The commentators are saying our wounds are self-inflicted. It's a logical explanation for why the current government shutdown continues to confuse, anger, and depress anyone outside of Congress. The metaphor begs the question: what motivates self-harm?
Countries can best be understood by considering the behavior of people. After all, national character explains quite a bit about why Russians differ from Japanese, or how Americans are perceived world-wide as opposed to Syrians. The Brits the French and the Italians all have character traits that distinguish themselves from one another.
Thus, it follows that people who self-inflict pain for various reasons, might go a long way to explain why countries do it. Are we angry, guilty, or in need of attention? Is that why the U.S. Congress refuses to budge? Are they all right fighters who will not blink and simply lock themselves into an unmovable position? No doubt some are. But is there a picture of this nation that is emerging that could offer an explanation? How about this: Democracy, as we thought we know it, does not exist.
Add to that the continual misinterpretation of the U.S. Constitution and you have the beginning piece of a puzzle that may never get solved.
Another chunk concerns information. What passes for objective information about everything from school reform to health care is disseminated on multiple outlets each with their own agenda. How can we possibly solve any of these problems when we do not use the same set of facts.
Sometimes I listen to a radio station or watch a TV station that I would never choose to select. It's painful, but enlightening. The things some folks believe. Everything from loss of jobs to full-blown Socialism if we dare offer healthcare to those most vulnerable, those most in need.
It's even become our entertainment. A popular TV host sent a camera crew to the heart of a large city and asked people on the street if they supported Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act. Most took the latter never knowing they were one and the same. They seemed so convincing in their reasons too.
We have every right to be embarrassed.
Back to vanishing democracy. It occurred to me today while driving a long stretch of highway and listening to the news that the current malaise in Washington D.C. is very similar to the attack of public education. Both threaten democracy, both are disruptive to the extent that they will no doubt make enemies for life, and both involve an unequal distribution of wealth.
We used to pride ourselves on our strong sense of confidence. It's difficult to like your self and feel good about what you are doing when you continue to inflict wounds on yourself and don't know why.