Saturday, April 9, 2011

Bad Moon Rising

I’m not sure what to think about the budget compromise that happened last night.  I guess the most positive thing I can say about it is that I think it made the best of a very shitty situation.  Given last November’s election, and the resulting constitution of the House of Representatives, could I have expected anything better?  No, I don’t think I could have realistically hoped for better.  And it could have been much worse.  Still, I was sad last night because progress in areas like women’s rights, education, and health care now seems to be up for renegotiation.  Programs and policies, such as Medicare and educational aid/loans, that I pretty much took for granted now are in serious trouble.

I was in college from 1964 through 1969, with a year out for my novitiate.  Those were amazing years culturally and politically.  The seminary faculty was composed of priests generally to the right of faculties in secular schools.  I remember our English professor, Fr. Eric, complaining about the tightness of the jeans that men were wearing (“Those pants are so tight, you can tell the guy’s religion!”).  Another professor, Fr. Cyprian,  repeated over and over again the classical adage, In medio stat virtus (“Virtue is found in the middle”).  Our Dean of Studies and sometime Greek and Latin professor, Fr. Myron,  repeated his favorite mantra, “Be not the first by whom the new is tried, nor last to lay the old aside.”  Moderation and caution, then, were the admonitions we were hearing while the world, including the Roman Catholic Church, changed around us.

Over the years, I’ve remembered those times and that advice.  I’ve come to understand that, while the experiences of the 1960's changed many of us, those experiences did not change the generations that have arisen since.  Many people in the younger generations seem to me to be generally reactionary, and I just can’t understand that.  Where is their idealism?  Where is their questioning?  Where is their wonder at the marvels of freedom and of adult life?  A lot of them seem to want to go back to a time they never knew, a time that many in my generation thought we had permanently killed as we protested our way through the 1960's.  The likes of Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck—all of them seem to want it to be 1953 all over again.  Some of this type of person are in the Congress now making cultural and budgetary decisions that, if enacted, would put us back in the 1950's.  That knowledge makes me worry about what will happen in the next two years.

I adopted my own mantra in the 60's: “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”  I have failed many times in my life, and I am not good at failure.  You’d think I would be better at it, having gone through it so often, but I still think failure sucks.  Failure, though, is one of the two possible results of the nothing–vetured–nothing–gained philosophy.  Risking failure, I have to figure out what kind of “venture” I want to explore in the coming months leading up to November, 2012.  I know that I have to dare to do something. 

“I see a bad moon rising.”  We can’t have another election with results like those of 2010.

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