Searching inside, I think I'm finding that the mundane politics have finally caught up with me. I've always been interested in the subject, but I've usually managed to keep some measure of emotional distance. I find that distance useful, even important -- I have no respect for fanatics, nor their methods. But it's starting to elude me.
It was driven home this morning. A friend in a nearby cubicle had posted up a (supposedly) signed picture of Mr. Bush, thanking him personally for being an early activist in the Bush campaign. My stomach dropped: I had a very real sense of not being able to talk to him any more, a loss of respect so profound it was instantly disturbing. As it turned out, the picture was far from the truth -- it was a come-on from the Republican campaign, attempting to recruit him, and led to a lunchtime discussion of the best way to dispose of the picture. But the disturbance remains: for the first time in my life, my dislike of "the other side" has become so visceral that I can't control it any more. I despise the feeling, but it has wormed its way so deep into my heart I can't see the end.
The war is far from the only cause, but it seems to be focusing it. I think I'm finally starting to understand how my parents' generation must have felt about Vietnam. My long-held patriotism is fouled with gnawing disappointment, even disgust that my country could misuse its power so horribly. There is no comfort in saying that I didn't vote for the madmen -- by its construction, this country is a collective responsibility, shared by all, the greatness and the horror.
And through it all, I find myself earwormed by Simon & Garfunkel, a refrain suddenly so poignant that it brings tears:
But it's all right; it's all right
You can't be forever blessed.
Still, tomorrow's gonna be another working day
And I'm trying to get some rest.
That all I'm trying -- to get some rest...