Has a Point Been Reached Where No One Realizes the Catastrophe We've Suffered?

PART I in an American Millennial Series: What Danger, or Glory, Awaits Us on the Other Side?

By Octavia Ratiu

AUSTIN, Texas (Texas Insider Report) — What will our country look like in 2021, with the COVID-19 pandemic hopefully in the past and a bitterly fought and unprecedentedly divisive presidential election behind us? To what end do we struggle to keep our nation together, a mishmash tapestry of voices crying out for justice, for peace and for prosperity for all?

Many of us are puzzled at how wild, rough and stubborn the surrounding world might become – and what danger or glory alike await us on the other side.

Is it still possible to heal and grow from the wreckage that 2020 has wrought?

The famous beginning of the narrative epic poem, "The Divine Comedy," sets the tone for an otherwise average man’s journey through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven. Written by the Italian medieval poet Dante Alighieri, the follwoing opening might well ring truer today than it did in the 14th century – it could be argued that the America of the 21st Century has come to a fork in its own narrative.
“In the middle of the journey of our life, I came to myself within a dark wood where the straight way was lost. Ah, how hard a thing it is to tell what a wild, and rough and stubborn wood this was, which in my thought renews the fear!”

The socio-political backdrop for these questions is uncomfortable at best – 245 years after its founding, our grand experiment of brash, American democracy has come to a disturbing inflection point. Either the Founding Fathers “built better than they knew” – and somehow accounted for the future of a nation of 300+ million people, nearly 4 million square miles of land, and a cacophonous public discourse – or our democratic republic, this City on a Hill, has finally run its course.

The stakes have never been more urgent. More telling a foil is the fact that Dante’s Pilgrim is humble enough to know that he has lost his way.

Ask a Leftist culture warrior his or her thoughts, and one might hear the following manifesto:
“Unbridled capitalism and institutionalized racism are at the core of today’s problems. This country’s wealth has been built on the backs of BIPOC, and slavery was the original primitive accumulation of capital.

"Without massive redistribution of wealth, defunding the police state, nationalizing healthcare, and free college education, Millennials and Gen Z will have no future.”

On the other side lies an equally ideological and rousing call to action. The conservative ideological take on current events runs as follows:
“The restrictions of individual freedom and cultural censorship are toxic to the ends of a free society.

"Today’s narrative is that privilege removes certain voices from the national conversation, that a racial lens must be used to promote fairness for all, and that increasing regulations will promote a better and healthier society.

"Without the tolerance of different viewpoints, our nation will fall.”

As is often the case in today's grayscale world, there is a 3rd Way – a balm against extremism and all forms of distraction from reality: in the form of politics, echo chambers, panem et circenses.

The latter happened eventually to Rome, after the Roman Republic ceased to exist and the Roman Empire began. The declining Roman heroism prompted the government to keep the populace happy by distributing free food, and staging huge entertainment spectacles.

This phenomenon has occurred to every empire that ever rose and fell – usually due to enemies within its walls rather than outside belligerent forces.

Our Protestant and Puritan roots have propagated a work ethic that “we are what we do.” Distraction runs rampant, as we try to escape the hamster wheel and rat race of the modern working world.
  • Has a point been reached where hardly anyone realizes the nature of the catastrophe we've suffered?
  • Do Americans act and talk as if what they call science still made sense?
  • Is it still coherent and rational, when in fact our actions and talk are radically incoherent.
This is not a fiction. Its precisely what's happened in our post-modern world with the language and practice of "morality" – both in regard to the way in which ordinary people talk, think and act, and in regard to the way in which the so-called moral philosophers (and/or politicians) talk about "morality."

Today's political language of morality is no longer intelligible, coherent, or rational.

Octavia Ratiu surveys the Political & Cultural Landscape for Texas Insider via the lens of a 2nd-Generation Millennial American. A grateful patriot of a Democratic Republic allegedly in crisis, her views – neither Conservative nor Liberal – are shaped by an experience of freedom as a gift.