My major in college was Political Science. One of my professors introduced us to the concept of efficacy. A politically efficacious person is one who believes they can make a difference–that their involvement matters. My professor stated that we students, as poli-sci majors, obviously have a highly developed belief in our efficacy–we believed we could be involved in the system of governance in our country, and that our involvement could have an effect.
I know that this was certainly true of myself. I believed in the American system, and in my ability to play a role. I wanted to do my part, somehow, to make America a better place.
As I’ve gotten older and realized my limitations, and the realities of life, some of that idealism has worn off, and I have had to accept that there is only so much one person can do, especially when that one person has to provide for a family. I’m fairly content to do what I can now–to vote, to email my congressman or Senator when a vote is upcoming that matters to me, and to try to influence or educate people I interact with online or IRL.
What frustrates and angers me today, is that I see the country on such a terrible course, and I feel powerless to do anything about it. I see a novice as President, our affirmative-action President, and I feel like saying, “okay, we’ve had our black president. Can we get a real one now?” The man is not up to the job.
Our congress is going to spend money like mad–at the very time when the baby boomers are starting to retire!! Are these people insane? The country is already in massive debt, and they want more of it? I get the sense that they do not expect the bill to come due on their watch, and so they are kicking it down the pike–and guess what! My generation is the one that will be either taxed into penury or have hyperinflation like a banana republic.
I see liberty eroding–and I feel like there is nothing I can do. I feel like our political class has broken the social compact, and I don’t feel there is anything to be done about it. I’m angry. All I really want is to live in a free country, where I can raise my family and live my life, and where that little bit of political involvement is all that is needed, but in this new America, it feels like that is not going to be possible. Being an interested citizen and voter is enough when the government is property limited as the Constitution dictates. But when the power of the political class extends into every damn facet of our lives, then one has to stand up and try to resist and protect one’s rights. And yet one faces the bureaucracy, the entrenched incumbents, the fawning and lick-spittle media, and the fact that everyone from the social security recipient to the farmer to the government employee to the veteran to the Auto company CEO now have a stake in the status quo.
I’ve learned in the last few years that for my own serenity I have to accept my limitations and only take responsibility for those things that are mine, and to let go of the rest. But at the same time, I grieve and I fear for my country, the land that I love, and I want to do something. How can I stand by, when I fear that my life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, and that of my children, is endangered?
Yes, this is actually Frank blogging, for once.
So the new Congress and new President’s solution to America’s economic problems is to borrow and spend more money. Because that isn’t why we are in this situation to begin with. America has been living beyond it’s means for decades now, both as a government and as a people. The Democrats intend to double or even triple the Federal budget, send the deficit skyrocketing, and simply keep borrowing money from abroad. Because we are in some kind of “crisis”, with a recession looming (oh, the horror!), the size and expense of government has to bloat to unprecedented size.
Needless to say this is only going to make matters worse when the laws of economics do re-assert themselves, and our creditors decide it’s time to cash in. Then we face serious inflation, with all the lovely consequences that brings, or we face severe government austerity–which would have critical repercussions both domestically and abroad. My bet is that our spineless politicians would let the printing presses roll, and greenback would be the new style of toilet paper.
But these consequences don’t seem to matter to our ruling class, and the citizenry at large is uninformed, misled, or simply unwilling to face the facts. So the money will be spent–the favored constituencies will get their goodies, the connected donors will get their tax credits and their subsidies, and the average Joe voter will happily spend his “stimulus check.”
Sanity seems to have completely left our polity. The hint of smoke is drifting in from the outskirts of the city, and our elites are rosining up their fiddles. What is the only rational course of action?
To cash in, of course. How do I get mine, while the getting is good? Where’s my teat on the government hog? She’s gonna be slaughtered any day now–better get fat and happy while there’s time.
Olivia to me this morning: “Mommy thinks you are handsome, Daddy. When she looks at you she gets hearts in her eyes.”
This is a new ad for the National Guard, and it is an awesome video
So I go into the laundry room and finish loading the washer. It had been started yesterday, but we never put a full load in or started it up. The lid had been left up. I throw in some towels and stuff, add the detergent, close the lid and start the machine.
Then I walk away through the kitchen when, all of a sudden, I hear, “Mraaaooowww!!” Then the lid of the washer goes, “BANG!”
Yes, Snickers, our kitten, had climbed into the open washer and was in there when I started it. She managed to open the lid of the washer–hence the bang, and she came streaking past me soaking wet.
I gave her a bath in case she got any detergent on her, and we all had a good laugh at the kitty. That’ll teach her to hang out in the washing machine….
I don’t know the individual motivations of my ancestors who came to the United States, though those motivations are easy to infer. Among my forebears are Irish and Germans who were part of the great migrations from those countries in the mid -and late-19th centuries. I suspect that they came to America in search of a better life for themselves and their children. They felt compelled to leave the lands of their birth and strike out into a new country, whether out of necessity or ambition. I don’t imagine it was easy to leave behind family, familiar places, friends, and the customs and language of their birth.
(And did those they left behind understand? Did the mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters who chose to remain comprehend the reasons for leaving? Did they feel abandoned? Did they feel anger?)
I also imagine that in some ways they always held on to the old country. They never forgot the language, and I imagine their hearts still thrilled a little to hear a song or story in their native tongue, or that they still felt some tug of the heart when they saw the flag of the motherland. I know that many of them settled among others who came from Ireland, or Germany, as the case may be, and I suppose that is because they were with others who had set out on the same adventure–the adventure to start anew in America, but who still shared the same memories and feelings of home.
I also imagine that it would have been a mixed feeling to encounter a traveler from the old country–on the one hand, the shared heritage would provide an instant affinity, and they might enjoy sharing recollections or inquiring after common relations or friends. But, on the other hand, that traveler would be different from them–for that traveler would not have revoked their bond with the motherland, and so I suspect there would be some gulf of understanding between the two.
And their children and grandchildren would have less and less of this element in their lives, as it became diluted with other heritages, and as the memories and ties grew more distant.
For me, leaving the LDS Church has been like emigrating to a new country. I still speak the language of a Mormon, and my heart still thrills a little to hear “The Spirit of God Like a Fire is Burning.” I still know all that I knew before, and I still have memories and attitudes that are defined by my Mormon upbringing. Mormonism still has many ties to my heart–it is still “my old home.”
But I felt compelled to leave that home behind and to seek out a new spiritual frontier. I could no longer stay in my “old country.“ A large part of this is for the same reason I imagine that Germany and Ireland were left behind: I want something better for my children. The memory of Mormonism in our family will gradually fade, just as the memory of Germany has.
And so I find myself seeking out others who have made that same journey–other immigrants to this strange and exciting new world of Post-Mormonism. On FLAK and NOM we share our common language and experiences, and also give each other guidance and support as we try to adapt.
And when I meet a Mormon now, as I did at my Twelve Step meeting this week, there will be that feeling of instant affinity, and shared backgrounds. We may know the same people and be able to talk the same talk. But there will be a gulf between us, as I have severed the bonds and emigrated to a brave new world.