Newmann: Fractured fairy tales
“In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again” — Alice chasing the white rabbit down the rabbit hole in “Alice in Wonderland”
Strange and unusual events seem to be the norm these days.
The conflict in Ukraine has, of course, captured the bulk of the headlines — and the hearts of folks who cannot fathom the wanton destruction of a people and a nation.
The situation also rekindles memories of the “them-and-us” Cold War of the mid-20th century when Communism and democracy were at loggerheads … and bomb shelters were in vogue. Déjà vu all over again.
Fortunately, at least so far, the western nations have resorted to economic sanctions against Russia and are providing financial aid and weapons for Ukraine. Given Vladimir Putin’s not-so-subtle hints of an escalated war and the use of nuclear weapons, a no-fly zone seems to be off the books. No point in poking the bear.
Against the backdrop of this tragic situation, as a nation fights to maintain its freedom, we seem to be playing out a rather phantasmagorical series of events in the United States. And it’s a series of events that bring into question “united.”
No doubt that times are tough — and, perhaps, getting tougher. So factions and frictions are no surprise.
The long siege of COVID — together with the subsequent “debates” over masks, vaccines and even the legitimacy of the virus — has caused some serious fissures within our society. Issues which may have bubbled under the surface have now come up front and center … and have also become highly politicized.
Unfortunately, politics have seldom been benign and have often lacked logic. There always seem to be agendas, with each party claiming that they have the answer while noting that the other side is a clown show. That’s OK when all is going well — or even moderately not so well. No surprise there. It’s happened before. Why agree when you can disagree?
But here we are in a pretty tense world situation — and the two political parties could not be more polarized. And, if that’s not strange enough, they’re even polarized internally. Go figure.
The Democrats have their “squads,” who decry the current state of the party and decided it would be a good idea to give an alternative state of the union — immediately after the State of the Union. Lots of unity there.
And the Republicans, who have any number of folks vying for power, turn on each other with unmitigated fury if someone breaches the party line. Good luck figuring out what that line is. Again, so much for unity.
Meanwhile, a former occupant of the White House never seems to be able to make up his mind as to whether Putin is a “genius” or, maybe, not. But he also thinks it might be a good idea to paint Chinese insignias on our fighter jets and bomb the poop (he used a different noun) out of Russia. Then, he added, the Russians and the Chinese could fight it out. Talk about lighting a fire.
So here we are, with a very significant part of the world in strife coupled with the potential for all sorts of nasty stuff domestically — and our representatives seem to have problems showing the least signs of unity. Even among their own.
And if they can’t, how can we?
Maybe it’s time to ease off the divisiveness — and to start building a bit more consensus.
We don’t, after all, want to follow in Alice’s footsteps.
Tom Newmann splits his time between Edwards and Queenstown, New Zealand. He has been going winter-to-winter since 1986. He was also a journalist in Missoula, Montana, at the Missoulian for quite a few years. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.