Goodwill Towards ????--A Post for the Anchoress
This morning she posted an entry entitled Is the left capable of extending Good Will toward anyone? From internal evidence in the post, I strongly suspect that it was at least colored by our mutual difficulties:
There are left-leaning people I know on and off the internet who - intelligent and basically nice as they might be - like to think of themselves as "enlightened" even as they insist upon living in a dark world on endless negativity. Everything is bad. Everything - oh, EVERYTHING - is the fault of George W. Bush. Everyone is stupid, except those with the same outlook.
So is the left capable of extending Good Will toward anyone? Well, Anchoress, I'm not really sure, any more than I was sure below that "the left" was or was not "hostile to democracy" as Reverend Sensing suggested.
I do know that I have considerable good will (with small letters) toward both you and Reverend Sensing, and I think neither of you stupid. Now maybe I'm part of "the left" and maybe I'm not. I'm certainly a left-leaning acquaintance of yours on the internet. I also have an account over at Daily Kos, though I don't publish diaries there, since I have a blog of my own. And, from internal evidence, I gather that the folks who post on Daily Kos are the rough-and-ready litmus test of "the left" for questions such as whether they have any good will or care for democracy.
Do the folks over on Daily Kos have any Good Will towards anyone? Don't really know. They do seem to blog overwhelmingly more about what they are annoyed with than anything else. And perhaps, if you yourself are not annoyed with those things, they might seem a little over the top. Do they really care for democracy? I think a fair-minded assessment would say they do. Perhaps they even care a little too much about it to keep an even temper in the contemporary world. I certainly care about them, have good will towards them, and would relieve the sufferings of their anger if I could.
Do I live in a dark world on endless negativity? Maybe. It's worth considering at least as a possibility. As a client of the Mental Health System, I can say from personal experience that the threshold of mental illness is something you cross in only one direction. It is a commonplace among the professionals in the System to speak of recovery from mental illness. Recovery is real, but most professionals have never been clients themselves, and I'm often not sure they fully understand that, in recovery, you never return to the same place you were before, and you do not resume the same persona that you had before.
Whether or not I live in a dark world now, I certainly have been through one, and no one who has been through it can maintain a lot of capacity to lie to themselves. So maybe I do live in a dark world on endless negativity. I'd rather not, of course. But the key question is: Is it the real world or not? And, anyone who has been across the same threshold I have, knows that this question is not just an abstract exercise of intellect, but is a haunting possibility of relapse into waking nightmare, whose shadow never really leaves you, no matter how much you "recover".
The only way I know to examine this question is to look at the evidence. And the only standard I know is to evaluate the evidence with as finely developed a sense of fact as you can muster. When I look at Daily Kos, I do see that most who post there are trying to do this about the world in which we live. Their capacity to interpret the evidence varies, like everyone's, and the development of an adequate sense of fact is a lifelong endeavor. But I see no reason to doubt that they do the best they can to "reality test" by such standards.
Perhaps Good Will (with capital letters) is impossible in a world where you cannot ignore inconvenient facts, and you cannot lie to yourself about the conclusions inconvenient facts lead you to. In any event, my world, dark as it is, is my world, and I know that, in my world, lying to yourself about inconvenient facts is a swift passage back into nightmare. If feeding on negativity keeps me from nightmare, then I'll have mine sunny side up with bottled hot sauce.
I doubt I'm "enlightened", but I am, at least for now, "recovered", and I will do anything I can to stay that way.
But, when I think about it, I know that neither negativity nor inconvenient facts are a staple in everybody's diet. Perhaps they are not a staple in most people's diet. And offering them where they are not wanted does easily turn you into a crashing bore.
This is certainly not something one can accuse the people of on Daily Kos. They keep their negativity in their own house where all the guests are entertained by it. Maybe we should all do so. But I'm really not sure that is a good idea in a democracy. Or at least is isn't, if you really care about democracy.
But maybe I'll try it for a while. After all, I might be wrong.