So I've come to the last day of a novena of lament to kick off the Lenten season of renewal. Despite the 8 different threads I have been lamenting, I feel as though the biggest cause of lament hasn't yet been addressed. I'm listening to "Bennie and the Jets" and transported to my high school journalism class where I listened to this song so much that my adviser warned me of possible brain damage. 40 years ago life seemed so innocent. What is different now?
What grieves me most is the bifurcated reality that comes from a culture of lying, whether to others or to ourselves, and the consequent disrespect for truth and goodness. I realize now that the mechanism of control that I had relied on presupposed that people can be motivated by what is true and good in ways that go beyond individual gain. By presupposing this, I was confident that I could live in harmony with others if I could grasp what is true and good in a situation, point this out to others, and then agree with them to jointly submit to it.
When I listen to people talking out of purely partisan, tribalistic positions, with no regard for the truth or what is good for all people, hope dies within me and I feel disconnected from the world. I feel like nothing that I say or think will matter to anyone anymore. For some reason, I take it personally, even though I suspect that the disconnection is really inside the other person, as well as within myself. The loss of the possibility of honest dialogue becomes my burden. I'm losing hope that we have the kind of education needed to support democracy.
The events surrounding the 2016 presidential election show me that I can't presume that our society is oriented toward what is true and good, and therefore I can't control my life as I would like. I still believe that this is the best approach for me, I just need to find a way of living without being in control. So I am giving up control for Lent this year and in my Lenten journey, I will search for the peace that control never gave me.
The reason I will not stop living out of a worldview where searching for what is true and good and submitting to it is the path towards peace is the suffering that results from the alternative worldview. The conservative anarchist worldview is derived from the belief that people don't have an inner motivation for what is true and good, and therefore that they have to be poked and prodded or they will stop producing. There's no seed within us to be nurtured from within, so we are appropriately subjects of manipulation from without. There is nothing really true or false, no good or bad, to stand in the way. This is the "beyond morality" worldview of Nietzsche and Hitler.
So in mourning the loss of what is true and good for all people as our guiding light, I am also lamenting the rise of conservative anarchism. We have already seen how might makes right in Trumpians' belief that the power of winning the election makes right anything they can get away with. We have seen countless arguments where their partisan positions are so good, that any means to get there are also rendered good. They deny the reality that peace is a process, a way of working together that can never be achieved through violence and selfish anarchy.