Thursday, July 24, 2008
The depth of the divide in this country, and why Barack Obama may end up as a polarizing rather than a uniting figure
This is a contract between the opinions of two people I respect.
I have known Waldo for over thirty years, and I have learned to respect his opinion the most when I initially disagree with it.
I have never met Becky, but have come to know her through her blog posts, which are consistently thought out to a depth to which other blogs should aspire.
Not surprisingly, Becky being a committed Libertarian and Waldo being a lifetime iconoclast, they often disagree.
This time, in their disagreement over Senator Barack Obama's appearance in Germany.
Waldo sees cultural sensitivity and homage to the Bauhaus style.
Becky shivers and summons up the image of Nuremburg rallies and the cult of personality.
Both are worth reading, and between them you get a sense of the divide in this country, not between ideologues and pundits, but between somber intellectuals with a wealth of historical, cultural, and literary information as the foundation for their interpretations.
In stark terms, Waldo and Becky represent opposite reflections of a common insight: as a country we are on the verge of a major paradigm shift, not just within this country but across the world.
Global warming, the end of cheap oil, the decline of Western world domination, the rise of competing economies in India, China, and Brazil, the specter of new technologies....
I have no idea what will kick-start the shift. If I knew that, if anybody knew that, it wouldn't be a true paradigm shift.
Unfortunately, such shifts--aside from being unpredictable--necessarily lead through difficult times, which is why people are necessarily susceptible to looking for guides.
The problem is using our brains as well as our hearts to figure out which ones are true guides, and which ones are not.
Guessing wrong is not an option.