car lanes and increased bicycle lanes. In a state of eternal drought we can’t seem to build a reservoir. We have trouble not just educating our children, but protecting them from a culture violent, vulgar and predatory. With all the things that need fixing, we find the resources to build a multi-billion-dollar train to nowhere.
Solutions abound. Yet, behind nearly every problem you scratch, out will pop a Democrat.
Odd. In several hundred conversations over the years, I can pretty much give a Reader’s Digest version of what conservatism is. I’ve yet to have anyone from the left explain liberalism without their presentation ending in tears, swear words, accusations and/or retinas hurtling toward Mars. I’ve yet to hear something other than poor excuses for one-liners and a litany of clichés and bumper stickers.
Four times in the last year, people from the Left have physically threatened me. Once, it was because I wasn’t in favor of assassinating the president. Not making that up. In those few instances, they’ve backed way off when I invited them to experiment how trying to punch me might work out for them. I’ve been censored by the Left, not for hate speech, but for violating mysterious and unmentionable guidelines. I’ve had three internet businesses collapse because of Liberalism. Thank you, Google, Facebook and Kickstarter.
A dear friend, who is a lifelong San Francisco liberal, once invited me to switch teams, saying that his side could use a mind like mine. Bless him dearly. He was serious. I didn’t offer my true feelings. Liberalism can suck vitality, solution and poetry out of a room. I am weary of summoning patience while the Left’s tantrum runs its course. I’m beyond tired of the braindead accusations. We conservatives. We want to poison everyone. We’re racist. We’re Nazis. We hate children. We hate old people. We hate AIR. We hate everybody. We may smile and say, “Merry Christmas,” but really, it’s a wink-and-a-nod to ethnic cleansing.
Dear mom. She made it to 90-plus years, trapped inside the prison of her own mind. I see those eyes, frightened, filled with an anger thousands of years in the making, darting back and forth, unable to focus. There was the constant blame. It’s always somebody else’s fault. It’s always a conspiracy. It’s always making up the most blatant fibs, then sticking by them. It was always, “You’re the one who is hurting me,” as she flails wildly away.
That wonderful question: “Could I be the one who is wrong?” never visited the poor soul.
I remember a Democratic friend in a meltdown:
“You use WORDS!” she growled. “I don’t care if you have all the facts and you’re right, I’ll NEVER believe you!!”
Liberalism is our No. 1 problem. Why? You can’t fix anything when you can’t admit you might be wrong. Or, insane.
That darn Joe. Mr. Campbell was right. We do get into trouble the instant we fail to see the ‘Thou’ in our brother’s eye.
And it can be so hard to see when there’s 9 inches of white around each retina.
John Boston is a local writer.