reasonable or rational

It’s playing endlessly in my head, and I’ve resisted the urge to share. But, it’s not going away until I do. So…

Why the reluctance? Perhaps it’s just wishful thinking or not wanting to be yet another frantic voice sounding the alarm. I’m a grace under pressure kind of guy.

Between trade wars and the war on terror, border walls and Muslim bans, executive orders and Twitter tirades, alternative facts and information blackouts, authoritarian strongman bromances, and infuriating cabinet selections, hurried deregulation and environmental suicide it’s hard not to see this ending badly. Bigly.

So, if this ain’t the “Eve of Destruction,” I don’t know what is.

But, there is the other view – that “different reality” President Trump dubbed “American carnage” in his uplifting (WRONG!) inaugural address.

“Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities, rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation, an education system flush with cash but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge. And the crime, and the gangs, and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential. This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”

For every twitching nerve warning of the brink of something horrific, the President (or at least his speechwriter) believes America is past all that — crawling out the other side of a hellscape and into the dawning light of the day after the destruction.

It’s easy to recognize the absurd hyperbole of the President’s words. But, I’m left to wonder about my own. Is it extreme exaggeration to take literally lyrics sung by Barry McGuire 52 years ago? If I’m still here, that wasn’t the eve of destruction. But, God, that song resonates so powerfully now. So, when Trump-supporting friends tell me “over and over and over again” they “don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction,” can I afford to believe them?

These are the internal struggles others say they face as well. I wake most days wondering: what can I do to build bridges and create unity in my little corner of the world? But other days, like Wednesday, I am immersed in The Resistance.

It started this week when Trump administration officials apparently clamped down on the social media accounts of federal agencies like the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), the National Park Service (NPS), NASA, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). On Tuesday, the Badlands National Park Twitter profile began posting defiant tweets challenging the President’s policy and actions on climate change and other science. The Washington Post attributed those first tweets to a former NPS employee with access to the park’s Twitter account, who has since been blocked.

But, by Wednesday, “rogue” Twitter profiles were springing up by the dozens with handles like @AltEPA, @AltNPS, @AltCDC – many allegedly spawned by current and/or former employees. The #resist hashtag was everywhere. It was a blast for me to join in with encouraging tweets and retweets echoing their messages around the world. I also did my part by emailing the Government Accountability Office to demand an investigation of President Trump’s business conflicts of interest. It all felt empowering after months of post-November impotence and a growing sense of doom. It was time to fight back!

Yet, here I am still weighing my extremes against those of the other side. Such a curse to be mindful of one’s actions. This sense of responsibility be damned!

I suspect this is part of all trying times and every unavoidable revolution. To put one’s faith in diplomacy and the human ability to connect and move others, or to accept the inevitability of war (figuratively, or perhaps literally) and join the revolution?

To become radicalized or marginalized? (Now I went and did it. Hello, NSA. But, not that kind of radicalization… exactly.)

Setting aside objectivity, choosing a side, and throwing caution to the wind is freeing. I cheered on some brave tweets, some serious tweets, and some seriously funny ones this week — also, some truly mean ones. But, doesn’t the other side deserve that!?

And, that’s the problem. I just don’t know. I know what I want: reasonable dialog with rational people who exercise restraint and value mutual respect. But, when that’s not even an option in the moment, can we afford to wait and see?

There’s certainly nothing reasonable or rational about the direction President Trump is pointing, nor about the speed with which he’s moving. If you’re going to get run over anyway, why not at least stand and face the tanks?

If you’ve read this far, you’re probably looking for answers too. Those on the “other side” wrote me off long ago as a “sore loser,” and the revolutionaries on “my side” have surely grown weary of my hesitations. Sorry to disappoint you, but I don’t have an answer for you at the moment – except to say you’re not alone. And, that somehow we’ll get through it.

I’m sittin’ here, just contemplatin’,
I can’t twist the truth, it knows no regulation,
Handful of Senators don’t pass legislation,
And marches alone can’t bring integration,
When human respect is disintegratin’,
This whole crazy world is just too frustratin’,
And you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

Yep, still there.

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Maurice Carter

Maurice Carter

Maurice Carter is President and Founder of Breathe-Water, LLC, where he uses community building, storytelling, consulting, and social media to enable businesses, non-profits, and communities to understand and harness forces for positive change. An Atlanta native living in Covington, GA, Maurice is an active community volunteer, a freelance columnist, and an advocate for causes that build community and promote thoughtful responses to the opportunities and challenges of our day.