Meaningful Distinction:

Patrick S. Lasswell Look outward for something to accomplish, not inward for something to despise.
pslblog at gmail dot com
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
The Sweet Sting of Significance!

I was on the rooftop looking down at the protesters in 2001 with Michael as his friends pointed out idiots they personally knew in the crowd of May Day wanna-be's. Growing up in the anti-war movement, I had the chance to learn what kind of protest accomplished change and what accomplished noise. It seems like all the effective, ethical protest organizers have gone away.

My dad burned out from fighting all the good fights, and somewhere along the way lost his faith not just in the movement, but in God Himself. This was not a healthy development for the Reverend Tom Lasswell, and it took him a long time to come to grips with that failure. On the plus side, I was raised with a much healthier theological basis and understood the alchemy of addiction on an instinctive level. Watching dad wean himself from cigarettes, alcohol, and the siren call of protest was an education. The character it took for him to shelter his kids from the ravages of his addictions was a blessing.

My brother and sister are older and had a more sophisticated view of the handful of years between dad quitting smoking, quitting drinking, and his quitting protest. To me it was much simpler; you quit smoking, drinking, and protest when you realize it is destroying you. Quitting an unhealthy addiction is hard, recognizing the addiction as unhealthy is harder. Kate and Michael still cherish their addiction to leftist causes, because they don't see them as addictive derangements.

Two days ago I had an argument with my brother about the failures of the deregulation of the power industry. My brother blamed it on Ronald Reagan in a manner reminiscent of chasing someone through streets of Paris over the theft of a loaf of bread. For reference, the significant legislation on power deregulation occurred in 1978 (PURPA) and 1992 (EPACT). Can you attach a Reagan presidency to either of those dates? My brother surely can, and insists that he can find proof. For my brother, the failure to fully fund AIDS research is the most catastrophic failure of policy of any president in the twentieth century. Don't even get me started on my sister's political reasoning.

I have talked to people who attend these protests, and I am sure that they love the smell of pepper spray exactly the same way I loved the smell of the smoke from my father's Salem's. It comforts them and makes the feel included. I remember asking my father to smoke just so I could smell the scent of him relaxing. I am sure that there are protesters who violently confront the police just so they can feel the sweet sting of significance and bask in the glow of remembered accomplishment. I am sure that they are confident in the justification of their actions because sensory input tells them it is right. They substitute endorphins for accomplishment and go seeking their next hit.

Thanks to Michael and Final Historian for their links. As usual, Michael wants me to get traffic analysis tool, and as usual I dismiss the notion as insufficiently zen. On the other hand, Michael gets to have drinks with Christopher Hitchens...
Protesting as an addiction? I have never looked at it that way before...

Thanks for the thought-provoking post.
Activistas are addicted to "trying" to make a difference. Prolly a good number of bloggers are like that, too.
Me too.
I was too young to remember much. What I read and have seen in historical documents seems like you nailed it. The protests start out for a good reason, have good liberal meaning and depth. then it became the "in" thing to do.

It is how I see our current day protesters. certainly, they believe they have a cause, but generally, it has become a social club for people who feel otherwise disenfranchised from main stream America. What they want is not necessarily "ethical" change. what they want is to be "seen" and say they did it.

As for associates, I come from a long line of democrats and voted democrat for my entire life, right up to 2004. In which case, I did not feel I could support the party anymore. I was, frankly, turned off. It actually started sometime in 2001, right as we entered Afghanistan. Here, I had supported the party that went to Somolia, Bosnia, etc and, when it came crunch time, this same party was denigrating Afghanistan? I was very confused.

I was more confused when, the party I had supported who claimed saddam had WMD, who bombed him once in awhile because he targeted our planes or refused UNMOVIC entry, suddenly decided that saddam was not a threat?

It confused me, sincerely. I finally had to vote the party of my conscience even if I don't buy the whole "we need a law about gay marriage" or abortion issues, etc. I had to put my faith in the fact that giving them power didn't necessarly mean they would be able to change everything they wanted without alienating some of their changling associates just so the war that I thought should have happened in 1991 or the entire decade of the 90's would actually be carried out to the end.

What was more interesting was that my liberal (self proclaimed) friends actually told me I was a "traiter" and refused to talk to me for the better part of a year. My female liberal friends insisted that I was giving "them" power to turn back the clock on women's and minority rights. Honestly, they couldn't really see the more hyper and outrageous their comments, the more it made me think that the party was sick and I should abandon it. I can say that Michael Moore and the protesters were not the last straw, but certainly added a very heavy weight to the scales.

Finally, right before telling me that they did not want to talk to me about politics anymore and we should stick to other "personal" things, one of my friends said to me that I was never a democrat anyway and I should just go hang out with my "new" friends.

We're talking 30 something year old people here, acting like we were in grade school. Obviously, there is something to be said about "friends" like these and I wouldn't let it color my opinion on the party so much if these people had not equaled in the number of 5 and were much less likely to go protest directly, though they did sport some interesting bumper stickers.

I guess, what I'm saying is that I was one of the alienated and, based on the on going political commentary, they don't really care.

What do you do when you want your party back and it doesn't exist anymore?
Post a Comment


  This page is powered by Blogger, the easy way to update your web site.  

Home  |  Archives