Wednesday, June 2, 2010

No Middle East After Midnight

I don't purport to know how all happy families remain similarly happy, but I do know that couples find personal ways to minimize needless relationship tension. Whether it's making sure sex is scheduled, having separate bathrooms, or never ever allowing your parents or in-laws to spend the night, we all arrange our neuroses such that their impact on our happiness is tempered. Which is how devoted partner and I established the rule: No Middle East After Midnight. Back when I thought giving a damn would do me any good, we would argue long into the night. On weeknights. When we should have been rejuvenating ourselves for the next day. Finally, the bleary-eyed and highly irritable pair of us decided that there are just some topics of conversation that should not be part of our pre-sleep ritual.

We have, for the most part, kept to this over the past 8 or so years. I think we ran over a couple of times, but we haven't been up until 4am arguing about it in recent memory. In fact, we haven't talked all that much about it at all. Which is totally attributable to my change of heart regarding Middle East politics. Where I once cared very very very deeply and equally as vocally, I decided after one of the many ridiculous failures of communication/negotiation/weapons discharge that I hoped everyone in the region, more or less, developed amnesia/ebola and we could try again in 50 years.

Recent events have been grappling with my resolve to not give a shit. Which is how we ended up yelling at each other (albeit well before midnight) yesterday evening. Because in the grand scheme of things what we should really spend our energy arguing about is a fight neither of us has any blood or stake in.

But, since I don't want to actually talk this particular breed of politics here (mostly because my opinions in my circle are deeply deeply unpopular and I think if I'm going to lose friends I'd like to do it in a less pointless way), I was trying to come up with some pithy parable that would express my views. And then I realized that was pretty ridiculous too.

So I'll say what I said to devoted partner because I think specifics, in this case, really really cloud the issue - and the issue is cloudy enough as is. I know that capital-J Justice and capital-R Reality are rarely the same. It is a personal failing of mine that I am so fixated on the capital-J Justice issues when I could be seeing how just I could make reality. I'm also hamstringed by a fundamentally Hobbesian view of humanity where, in the end, without threat of repercussion, we're all deeply evil animals of the variety we tsk-tsk at when they're called Hutus and Tutsis (while steadfastly refusing to get involved). Some cliches, such as absolute power corrupts absolutely, are cliches because they represent fundamental truths. It makes it difficult for me to subscribe to the many nuanced rationalizations thrown around because, to me, they're so pathetically transparent.

So while I don't believe in utopia or buying the world a Coke while it links hands, I also don't believe that some people are fundamentally better than others. I think reality shapes us all, and in periods of extreme stress, it shapes us like cancer shapes healthy cells.

1 comment:

  1. My husband and I have very little intersection on our political views. I hate arguing about politics, he loves it. (He grew up in an activist, loud and I'll say it, dysfunctional, home.) I do my best to avoid any kind of discussion because I always feel pressured to defend the entirity of the people who think the way I do.

    All I want is to eat good food and have some nice shoes and purses. I'll do some volunteer work on the side and not worry about the things that I can't change, like World Hunger.

    Can't we all just get along?