January 22, 2021

Cynicism Gives Way To Hope


Not in my wildest dreams, or nightmares, would I have thought I'd witness the events of the last few weeks in my country. Sure, seeing mobs, riots, and armed police on every corner are not unfamiliar events in other places, in other countries.

Americans have marches, protests against racism or sexism or drunk drivers, or any of the dozens of injustices that exist. Waving flags, singing songs, chants, raised fists...that is part of America. We wear our emotions on our sleeves and have the right to protest against what we perceive to be wrong. 

Sometimes things are not peaceful: the 1965 Selma march, the over-the-top protests at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, the riots in Watts, protests in Furguson over the shooting of Michael Brown.....there are times when a lawful gathering became something much worse, or an obvious injustice spark an outpouring of rage that results in mayhem and death.

But, the swarming of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6th created a whole new category. This was the first time since the Civil War that there was a mass of people angry enough at perceived slights to attempt to stop the government in its tracks, to kidnap and maybe even assassinate political leaders. "Hang Mike Pence" was particularly disturbing.

Promises of a repeat performance, with more weapons and worse consequences, was threatened for the period just before and during the inauguration of Joe Biden. Downtown Washington became an armed camp. Rings of blockades, layer upon layer of temporary fencing, upwards of 20,000 National Guard troops added to the Metropolitan Washington police force to create a literal armed wall around key buildings.

A crowd of spectators hoping to see this once every four-year swearing-in ceremony were kept so far away that watching television made much more sense. I must note, however, that the display of 200,000 flags was awe-inspiring and a perfect statement of national unity.

All the upheavals were because millions of us live in a world detached from reality. What is desired, wanted, expected, and hoped for, even when based on a completely fictional foundation, is plenty to trigger the worst in way too many people. The willingness to sacrifice both themselves and a society of laws was chillingly obvious.

To feel very nervous about our immediate future is not really cynicism; it is pragmatic. To ignore or downplay how seriously off track we are is to live with our collective head in the sand., The QAnon satanic pedophile-run cannibalistic government deep state and other conspiracy theories are no longer the stuff of horror movies or those who wear tinfoil on their head. They have moved from the shadows to the sunlight, though the lack of any dramatic event on January 20th has left many QAnoners dispirited. That is the tough part about believing gibberish.

Even so,  I sense a feeling of hope, not only in myself and Betty but in the folks who leave comments on this blog and those I interact with in other settings. We are not rose-colored-glasses kind of people. Making it to our age means we have seen and experienced enough to have a healthy dose of cynicism coursing through our veins.

The change of leadership in Washington feels so much more consequential. There is a real sense that the shift in attitude and programs are going to start to put the last four years behind us. There is a trust that the country will move back into the coalition of nations, no longer shunning our allies, and no longer ignoring or coddling our enemies.

A recognition of the seriousness of climate change, on a meaningful immigration policy that isn't built around the misery of others, a concerted effort to bring Covid under control, the protection of those damaged economically by the massive loss of jobs....all these things suddenly seem possible. 

An administration that goes about its sworn duty, without demeaning others, lying as a matter of course, embracing wild-eyed conspiracy theories, and announcing policies and airing grievances on Twitter. A government built on the basic premise that men, women, white, black, brown, Asian, and Native Americans are all equal in God's sight and deserve a meaningful seat at the table.

The road ahead will not be easy. We have decades, if not centuries of injustices to finally admit and find a way to move forward. The fractures in our sense of community and a shared future are deep, dangerous, and not going away quickly or without more pain and struggle.

Nevertheless, the cynicism, anger, even rage of the past four years is being replaced with hope. I am more than ready to endure whatever we must go through now that I can see a future that is better than our past.

Maybe Bon Dylan said it best almost 60 years ago:

And how many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free?
Yes, and how many times can a man turn his head
And pretend that he just doesn't see?

The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind

The wind I feel is the wind of change, and it feels good to me.


  1. Thoughtful post. Thanks!

    Cynicism isn't the necessary product of experience, in my view; lucidity is.

    Sadly, lucidity doesn't come to all Americans, because many of them are living not in the shared world, but in an authoritarian Bizarro World sustained by media outlets like Fox, Sinclair and OAN.

    Most Americans want the same things: our freedoms to continue; our safety to be assured; our families and our neighbors to prosper; our nation's sphere of influence to expand.

    But millions of Americans don't want those things. They want instead to wield power—the power to humiliate, and even exterminate, anyone they envy, distrust, or simply dislike.

    You nailed it when you wrote, "All the upheavals were because millions of us live in a world detached from reality. What is desired, wanted, expected, and hoped for, even when based on a completely fictional foundation, is plenty to trigger the worst in way too many people."

    I have no solutions, except to say: never, never, never, never dignify the bilge spilling out of Bizarro World. It's fascism, pure and simple.

    1. Not standing up to evil or non-truths is the same as quietly supporting them. We must never get too comfortable or to apathetic to respond.

  2. Summed up perfectly. We're with you.

  3. I sincerely hope we have begun the turn towards a more intelligent, informed & considerate mindset. We must never forget there has always been a segment of America that longs for an autocratic fascist solution. They seek to have advantage & dominion over others. Surely we must now recognize that it can happen in this country. Based on what we have seen I would certainly not put faith in our religious institutions protecting our freedoms. Our courts did manage to perform their function. To keep this democratic free country we must continually show up at the voting booth.

    1. This dangerous period is not going to pass quickly or easily. Too many people have too much invested in keeping things on edge and out of balance.

      Like you, Fred, I agree we can not let down our guard or dismiss these groups as not a power to be reckoned with.

      Even so, I hope that the last four years, and certainly the last few weeks have been a clear wakeup call.

  4. Time will tell..a lot of crazy trumpers and QAnon types out there. Two women, in fact, in the Republican Party as we speak. One just announced yesterday that the Sandy Hook school shooting was staged. One has a criminal record. What kind of people elect someone like this?

    I feel somewhat hopeful, but dark forces are gathering for 2024. Systemic racism and religious extremism is alive and unwell thanks to Fox, Limbaugh and their ilk. No one makes them accountable , so it will continue, until we do. Same with people in our government, military and law enforcement agencies who committed treason or insurrection. Without accountability, nothing will change.

    1. Mary if it helps I moved to Texas from Colorado and I expect that little miss pearls and glasses will get chomped to bits sooner rather than later including by her own party.

    2. The members of the GOP who helped the attempt to subvert the election results must pay a price. They cannot be allowed to rewrite history. I am encouraged by reports of many major companies distancing themselves and their money from these fools.

      The representatives who spout QAnon BS will not last long. But, that does beg the question, who voted for them and where were all the sane people?

  5. My eyes are open, but I can't help feeling hopeful and I like that much better than the despair I was feeling before the 20th.

    1. I may be setting myself up for a big fall, but hope is a powerful emotion and I am sticking with it.

  6. Yes, many of us are hopeful like you, Bob. We realize there are so many things that need to be fixed/addressed, but having a competent administration is surely the right start, right?!? And a president who would rather work at the problems the country is facing rather than head out golfing - just all makes me feel a wee bit better. I will continue to pray daily for this administration & for our country that we can get back on track & heading in the right direction.

    1. One change is already a pleasant shift: I don't wake up to a dozen new fires or controversies, angry tweets, or some new law to harm the environment, people, our allies, or our fight against Covid.

      The lack of daily drama is very welcome.

  7. I am just grateful that we now have a president who actually has a plan on how to deal with covid. It may not be perfect but at least I feel we really have a leader.

    1. Absolutely. We are starting way behind, but least those in charge are taking Covid seriously and do have a real plan, not just a wish and a prayer