Editor’s Note: Please enjoy this column Josh Ruffin wrote in 2015. Talk about an appropriate headline!
I’m doing my best to focus. I know I should be covering and dismantling whatever nonsense the GOP candidates are saying right now — speaking of, go and read Hillary Clinton’s response to Mitch McConnell saying that she’s “playing the gender card;” it’s glorious — but, at least for these couple of weeks, I just can’t.
And it’s not for lack of initiative (though, okay, maybe it’s a little of that), but rather because of something I’ve realized covering or semi-covering the last two presidential campaigns: the country is, by and large, leaning gradually left, particularly when it comes to social issues, and eventually that will bleed over, as it already ideologically does, into domestic policy.
Example: same-sex rights activists have been fighting for universal marriage equality for years and years, not just because they want everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, to be recognized as human beings, but because they want universal application of next-of-kin rights, visitation and so forth. It’s a policy that cuts into the economics of basic human decency, and finally, finally, more Americans are beginning to realize that.
So. It’s not that there’s little else to be said — it’s that everything will be said or expressed, organically and on a grander scale than this.
We should all be well aware, as inhabitants of this planet, this nation, our own lives, of what exactly our role is in — to borrow a phrase I heard a good deal in my Christian upbringing — “the greater scheme of things.” It’s a little like, as best I can tell, giving up the reins on one level and gripping them tighter on another.
In other words: focusing on doing what you can, as an individual, to make things better for everyone around you, and either trusting others to do the same or hoping that it’ll at least rub off on them.
It’s a dicey proposition, I know. Leaving human beings to their own devices always is, because you can’t trust them to not revert to that poison combination of self-interest and baser instinct. And, for sure, there will be hiccups, even downright failures: we’re still way behind the rest of the First World when it comes to gun control; women still have to contend not just with unequal pay in the workplace, but the continued struggle to exert full political and social control over their own bodies; Donald Trump is still getting attention as a viable presidential candidate, the fault for which falls entirely on us.
Even Barack Obama, long-championed as a paragon of progressive social values, had to slowly come around on same-sex marriage, then finally have his hand forced by an endearingly loose-lipped Joe Biden.
And while it’s true that for every Tammy Baldwin or Corey Booker we have a Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio, the balance, overall, is tipping, and fundamentalist conservatives have no new boogeymen to trot out of the closet — look no further than the recycled Cold War rhetoric the Republican field unleashed when Cuba became fair tourist game again.
This is not a suggestion that we all just let fate take its course; fate, to an extent, is what we make it, and any religion, faith or philosophy that preaches predetermination or its direct opposite is nonsense.
This is, if you’re wondering where I’m going with this, something of a pronouncement: I feel fine. Not great, but fine. Because despite the sea levels rising, the gender and income inequality, the proliferation of anti-vaccine crusaders and the green-lighting of a “Joe Dirt” sequel, there is a lot to appreciate about this world.
There is a moment in the graphic novel “Watchmen” in which, just before a cataclysmic event that wipes out all of New York City, two peripheral characters who have been bickering for the entire book turn to each other and, in their final act before being struck dead, turn to each other and embrace.
Panicked? Desperate? Yes and yes. But there are infinitely worse things to do with your final moments, and humanity, at last, knows.