Pur Autre Vie

I'm not wrong, I'm just an asshole

Monday, November 14, 2016

Put On the Oxygen Mask

I think a lot of us are pretty torn up right now.  And the thing is, many of us who are emotionally devastated are not the ones who have the most to fear from a Trump administration.  Of course we are all newly cognizant of how dangerously ignorant and gullible our fellow voters are, but the particular consequences of this election will be very unevenly distributed.

It can therefore feel self-indulgent to attend to our own feelings, when so much more is at stake for others.  But I think we should all resist any self-flagellation in this area.  In fact, I would go further, and I would say that it is imperative for people to find what mental peace they can.  Think of the safety announcement that is given at the beginning of an airplane flight:  first put the oxygen mask on yourself, and then take care of the people seated next to you.  This is the only sensible way to proceed, because a few seconds without oxygen is not that big a deal, but if the only person capable of affixing the oxygen masks passes out while trying to help others, then everyone will be deprived of oxygen.

Now of course it depends on exactly how you find mental equilibrium.  You can't decide that voting just isn't for you anymore.  But if you need to withdraw a little, turn your mind to other things, take comfort in good friends and good food, as I've urged people to do, then not only should you not feel guilty, but you should feel confident that you are doing the right thing.  You've got to preserve your mental equilibrium so that you will be ready for the fights to come.

I am finding comfort in books.  I am also focusing on areas of my life that had been somewhat neglected.  You should do the same, or whatever works for you.  This is going to be a long slog.  If we can't laugh, then we will be far too miserable to fight.  We will be dead before we have reached the battlefield.  It is precisely because there are people who are more vulnerable than we are that we must preserve ourselves.  Lincoln kept his sense of humor during his terrible war, and Churchill during his.  We should model ourselves after them.


Blogger Alan said...

It's true...

One of the most striking facts to me from the 1.5 Lincoln biographies I read is how likable, chill, and sociable he was. There's this popular conception of him as this depressive, intense, brooder (Abraham Lincoln: Goth Superhero), and while he had those qualities, he was also a guy who would walk into a new town and within weeks have everybody who was somebody congregating around him, captivated for hours by his hilarious and astute yarns. Lincoln was, in a unique way, charismatic af. I am so un-Lincoln; I want to be more like Lincoln. (I wish I were a little bit taller, I wish I were a baller...)

11:30 AM  

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