Monday, September 26, 2016 1:47 PM
Desperation is like panic—always a bad idea, in spite of our being tempted by both on a daily basis. I always try to resist them—I consider desperation a dangerous mistake, more dangerous in the end than the thing I became desperate over. Some people seem to want to go there—to give themselves permission to make a choice, whether good or bad—like an itch that needs to be scratched.
We live very inhibited lives—signs are posted, regulations must be obeyed, dress-codes must be observed. Desperation is a holiday from that reality—that is why there is something of hilarity about people in an emergency—no matter how bad it is, it is still a break from the ceaseless rule-following. This is only natural—we are, after all, animals with clothes on.
Doom-sayers, conspiracy-theorists, and provocateurs attempt to create emergency conditions in the midst of normalcy—that’s why we both despise and are fascinated by them. They offer the ‘holiday’ of a world turned upside-down. Their followers are their cheerleaders—they like their thinking, and realize that they only need to propagate the message, to popularize and legitimize it to the point where it becomes an emergency.
We want excitement—we crave it. But if we want our complex, but very comfortable lives to continue, we have to learn to compartmentalize our thrill-seeking from our judgment. An election is a popularity contest—yes—but it is also a judgment call. We are handing over our most prized possession—we want to award it to the most impressive person. We are also handing over a fragile, delicate clock-work—we want to entrust it to the most steady-handed and clear-eyed craftsperson.