Monday, September 21, 2020

Has our nation hit rock bottom yet?

 



     Almost four years ago I was tagging along with medical workers from the Night Ministry. We found ourselves standing before three people sprawled in a nest of blankets and sleeping bags off Lower Wacker Drive.
     At first I held back. Then, I gingerly nudged forward, afraid they’d clam up as soon as I took out my notebook. But they didn’t. They answered whatever question I asked — their names, what drugs they were taking. I could take pictures. They weren’t embarrassed. They didn’t care about anything except getting those drugs inside themselves.
     Addiction does that. You are locked into feeling that pleasure, or relief, or passing sense of normality. End of the story. You don’t care about the damage you’re inflicting upon yourself or others. You don’t care that the addiction is killing you. You could shake this emaciated woman and ask what her younger self would think of what she’s become. She’d stare back at you, hollow-eyed and uncomprehending. She doesn’t bother to eat food; what does she care about lost dreams?
     That’s why I have to laugh when my somehow still idealistic friends wonder when Donald Trump’s base will abandon him. When they will finally see the ruin his presidency has caused this country and regret their role in supporting it. That’s easy: never. They’ll never give him up, just as many addicts never quit their substances, except by dying.
     The concept of addiction is the best way to make sense of our country today. Trump makes his followers feel good. He soothes the ache in their broken parts. Like heroin, he makes them feel safe and secure even while doing the exact opposite. They’re not safe and secure, but on the street, endangered, living in a country wracked by a pandemic that their drug of choice trivializes and ignores. They’re teetering on an economic cliff, while shivering in fear at pipe-dream fears about socialized medicine.
     What do they care of deterioration of American democratic institutions? They’re in denial. That’s like asking a drunk driver whether his tires are properly inflated. All he cares about is how much is left in the half pint.

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22 comments:

  1. no better way to explain it. Trying to argue with addicts only steels their resolve to delude themselves further. They will not be shaken from their "medicine".

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  2. Thanks for that 2x4 to the skull first thing in the morning Neil.

    I live with someone who is severely addicted to alcohol . Every word of this colomn echos my personal circumstance.

    Still recovering myself from substances and now coevid.

    Arg

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    1. It's been at least 3 weeks since your Covid battle began, FME. I hope it's going as well as could be hoped for.

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    2. Thanks Jakash. All in all it wasn't/ isn't so bad. No respiratory involvement. Tested negative on a follow-up and have lingering muscle weakness and some sort of nerve distinction in my extremities. Could be unrelated,? Back to work. Feeling better every day. Glad to be alive

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    3. Happy to hear that. Thanks for replying, FME. Good luck going forward!

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  3. They all imbibed that insidious RKA--the RED KOOL-AID. It's one of the most destructive drugs imaginable. It destroys minds, and it is in the process of destroying America. Will the sane and sober family members ever again be able to welcome the afflicted and addicted to the dinner table, or some other gathering? Not very likely. It's far too late for that. They've been permanently crossed off the guest list.

    I know somebody who has lost at least four long-time relationships (not just of years, but of decades) to the ravages of RKA (Red Kool-Aid). In one instance, a half-century of camaraderie went down the toilet. It's doubtful if there will ever again be any future contact with those former friends and relatives. Not in this lifetime, anyway. Not even if the Dear Leader resigned tomorrow. The damage from RKA (to both individuals and to America) runs deep--like a pair of lungs scarred by decades of smoking. You can quit puffing, but you'll never really recover completely. The damage has been done...for good


    My own wife had to blow off a dear friend of 25+ years, after that friend became a Trump zombie. She was always pretty nuts, and something of a Karen, but now she hates Blacks and uses the N-word freely and has even given up on all pro sports (baseball, football, even NASCAR) because the players support BLM. The ball club she lived and died for, all her life (the Cubs), has been kissed off. (Hey, they wore BLM shirts!) And that Cub tattoo may have to be scraped away. That's how powerful the Red Kool-Aid is.

    I have had to turn my back on a first cousin who was like a brother to me since we were toddlers (we're both 70+ now). He's a veteran of both Vietnam and Iraq, an Army lifer. Sure, he's been a rabid right-winger for many years, but when he guzzled the Red Kool-Aid, he became somebody I don't even know, and whom I no longer want anything to do with. For years, I looked forward to sitting on his porch in our geezerhood, beers in hand, and laughing about our kid days. That dream is gone. Gone for good.

    The RKA addicts have not just become heartless, and even cruel. They are SICK... as in loco-in-the-cabeza, trolley-off-the-wire sick. My wife and I had to ask ourselves that age-old Ann Landers question: "Are you better off with them or without them?"...when we had to make those sad decisions about disengagement.

    We're now down to our last two friends, both lifelong lefties like us. One was my wife's college roommate in the Sixties. Sadly, while both of them have their heads on straight politically, they're substance abusers. Alcohol. Weed.

    Still, we won't be giving them up anytime soon. They're all we have now.

    Thanks, Donnie. Thanks. I really mean it.

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  4. Remember when people like John Kass were sneering that Obama was "The Messiah," an object of cult-like devotion among his brainwashed minions etc.? This was occasioned by his speech at an outdoor venue furnished with faux Greek columns, which meant that he thought he was Zeus, or something. And oh yeah, some people noticed that he was the first Black president.

    Now we have genuinely addicted, brainwashed followers of the most dangerous and irresponsible president in history, and all people like Kass can do is shrug.

