I've found it very difficult to listen to or watch any news reports. I have to keep them at a distance. Even reading the newspaper is stressful. I'm so disgusted by the behavior of our alleged leader, and that of the toxic far-right factions that he's so afraid to alienate, that I just can't allow any of it into my brain. I used to believe that as a country and a people, we were better than what we have seen in recent times (not just last weekend). Now, I don't know what to think.
It's one thing to have lived through the Reagan and Bush years feeling that the leadership did not represent my views, and quite another to have as the occupant of the White House a person who does not seem to have enough human feeling to condemn an act of violence rooted in hatred, or even the vile words and behavior of extremists who believe the wrong side won the Civil War. Esquire's Charles Pierce has the right idea: he refers to the president with an asterisk. It requires no explanation, the meaning is quite clear: an egomaniacal buffoon with no experience in government, while technically the holder of the office, is not deserving of the title.
I find myself wondering frequently how the rest of the world views us, and how much damage is being done to our country's image and reputation. Will people hoping for a better life stop believing in the American dream, out of fear that coming here might not be a better option than remaining where they are? Or will they choose to go somewhere less fraught and less divided?
And let's be clear about something: I'm not expressing my feelings from an ivory tower. Boston does not have a shining history with regard to civil rights. I haven't lived within the city limits since the late 1980s, but I work in the city, and I have for much of my adult life. It feels like things have gotten better, but the challenge is still there, every day, but for many it's now economic as well as societal.
The ideals of free speech codified by the founders of the United States mean that we have to allow a white supremacist rally to take place today, but we don't have to attend, or watch, or pay any attention at all. I wish the media would do the same, because without the benefit of an audience, the message would have even less of an impact; it would be merely background noise.
For some time I have been concerned about the future of the United States as a country and a society. Now my feelings have gone from concern to deep worry and a degree of fear. How bad will it get? When I was growing up I didn't think I would see even the beginning of the country's decline within my lifetime. Now I wonder how far it will have progressed by the time I'm gone.
All of that said, humor helps.