Friday, November 07, 2008

Even Better from Today's NYTimes

This sums it up:

I'd post it on Shocklines to start a flame war with everyone who was shouting before the election that Obama would be the end of American democracy and our way of life, as I'd love to see them react to an eloquent statement that his election is, in fact, the fulfillment of the ideals of the American Founding. But then, I remembered something about pearls before swine and decided why bother?


Blogger Matthew Baugh said...

That is a wonderful and very insightful article. I'm very proud of American democracy at the moment.

I'm proud of the President elect too. I read this morning that he is paying his staffers through the end of the month and continuing their benefits through the end of the year. He's apparantly the first to do this, staffers have been dropped in early November by past presidents.

It's a little thing but says something about the integrity, the maturity and the compassion of the man.

12:22 PM  
Blogger ScottColbert said...

Probably just as well Kim. They'll take one look at the link and see NY Times, and dismiss it out of hand.

2:56 PM  
Blogger Michael Bridgman said...

Hello again Kim, and excellent article! It's probably for the best that you didn't try to frustrate the naysayers, as I think the true root of these concerns and complains are the existential anxieties that come in periods of great social change. Just a few weeks ago, I read a passage in Paul Tillich's The Courage To Be in the chapter "Periods of Anxiety", and I thought 'That's exactly what's happening right now!' Take a look, and see if this isn't eerily familiar to the present:

It is significant that the three main periods of anxiety appear at the end of an era. The anxiety which, in its different forms, is potentially present in every individual becomes general if the accustomed structures of meaning, power, belief, and order disintegrate. These structures, as long as they are in force, keep anxiety bound within a protective system of courage by participation. The individual who participates in the institutions and ways of life of such a system is not liberated from his personal anxieties but he has means of overcoming them with well-known methods. In periods of great change these methods no longer work. Conflicts between the old, which tries to maintain itself, often with new means, and the new, which deprives the old of its intrinsic power, produce anxiety in all directions. Nonbeing, in such a situation, has a double face, resembling two types of nightmare (which are perhaps, expressions of an awareness of these two faces). The one type is the anxiety of annihilating narrowness, of the impossibility of escape and the horror of being trapped. The other is the anxiety of annihilating openness, of infinite, formless space into which one falls without a place to fall upon. Social situations like those described have the character both of a trap without exit and of an empty, dark, and unknown void. Both faces of the same reality arouse the latent anxiety of every individual who looks at them. Today most of us do look at them. (Paul Tillich, The Courage To Be p. 62-63)

Particularly telling is the way Obama's harshest detractors resemble the following anylasis of historical moments when the average person takes on neurotic anxiety:

There is a moment when the average man becomes neurotic: when changes of the reality to which he is adjusted threaten the fragmentary courage with which he has mastered the accustomed objects of fear. If this happens-and it often happens in critical periods of history-the self-affirmation becomes pathological. The dangers connected with the change, the unknown character of things to come, the darkness of the future make the average man a fanatical defender of the established order. He defends it as compulsively as the neurotic defends the castle of his imaginary world. He loses the comparative openness to reality, he experiences an unknown depth of anxiety. But if he is not able to take this anxiety into his self-affirmation his anxiety turns into neurosis. This is the explanation of the mass neuroses which usually appear at the end of an era (see the previous chapter about the three periods of anxiety in Western history). In such periods existential anxiety is mixed with neurotic anxiety to such a degree that historians and analysts are unable to draw the boundary lines sharply. (Ibid. p. 69-70)

Eerie, isn't it?

10:50 PM  

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