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Denial, Delusion, or Dreaming: Which Describes You Best?
For the last several years, people on Ricochet have ranted about the corruption of government, and how little has changed. Now we see many people who continue to propose steps that the government must take to hold despicable members of the administration accountable, despite the overwhelming evidence that nothing will happen.
I’ve said in the past that I am a cock-eyed optimist, and I have been one of those people who has proposed solutions to the current ugly state of affairs. Lately, I’ve also stated that I have mostly given up hope for things to improve. So, here’s my question: why do people continue to hope when it seems that all may be lost? A clue is in the word “may.”
I’ve diagnosed the disease that seems to be running rampant through the conservatives and Republicans (however you wish to identify), and I’ll share them with you here in no particular order:
There are those in denial. These are the folks who refuse to see things just as they are. It’s all good, things will be fine, we are still a democratic Republic, it’s not as bad as it looks. They refuse to acknowledge the facts, just as the Democrats refuse to recognize the truth when it hits them in the head. Denial can be a difficult condition to maintain, particularly when you live among those people who prefer reality to denial. But at least you don’t need to see the ugly truth.
Then there are those who are deluded. These folks are determined to create their own reality and focus on the few things that are working: Kevin McCarthy rounded up Republicans to fight for a lifting of the debt ceiling if expenditures are held in check. Investigations of all kinds are proceeding in order to demand accountability from Joe Biden and his administration. Whistleblowers are speaking out, even in a public forum, against the travesties of our intelligence community. And very little will change.
And finally, there are the dreamers. These are the folks who remember the good ol’ days and the way government used to be (or at least it seemed to be). They recommend solutions that will never happen. They demand that people be held accountable when no one else is interested in accountability. Of all three ailments, this is probably the most difficult to maintain on a site like Ricochet, unless you are a lurker and have nothing to say.
You might say that people are entitled to believe and say whatever they wish when discussing politics, and I agree. Except for one thing: it doesn’t motivate the person to deal with life as it is, which means any of these illnesses will discourage, if not prevent, people from dealing with the facts on the ground. Maybe that situation is good for all of us: maybe we should insulate ourselves from the impossible situation we’ve found ourselves in. It is a survival mentality, helps us get through the disillusionment that sits at our doorstep and threatens to overwhelm us.
Do I have a solution for this dilemma? I don’t. I finally realized, however, that Conservatives are effectively faced with having to go through grief and loss: who are we? What have we become? How do we move on? Most people hate to grieve; it is such a difficult journey to take. But I do know that denial of the truth, delusion about the facts and dreaming of an unlikely future will get us nowhere. I also know that creative solutions can only arise when we allow ourselves to move through grief, strengthen our resolve, and look at our current situation with honesty and clarity.
Otherwise, in one way or another, we will lose.Published in Domestic Policy
I’m just a little, old alchemist sitting on the sidelines and watching. I’m not in denial. I’m not deluded. I’m not dreaming. I do try to bring smiles to faces now and then. Sometimes I might also help shift perspectives. It is not nearly as important what happens in life, as what we learn from it and how we react to it.
Whenever I point out there is no solution and there is no hope, I get castigated.
Not sure where I fall in this.
This is where it gets tricky. We don’t know if there are solutions, but the old methods are useless. I prefer to maintain hope, but I’m no pollyanna, either. I don’t think it’s impossible to be realistic and hopeful.
It sounds like what Buddhists call “non-attachment,” Arahant. You haven’t removed yourself and you’re not overly invested in the current situation. That works–when we can achieve it (or are naturally inclined to it).
There’s no good way to do that in this world of ours.
I think it’s also worth pointing out that it’s possible to get stuck in our grief and find it nearly impossible to work our way out. You know this from your work.
I want to be hopeful.
I also don’t see a way out other than sectarian civil war. That or societal collapse. I think the latter is less likely because I think the factors forcing the rest of the world to collapse will get them before we do.
It is hard sometimes. I do it because the alternative is too difficult to contemplate, because I need to have hope to work through the day, and because while it is attenuated I believe in a loving and compassionate G_d. I don’t think we are at the committees of correspondence phase yet, although I admit it looks bleak. Also there are causes for optimism.
I don’t know which this makes me from you list maybe a bit of all three. In the end I think that despair over politics doesn’t really help. I feel it from time to time, but I am trying to maintain a sense of hope.
I am not stuck. I go about my day and do my things and discharge my responsibilities and have joy.
Grief, however, does not go away. It is always there. At times, it grabs a hold. I grieve for the loss of America. I grieve for the loss of free speech, of tolerance, of a military that cares about fighting and not making men into women while lowering standards to meet quotas.
It is not with me every day, at every moment, but it does catch me at times. And sometimes I vent that here. Usually, not to understanding, but to people telling me to being dismissed. Maybe they are in denial. I’ll say this, they sure are not honest like you that they don’t know what to do.
I expect America to still be here in 50 years as the world collapses around us. You say despair over politics does not really help. Please explain to me how a sense of hope makes any difference at all in outcomes.
Thanks for your candor. I have no way of knowing if you’re stuck, but I’m glad to know that your life has joy, too! I hope I’ve never dismissed your feelings. It can be hard to listen to those who lament where we are. Our challenge is to find balance, somehow, and appreciate all that life has to offer.
This is a very thoughtful comment, Raxxalan. The categories were simply a means for reflection, and clearly you’ve given the subject some thought. I, too, work to maintain that sense of hope.
