Populism Gone Mad
Roanoke, Virginia joined the long list of not-quite-urban places of populist conservatism targeted by Sarah Palin’s book tour this weekend. Everyone from the NYTimes to the Christian Science Monitor to the Wall Street Journal has warned against Palin’s folksy, anti-intellectual whining and the damage it’s doing to both a democratic system overrun by populism and a Republican party unsure how to lead with any vision for the future, but it's the people who follow her who infuriate me.
The Roanoke Times quotes a supporter in line as saying, "I think everyone in this line would say our values and her values are similar." As I walked out of the nearby Panera (an unfortunate choice for Sunday morning coffee), I overheard a cluster of people discussing their encounter with Palin: "She's just a REAL person." "That's exactly right, she's just a REAL person."
I grew up here. My family lives here. I can unleash a southern accent as thick as buttermilk on command. I know what you're trying to say. When you say "real," y'all, what you mean is "like me." When you say that this Sarah Palin is a real person who shares your values, what I hear is racism, and anti-intellectualism, and a deep-rooted and unacknowledged fear of the unknown. All of that is incredibly unbecoming on a people who I know to be devoted and faithful and courageous. Suck it up. Try something new. Test your faith out a little. You might find it stronger than you give it credit for.
The Internet, aka Boo Radley
In the same vein: technology is not a frightful beast. Information is not something to hoard and use as the currency of power. Blogs are fascinating ways to have a conversation without being in the same room. Facebook is what you make of it. People can and do create, discuss, debate and learn together online. Stop being afraid of the internet, Church. Your suspicions are based on ignorance, not on relationship, and like Harper Lee's Boo Radley, it might turn out that the thing you fear is the very thing that will solve some of your problems. Stop trying to control your brands and your information and let the Spirit move in the ways that she will. Don't get sloppy, don't give into the mediocrity that becomes so easy when everyone has access to everything; but don't run away and hide. Be creative! Use the tools available! And, for the love of all that is holy, figure out a way to allow me remote access to shared files without causing our poor I.T. guy to have a coronary.
In a different artery altogether: Is there any way to combat caffeine's turncoat nature? The level of focus achieved after just one cup is unparalleled and necessary (at this addicted point in life) to proper functioning, but the subsequent and unmitigated crash after the second cup - combined with the recent onset of incurable insomnia - makes consumption incredibly impractical. Shall I turn to tea? Can it ever compete?