This is the second half of a two panel strip published on Earth Day, 1971. Clearly, Walt Kelly was making a pointed statement about the rapidly deteriorating condition of our planet (yep, pretty damn bad forty-six years ago). The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency for anyone who was born too late or may have forgotten what that acronym actually stands for - hey, it happens, it's an acronym) had only just been formed on December 2, 1970 and while it probably hadn't become an entire nuisance yet it was about to turn us upside down collectively, from factory waste, emission tests, light bulb disposal, and shit we should NOT be putting into our ground water from our lawn fertilizer. Just imagine the sacred cows the EPA hasn't been able to get near much less whisper their names.
At some point this very famous statement, "...we have met the enemy, and he is us." took on broader significance. It stopped being just about the environment and became a blanket statement about anything that was essentially wrong or even off base. In many circles it became about politics although no one wants to admit that their own party might be part of the problem. Spread that evenly over belief systems, actions, and words, and it gets really dicey and hard to look at because the minute we're that sort of vulnerable we expose our metaphorical jugulars and risk certain death. Right? Maybe so, maybe not so much.
I unfollowed a lot of people on Facebook in the last few months for a couple of reasons. I didn't want to unfriend them because, well, they're my friends. I just didn't want to see the sheer quantity of vitriolic rage scrolling down my page generally aimed at my candidate and eventually my party and finally specifically individual voters not so much by name but by classification. Hey, listen, don't call me snowflake, asshole because I think you're a neanderthal, racist, misogynist jerk.
Do you see the problem there?
Regardless of whether I said it, I was thinking, feeling, reacting and my underlying conversation drove a good amount of my transactions regardless of what actually came out of my mouth. So, you know, I whittled down my feed.
It was better for a while and then the election happened and we all went to pieces and that was understandable. It wasn't that we couldn't get over the loss, it was that we couldn't get past the fear of what might and then what was was happening to our country. It was no longer about who won the election; it was about human rights, women's rights, education, and instead of the draining of a swamp what looks, smells, and tastes like a flood of fascism into the Whitehouse with alternative facts and finally doors slammed shut in the faces of any sort of media which might choose to print something #45 or his staff didn't particularly care for.
The left was and is not necessarily protesting an election (there is that faction), the left is standing up and collectively involving itself in government in a way it has not in my lifetime (I can't count the sixties because I wasn't paying attention). This is a good thing. You want a democracy? Pay attention. Get involved. Speak up and be counted at a grass roots level and when that doesn't work, grab your representatives by the throat and let them know with great certainty just exactly how you feel. In other words, constituents, speak the hell up. We haven't been doing that. We've been blindly, for the most part, sitting back and bitching about the results, most of us with no real idea of what's occurring in Washington, what our Foreign Policy looks like and why, and/or how this affects any of us short and long term. We just know we're pissed. About something. And when we're told what and who to be pissed about it seems like we pretty much say, OK, that works without any real understanding why we might choose to channel hate, fear, suspicion, anger, and all those other lovely things in those directions. We just do it.
Read that paragraph again. Doesn't it sound like I segued from a conversation about the left to the right?
I did not. I was writing about my own party the whole time. Hey, the right's just as guilty but I'm writing about the left, where I come from because I'm about to get to the other side of my Facebook feed.
One of the things which bothered me most about #45 was what I perceive as this unbelievable meanness. It's an underlying thing and I don't know that other presidents weren't mean. Shit, Obama could very well have been a closet sociopath who menaced his staff and family quietly but I kind of doubt that. They held up way too well. Dubya (I write that fondly suddenly) didn't appear to be particularly mean either although I experienced him as spoiled and out of touch sometimes and if he was mean I don't think it was at a spiritual and moral level. His dad? I never experienced anything other than dignity and I did not appreciate his politics. Clinton (I know I'm out of order) was surely not the only president incapable of keeping it in his pants (oh, please) but he was arrogant enough to get caught which labeled him immoral if not amoral. Not mean. Regan, not mean, confused (please keep in mind, these are my experiences of presidents and as we move back in time I am getting younger) and not necessarily inclined to follow rules. Gets caught. Ford. Plain vanilla. Carter. Genuinely good man. Maybe I missed something. So he sinned in his heart, who doesn't. Possibly I interpreted that inaccurately. I was thirteen when he took office.
Ford, Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy. 1. Vanilla: 2. Dumb as hell in the long run, 3. I've heard some pretty damn awful things about him, and 4. Walked on Water (but you get that when you put somebody on the moon, beat the crap out of Jim Crow, and get yourself assassinated). OK, Kennedy was assassinated five months before I was born but the ripple effect puts him on my list. I am aware of Johnson on the periphery because I read, I watched the Nixon impeachment trials (that in itself was enough), and was old enough to draw my own conclusions no matter how naive about Ford.
That's my entire list and #45 put on space boots and went to Jupiter. The other ten are still standing on the moon where Kennedy took them. You see my point?
OK, back to the meanness. My Facebook filter is ON. I have filtered out nearly every friend I have on the right who's been spouting not so much their beliefs (I'm cool with that) but taking direct shots at Hillary supporters and Snowflakes (fuck you too...carrreful). Lately I've been feeling bad, just bad. I still have some friends I can't bring myself to filter because I either love, respect, or admire them too much to take them out of my feed and I recognize what I'm hearing is just noise so I take a couple of deep breaths, remind myself not to engage, and move on (nothing to see here, folks). But lately I've been feeling bad, just bad. Last night I figured out why. A man who posts frequently and thoughtfully finally did something I would have sworn he'd never do. In fact I think he did it twice in one day but it's the second posting that got my attention.
I have met the enemy. Please refer to the all that garbage in the swamp up in exhibit 1 which we have been dumping for quite some time. The EPA hasn't come along to force us to clean it up yet and #45 is making noises about shutting down the EPA (or are those just nasty rumors?).
I have a question though. For what reason do we require the EPA to clean up our own shit? Right. Naive and all that.
A little bit softer now... because that's just not true. It's unkind, it's unnecessary, it's not useful, and finally, it's flat out mean all the way to Jupiter.
Also. It SCREAMS snowflake. Just sayin'.
When I still worked at The Castle, at the very end when our VP was on the way out the door, she told us, her six directors, that we needed to learn to get along because we did not, not even slightly. Granted, it was easy enough to point the finger at our VP and say, hey, you created this mess between us, it's your fault but in the end we were still responsible for our actions as well as what we did with our feelings. Ultimately we were left alone as a team to stand together or go to pieces one by one. Let me tell you, we hated each other. There was absolutely no trust. We were split into three pairs with two primary sets and a third which could be manipulated in either direction. The battle was bloody and in the end David and I were left standing but ultimately mortally wounded. I made it through the summer and left with a six month package. David was invited to sit in a corner for six weeks or walk out the door a free man. In the end we were all damaged goods. I don't know that we could have stayed together as a cohesive team if we'd found a way to work together, to cover each other's backs, but I do know we would have come away clean. We were missing two things; trust and respect.