I believe that hope keeps the door open to possibility. Possibility is ever-present. If we are overcome with despair without hope, we often shut off the spigot and close the door. Then there is no hope.
My point is “Keep up hope” is not a prescription for action. I want a prescription for action. If I am in denial, it feel that I am in denial that the prescription for action is to be buying as much ammo as I can and finding a place to hold up outside a major metro area.
For me It gives me the capability of acting even if it is only trying to convince a few people I know at work or socially to investigate new media, or think about things differently. If I have, or dwell on despair then I find it very difficult to function. As I said I need hope to keep moving forward for me personally. The outcome that I am looking for is personal. If I have despair I personally am not going to be in a position to do anything. Can my personal actions change outcomes, probably not, but it is like the lottery it won’t work if you don’t try.
Action is critical, but it’s hard to act when we are in despair. Hope plants seed for action.
I should have pointed Bryan to your answer! We are saying the same thing!
I don’t act not because of despair but because I don’t know what to do. You don’t either. No one at Ricochet seems too.
The only person in power who seems to be doing anything to fight back is Elon Musk. Believe me, if I had those sorts of resources I’d be fighting back too.
It took a lot of people being murdered for NYC to elect a Republican. And the City was cleaned up.
But 12 years after Guliani left office New Yorkers elected Bill DeBlasio. That Commie made NYC even worse than it was under Dinkins. Adams doesn’t seem like much of an improvement so far.
And the entire state of NY seems to have gone full left-wing crazy. In the long-term, nothing changed.
And in fact, it could change again. We just never know.
This all reminds me of a favorite Zen Koan: “Not knowing is the most intimate.” When we can embrace our lives just as they are and stay open to possibility, our lives are most full.
Of course, that’s the challenge!
It might, but I don’t see how.
In fairness, I haven’t set foot in NYC for over 15 years. This after working nearly 20 years in Manhattan and living just across the Bronx-Westchester border. But I see criminals being allowed to walk free, Orthodox Jews being harassed and attacked, and Al Sharpton being lauded by the Democrats and having a show on MSNBC. It’s getting worse than it ever was as far as I can tell. I want to have hope, but I’m really leaning towards Bryan’s position.
Adam Smith wrote, “There’s a great deal of ruin in a nation.” But there is a limit from which it’s impossible to recover.
I can’t speak for any other Ricochetti; only myself. Here’s my plan:
Well, have you given up hope, or not?
I don’t see any purpose in having the word “essentially” in this first sentence. If by adding “essentially” you mean that you haven’t given up all hope, but don’t have much, then you haven’t given up all hope. If you haven’t given up all hope, then the rest of the post doesn’t make sense to me, as it seems to be claiming that the three reasons that fools have not given up hope are denial, delusion, and dreaming.
Maybe I’m not understanding your point, Susan.
Maybe you’re just using exaggeration as a rhetorical technique, trying to get people to realize how bad things are. I do think that things are pretty bad in our country, in many ways, though I haven’t experienced any significant breakdowns in my own life. Not even with Covid, which was a minor inconvenience at most. My neighborhood is safe, the stores are full, I can go about my business in my hometown without encountering any serious problems.
I think that the people who give in to despair are often demonstrably wrong. I’ve seen multiple posts and comments, right here at Ricochet, claiming that the 2020 election proves that Republicans can never win again. As Raxxalan pointed out in #8, Republicans did win the House elections in 2022. But the folks claiming that elections are so rigged that we’re going to lose forever are impervious to such evidence. (This is just one example.)
My faith prevents me from giving in to despair. Put simply, God is sovereign, and He will see that everything works out in the end. He may bless our country, or may punish us for our many transgressions. I don’t presume to give him advice about this anymore.
What a beautiful and courageous statement–from a man who’s faced real danger. All are admirable and valuable points to pursue. I love what you said about relationships, too. We know all the neighbors on our street, and the ones on either side especially well. It definitely gives us a sense of security and peace. Thanks, PH.
Thanks for the critique. I’m changing essentially to “mostly.” Much more accurate.
Oh I’m a dreamer, but I think my plans could be implemented without philosopher-kings.
Indeed you could! I have no doubt.
They had 12 good years. Unfortunate entropy is part of the universe. If you aren’t actively trying to make things better they will get worse. None of our political battles is ever won permanently. We forget that as Republicans and the people of New York forgot that as well. They forgot that it doesn’t take much for crime to come back, but also there was no one competent trying to convince them otherwise either. Also if you looked at the country in the 30s or 70s you would have pretty dark thoughts about the countries’ future, but things were turned around then. They can turn around again. It takes work, effort, and vision. Also the left has been fighting to get to this place for 50 years. It isn’t hard to see that it is going to take us on the right a little time to fight back.
Fair take, @raxxalan. To me, right now feels like a return to the ’70s in most ways, but without the good music. But again, look at what it took for the country to recover from both of those decades. It literally took a world war to pull us out of the Depression. In the ’70s it took a prime rate of over 20%, the humiliation of the Iran Hostage Crisis, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan of us to give “Jimmah” the boot.
What will it take to recapture the institutions? The schools, the military, the media (not that we ever had the media, but you know what I mean), etc.?
To repeat my earlier comment, there’s a great deal of ruin in a nation. But we are fast approaching the limit, if we’re not already past it.