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...