When Trump won the 2016 election, I was very surprised. But my surprise took a distinctly different direction initially….I was, of course, distinctly unimpressed by Trump, the pig, but I was stunned at what that perverted victory ACTUALLY said to me. It said, “The White House is NOT a sanctified place. It is NOT special. In fact, the White House is currently occupied by rich white trash and millions of vermin are cheering him on.”
Trump instantly and single-handedly put the ‘holy ground’ of the White House into the same real estate category as the lowest trailer park. Trump took all the magic out of the White House and showed it up as the Motel 6 it really was. The White House was a dump and so were the trashy people who occupied it. That revealing ugliness was quite a shock. It was a reality check.
Put more accurately and succinctly today, I now feel as if the ‘mythical’ White House is just an old building and a corrupt one at that. The pedestal has been removed. Perspective has been gained.
I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s (five years in California). The threat of nuclear war was taught to us weekly. We even had school drills on how to duck and cover under our desk (for an atomic bomb, no less). And, of course, Russia was, until 1989, the really BIG and SCARY bogeyman that embodied international evil. Let’s face it, they still kind of do. Or, better put: they did!
It turns out, Russia is NOT the ‘unstoppable force’ of evil I thought it was. It is just a country with an army, just a country with poor, young soldiers, just a medium sized tyranny run by a tiny weird man. It can and does, in fact, screw up on a large scale quite often – maybe just as bad or even worse than other dysfunctional countries. Russia is simply a neighbourhood bully is all.
Put more bluntly: except for their nuclear missiles, Russia is not really much of a threat to the West. Not even their next door neighbour. Russia is just a bigger North Korea. The curtain has been pulled back and the little wizard has been exposed. Perspective gained.
This ruination of mythical institutions can take many forms. Catholicism, for instance, has shown itself over time not just as a spiritual guide, a holy movement for good. It is often just a human, ugly, weak institution cloaked in false or covered-up history, fancy dress and ritual all at the same time. They have done evil. That is not a revelation, really. Most of us have rejected religion while still having a sense of a higher power or, as a friend of mine puts it, a omnipotent Universal Force. But the whole of a ‘bad’ church in such disgrace is a very dramatic and steep decline.
And, yet, we are watching a very slow and gradual exposure of all of our institutions – just like the Catholic church – as having feet of clay and hands where they shouldn’t have been.
Canada’s revered Health Care system is coming undone, too. It is now bloated and often ineffective. Our cops are showing up as taxpayer-funded gangs of thugs. Education is NOT working – not for the betterment of humanity, anyway, and few of the degree holders are living happily. Our politicians are increasingly, greedy, elitist and stupid. We are seeing the reduction of myths and fantasies into blunt, harsh realities of vulgarity, coarseness and ugliness. .
Conclusion: the facades of our cultural institutions (and those of other cultures, too) are falling away….
How did all that happen in barely one generation (well, during my generation, anyway)?
Observation: culture is formed more by mass communication than anything else. The priest speaks, the cop speaks, the teacher speaks, the doctor speaks, the news anchor speaks….and we used to listen and obey. Advertising, media, institutional propaganda and the like all once carried some kind of mythical status by communicating en masse one basically similar message. We believed their myths and, as Marshall McLuhan said so well, “The medium is the message.”
But the main disseminator of mis/information today is NOW the so-called ‘social media’. The public is drenched in social media – right, wrong or fantasy – we are saturated, immersed and engulfed in it. When I was younger and being brainwashed, I had to be home to hear ‘information’ on the 6:00 News. Or read a newspaper. Today, I can access tripe, crap, hate-speech, lies, propaganda, and occasionally some truth, in seconds anywhere and at anytime. Our information, misinformation and just-plain lies proliferates like the virus we also endure.
Is social media now just another false-front institution? Have we replaced old, fallible, human, rigid institutions with something MORE fallible, sub-human and disorganized? If so, that does not seem like a good trade-off.
And, like that now-familiar Covid virus, we do not know what is true and what is not anymore. That is perspective skewing at the very least.