“We are polarized! Look around you. The reminders are everywhere.”
As soon as the writer wrote those lines he considered what it meant. Not the loudest pundit’s interpretation or glib characterizations running roughshod over social media or even sober academic analysis slipping out of its hermetically sealed vacuum. It meant something more base, essential, to the world taking shape around him. Everything was a battle. A zero sum game of power chased to the limits of reason only to affirm a deep held conception of order. It was a reality beamed into homes and reinforced through repetition, It made people deny what was in front of their faces, or made plain sense, in favor of arcane and archaic attitudes.
“We’ve reached the first of many existential forks in the road, where the divergent paths lead to very different outcomes, and we can never go back. The genie doesn’t go back into the bottle when our wishes are granted.”
He imagined how these words, benign in themselves, and invested with power on both sides of the current divide within the right context, and told by the right person could fuel the flames of division. He found it curious how the same words could do that. They just sounded right to him. The cadence spoke to him more than the meaning, but meaning was inescapable. How he framed the speaker and the listener to the words he’d written would make all the difference in the world. He wasn’t even sure where any of it was going or why he chose that particular theme when he thought…
“There are places we can go with fifty flavors of ice cream and you can’t go wrong with whichever one you choose, because at their core it’s all heavy cream and ample sugar. I prefer mint chocolate chip almost all the time, but sometimes I’ll choose strawberry or a whimsical mixture, say of pretzel and caramel or coffee and peanut butter.”
He had planned to write about the election and the importance of voting. He wanted to convey, however possible, that this year was more important than any other. He wanted to riff on the idea that election denial and wanton stupidity was only an excuse for overt belligerence. He wanted to perfectly describe how division had become tinged with blind hatred. He wanted to do all of that, but the election was a day away, and he was already exhausted with all of the talk of politics and balkanization and division, and didn’t think whatever he would have said would make a modicum of difference. He just wanted to get past tomorrow and the next day with sanity and democracy still in tact so he could get back to focusing on something else. He wanted to write about human truths and emotions instead of the preface of a future history book for a world he hoped would still read them.
“I’ll have a scoop of vanilla and hope for the best.”