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    1. Actually, I don't, since I never read him. If I may, BS, given all the troubles our nation is facing, to complain about a matter whose obvious solution is apparent, easy, and at your fingertips, seems an odd decision. Were I to complain about the taste of toilet water, you would be tempted to say, "You know Neil, this difficulty is self-inflicted...."

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    2. Oh, I don't read Kass. I'm just using him as a stand-in for all the nitwits who relentlessly trashed Obama over nothing (remember tan suits and mom jeans?) and now blandly accept every Trump outrage while accusing normal people of "Trump Derangement Syndrome."

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    3. That's good. We have to bear in mind what a deforming brand of ignorance racism is: it makes you blind to both the good qualities of the black president and the bad qualities of the white one. To be honest, I truly pity his supporters, rather than hate them. To extend today's metaphor, Russell Brand, the comedian, wrote something about addicts that applies to both: "It is difficult to feel sympathy for these people. It is difficult to regard some bawdy drunk and see them as sick and powerless. It is difficult to suffer the selfishness of a drug addict who will lie to you and steal from you and forgive them and offer them help. Can there be any other disease that renders its victims so unappealing?"

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    4. Kass is the type of person that 100% believes a bird can't shit on him while driving a convertible. The thought of that happening while in it is unimaginable.

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  5. Trumpism — definitely a sickness! At least, that’s one illness I’ll never catch!

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  6. A relative, multiple degreed, accomplished businessman, father of two beautiful children, the last person I'd suspect, is right now living on the streets of Los Angeles, homeless after failing at AA. Then an old close friend, smarter than me, aware of the country's inequalities, a believing Catholic, is an unapologetic Trump supporter. I can't figure out which is the sicker man.

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  7. Trump's CDC has just announced that COVID is not transmitted via droplets in the air. Trump has already said to Woodward that it's not transmitted by surfaces, so I guess it's just magic or demons that make people get sick. So, Trump and his administration are literally willing to sacrifice lives of thousands more Americans to promote their agenda; which is I guess as the Lego song goes, Everything is Awesome!! Pretty close to as low as you can go. I'm sure there's a "lower"; I just don't know where it is.

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  8. An interesting and insightful analysis of many in Cult 45 and their delusional outlook.

    Oh, for the simpler days when they were clinging to guns and religion, rather than idolizing a charlatan who may have never voluntarily handled a gun and whose utilitarian outlook toward Christianity is more cynical than Elmer Gantry's.

    "Has our nation hit rock bottom yet?" is a chilling question, since the answer may be determined by many of the same folks who gave us the reelection of George Bush and who elected this incompetent criminal in the first place.

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  9. I think our idiot leader is very good at comforting cowards. They are not afraid to go into a store without a mask - oh so brave of them. But they are afraid that Biden will gather his forces and attack their suburb and then attack God - do they still wet their beds, too?
    They wouldn’t answer the question but they should be asked why they’re so scared by everything. I keep thinking there must be some way to get through to them, some kind of deprogramming, but I guess I’m just beating my head against a wall.

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    1. There's really no way to get through to them. Or to explain where you're coming from. There never has been. They're fluent in English or Spanish, and but your words might as well be in Norwegian. The fear factor is nothing new. They've always been afraid of "the Other"...fear of The Blacks...or "The Element...as they used to say on the South Side.

      The political paranoia goes way back, too...back to at least the start of the Cold War. Despite winning WWII, being the strongeest country in the world, having the Bomb, too many Americans in the late Forties and early Fifties were scared ALL THE TIME. They pooped their pants whenever the C-word was spoken, and thought that Communists were behind anything that made sense: unions, health care, education, civil rights.

      So we ended up with McCarthy, and a war in Korea, and then Vietnam. And now, fifty, sixty, seventy years later, the same fear and the paranoia are still out there. Maybe worse than ever. It begat Nixon, Reagan, and Bush 43. And finally the worst result of all, in 2016.

      The same fears scared their parents and grandparents and great-grandparents. And even the same buzz words are back...socialized medicine, safe neighborhoods, law and order, Godless Communism.

      For me, it feels a lot like being six or seven or eight again.
      Same shit, different century.

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    2. Had Ford not pardoned Nixon and he had been prosecuted for his crimes, would Reagan have been so willing to violate Boland? Would that restrain Drumpf? Maybe? Probably not, but the hands off policy for ex-presidents hasn't served us well, I suggest a prohibition on pardoning the man with the power to pardon.



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    3. Joe Biden reminds me of Ford, who was also a good and decent man. I liked Ford very much. But I didn't vote for him, mostly because he had pardoned Nixon, whom I despised. I was young and foolish and short-sighted in '76...and later realized that I should have voted for Ford. He did the right thing.

      Prosecuting Nixon, and sending him to prison, would have torn the country even further apart. After Vietnam and Watergate, America needed unity, not more divisiveness. We needed to put all that, and Nixon, behind us. Ford even called his excellent and candid autobiography "A Time To Heal."

      My "favorite president" list is a short one.
      Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Truman, Obama...and Gerald Ford.

      I hope I can add Joe to the list. On the other hoof, I hope to see Former Leader in an orange jumpsuit. And taking a one-way ride to Attica...in a rubber truck.

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  10. The column along with the general gist of the comments brings one word to mind: deplorables. I think it fits, but we all know where it got Hillary. And feeling sorry for the poor saps is probably a losing proposition as well.

    john

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  11. Beside inspiring more comment than usual, I this is your best in a long list of great analogies Neil. It explains a lot.

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