Like opening and closing my eyes to reveal the chaotic scene of The Great Fire of Rome and Nero dancing and singing as the flames spread from the Circus through the narrow streets below.
Or maybe I’m tired and it’s later still, the middle 400s, Rome has no emperor. Only enemies. Enemies it has hired or enslaved, who now destroy the city in their cold revenge.
Are we on a precipice? Eternally compared to the greatest Empire the world has ever known. Twins unable to escape eachother’s orbit or trajectories.
You can almost hear the echoes of their voices off the marbled walls through time itself.
“Let’s make Rome great again.”
I’m out of practice, but today was one of the first days I didn’t know truth from fiction.
I’ve avoided news about as well as I can avoid rain drops. Bombardment by headlines. On the televisions at the gym. In 140 character streams. On screens as I pass. Snippets of radio commentary.
Today the country I love and call home is either overrun by Neo Nazis newly emboldened by a billionaire who failed to disavow them, or full of whiny cry babies who can’t handle that awful truth.
There is no middle ground, just this simple truth, as blared insessently from the ministry of information we call Facebook.
And then a post from a dear friend who is married and who has two wonderful dogs for kids. A beautiful home. Two cars. Two incomes.
Telling me I shouldn’t feel the way I feel. That I’m wallowing.
I said the word a few times to myself as I stared at the screen.
And I decided that I’m indeed wallowing. I’m wallowing down here below the chaos, trying to avoid being noticed. Trying to avoid being heard. Trying to avoid seeing and hearing.
I’m a lesser man for that.
As I looked out over the digital landscape where the discourse happens, I saw chaos.
And do you know what thrives in chaos?
Evil things thrive in chaos. Order scrutinizes everything. Order polices the edges and the middle.
But chaos is the preferred domain of the criminal and the banker alike. It is the diversion. The smoke. The mirrors.
Friends are organizing frantically. The next four years of their lives are set in stone.
Friends are celebrating ruthlessly. Extolling the virtues of a demagogue. Debating the veracity of the accusations about the racist nature of his top adviser.
Friends are wallowing. Occaissionally peeking out from where our heads are buried in the sand. Watching the clouds of chaos gather above us.
The sky is falling.
It’s been falling for a long time, but our myopia blinded us to it. And I told you so is on the throne.
This, my friends, is my overreaction. That I look out and see an America wherin my gay, black, Muslim, (just to name a few) friends are no longer just marganelized. They are further brutalized. Emblazoned. Marked. Gathered. Interned. Walled off.
Because we are not so far removed from an example to wonder if it can come true.
I don’t cover my head out of fear. I wallow out of despair. For the years gone by. For my children and their children. For the ones I love who have to suffer in the name of a Supreme Court nominee or taxes or greatness.