A Thought Experiment For An Awful 4th of July
Things feel “over” in the United States right now. The truth is both better and worse than that.
Sitting on a park bench
That’s older than my country
— Minus The Bear, “Absinthe Party At The Fly Honey Warehouse”
Right now, in the United States, things feel over.
This is not a sentiment exclusively held by one or another subset of society — it’s pretty damn near ubiquitous. In January, a new NPR/Ipsos poll found that seven in ten Americans feel the US was “in crisis and at risk of failing”.
In fact, when you look at the poll report itself, it’s even more striking:
“A majority, regardless of their gender, racial/ethnic group, generation, or region of the country, feel that America is in crisis and at risk of failing. There is also broad consensus among Democrats (68%), Republicans (79%), and independents (67%) on this.”
This start-of-2022 poll was, of course, taken nearly half a year before the end of Roe. Or any of the other horrors of the last six months, from Uvalde to Buffalo.
Six months ago feels like a lifetime.
We witness a horrific tragedy that should provoke rapid reform, and already know that nothing will change. It is enraging, yes, but numbing too. In an age where even NPR refers to a potential economic crash as a “vibe shift”, where collective trauma is seemingly ubiquitous, it is hard to ignore so many voices, usually in different registers and tones, all stating outright that the collective unconscious just feels especially bad right now.
So many of us, even people who tend to be optimistic, feel keenly in this moment, not just reason to be pessimistic about the future, but reason to wonder if it is even worth thinking about in the first place. People (including myself, at times) doomscroll for a reason. (The very fact “doomscroll” has entered mass consciousness says a lot in itself.) Everything seems to be pointing towards an end of sorts, a sense…