I Need a Moment

I’ve got more publishing and podcasting news coming shortly, but for today I just need to take a breath.

I mean, is my piddling little writing endeavor even worth it, as I sit here watching my country die?

John Minchillo / AP and NBC News

That’s my home state burning. Where I was born and lived most my life. Most of my family there, and all my old friends. I have many friends in the Minnesota National Guard.

Decades of inaction against systematic racism. Decades of economic policies that have stagnated wages, destroyed the middle class, and created rampant wealth inequality. Blatantly political and ignorant responses to the COVID epidemic, leading to the three times as many deaths as any other country. Extreme political partisanship whipped up by for-profit, sensationalist media.

All just tinder for want of a spark. And that spark came. The city burns.

I don’t know what the answer is. People need to be able to protest a glaring injustice, without their movement and message being usurped by outsiders. There doesn’t seem to be any defense to what that Minneapolis police officer did. But we’ve been here before. The officer deserves a fair trial, but so does the family of George Floyd and the public. It’s highly questionable if the system we have is even capable of bearing all that weight evenly.

I think part of the answer is to build a fully independent branch of the Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute police misconduct. Right now, that responsibility is left at the feet of district attorneys, folks who have to work side-by-side with the police to do their job. After throwing one cop in jail, these DAs will have to go back and work with that cop’s colleagues and partners. How can you expect that to work out? That’s not fair for anyone.

But this is just one tiny detail, of one of too many problems my country faces today. The political split doesn’t seem like it will be mend-able any time soon. When the landslide comes in the November elections, the other side will resist and the conflict will continue.

The echo chambers on Facebook and social media will only make things worse. I have seen many people on Facebook in the past day celebrating breaks with friends and followers, championing blocking and “unfriending”. Why? Facebook is already a horrible and ineffective place to push politics. What good does sealing yourself off in a bubble do? All that does is cut you off from any understanding of the dialogue on the other side.

I don’t know if my country is dying, or if it is going through the throes of some grand metamorphosis, to rise as a great phoenix from these embers. But it’s hard to watch it all happening from so far away.

I don’t really feel like peddling fiction right now. Real life has become too dramatic.

I’ll be back with writing news in a few days. I just need a moment right now.

~JM

3 thoughts on “I Need a Moment

  1. It’s morning. I opened your computer, read your post, worked on a novel a while, then joined my wife briefly to watch the news.

    Strange times, but then times are always strange. In 1968, I was in Michigan on a summer archaeology dig when MLK was assassinated and they burned down Detroit. Minneapolis looks a lot like that.

    A mob, or a nation on its way to war, or the whole of humanity, makes no sense. How could it when every particle of humanity has its own mind and its own motivations. Even the general trends which historians seek out are countered by other trends.

    You said, “is my piddling little writing endeavor even worth it,” but that was rhetorical. I know you know the answer because I’ve read your novels.

    Mankind, en masse, makes no sense. Historians make sense by shutting out enough chaos to reduce the rest to something that can be comprehended. Novelists reduce chaos to something that can be felt. And right now we need that.

    But you knew that, and we all get weary sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

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