“The gods are strange. It is not our vices only they make instruments to scourge us. They bring us to ruin through what in us is good, gentle, human, loving.”
—Oscar Wilde, “De Profundis
I’ve been thinking a lot about “kindness” lately (perhaps for obvious reasons) and the rise of cruelty as a cultural phenomenon, yes, but also as it’s being wielded as a political tool. On the one hand, the right uses cruelty to try to intimidate us (think, for example, about the acts of violence committed by the unmasked or the threats of violence that have now become commonplace at school board meetings—suffice it to say the “Fuck Your Feelings” crowd has a lot of . . . feelings). On the other hand, they mean to demoralize us. Consider the ability of people like, say, Donald (my uncle) to commit even the most egregious crimes with impunity. This amoral strategy presents an ongoing challenge to our sense of fairness, justice, and sanity.
So, what can we do together to use our kindness and empathy in order to ensure the American Experiment doesn’t fail? First of all, we need to urge our leaders to recognize the very real threat the current Republican party poses to American democracy. Democratic leadership must be made to understand that to concede an inch to the other side is to make common cause with fascism.
For our part we must embrace the idea that democracy is always worth fighting for. We have to remember, however, that we always have to be fighting for democracy—it’s not an end in itself, it is a process. We need to be neutral as to the facts (h/t mainstream media) but always biased towards democracy.
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Community, or at least the idea of community has always been important to me and since November 2016, the necessity for community has been amplified. It turns out I like Twitter— a lot. (I worry that this is genetic). I don’t simply like it, though, I’m drawn to it. It makes sense to me. And even though it’s linear there’s a community of like-minded people from whom I can draw strength. Now that Twitter is under threat from malign forces and its future is uncertain the community we build here at The Good In Us is even more important. I know Substack is working on innovations that will make it easier to make this a more vibrant, active, and challenging place for those of us who are in this fight together.
We will be like this seagull:
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT FROM ME
I will try to meet this moment with the measured urgency it deserves, exercise restraint when necessary, embrace righteous fury when called for, and demonstrate the willingness, always, to admit when I’m wrong and try to do better (I know for a fact that this is not genetic).
As the Sexy Bassoonist in “Only Murders in the Building” would say, “Woof. That’s a lot.” But I’ll do my best to live up to it.
WHAT WE CAN EXPECT FROM EACH OTHER
Because I want this to be a safe space for everybody in the community, here are some guidelines:
Proof of vaccination required
(Judicious) swearing encouraged
Treating each other with respect is compulsory.
This applies even to those with whom we disagree. Agreeing with everybody all of the time is boring. Constructive disagreement can be a catalyst for rethinking our entrenched positions or developing better ways to express our beliefs. (I say this as somebody who has very decided opinions.)
My hope is that together we will find an answer to the question: “What, after all, do we owe each other?
Thank you, again, for being here. I am so looking forward to the ride.
To find out more about the company that provides the tech for this newsletter, visit Substack.com.