If you were watching the State of the Union address last night, you might have asked yourself ‘What compelled our divided representatives to unite and sit together in a show of solidarity?
And you might have said ‘Oh…well, they must be doing it to honor those who’ve lost their homes because of poor oversight of the markets…you know embarrassment over all the corporate greed.’ And you would be wrong, that was not enough.
Or you might have said ‘Oh, then surely they were doing so in honor of those who have died from insurance companies dropping their care…and all those who suffer because of government inefficiencies.’ And again, you would be wrong, still not enough.
Well, then ‘Surely, they are doing it for those who serve the country, the soldiers, the teachers, the parks people…you know, all those folks, right?’ Nope.
Maybe it was simpler: ‘Ok, they were doing it for us, for the people, to show us that they respect the fact that we pay them, that we give them the life they have, and they want to give us the feeling that they are united to fix the problems we have…you know, a genuine change of heart.’ No, not really.
You might be getting confused since these are certainly valid reasons to put aside differences and find solutions.
What if I told you that they were sitting together because some lunatic went and shot one of them, and that gave them a sense that they were more alike than different?
‘Well, that would be cowardice! You mean to tell me, that they ignored all those other reasons to work together, and have instead chosen psychopathic behavior as an inspiration for solidarity?’
Well, that’s what the guy at the podium said.
And you might be inclined to say ‘Well, that’s not only humiliating, it’s actually stupid, because they are basically reinforcing the very behavior they are trying to avoid. How can they be that stupid?’ Well, you know what they say about absolute power, it corrupts the mind.
For the pacifist such events are important because if distinctions are not made between ‘the people’ and ‘psychopathy’ then we get lumped together, and therefore become complicit in depending upon violence for progress. Our government respects violence as an organizing principle, this is obvious. But I do not wish to allow some murderous barbarian to define me or my political will, and so I must speak against a false unity in favor of one inspired by genuine and ubiquitous human suffering. I must point to the many instances where these ‘representatives’ chose NOT to sit together when people were dying and suffering as a result of their self-interests. We must not give our trust away so easily. We must not be like the abused spouse, so eager to believe that some change of heart has taken place, that we deny our own past experiences. We must have the self-esteem to demand a long-term penance for all the abuse, before we choose to believe. Let us not allow them to so quickly congratulate themselves.
Equality is Freedom!