Everybody's Got One
A blog. An opinion. An elimination orifice. A dream. An agenda. A past. A hidden talent. A conceptual filter. A cross. A charism (often the same). A task. A wound. A destiny. A lost love. A blind spot. A bad habit. A secret. A passion. A soul ... okay, maybe not everybody ...
Tuesday, February 11, 2003


There is a generation for whom Vietnam was the formative, defining experience, as the Depression was for an earlier one. And just as the generation now passing away was never able to feel completely safe, or financially secure, for whom privation was a constant if never-realized presence, so the Vietnamers (Gen-V?) are always suspicious of government (and all authority save their own), presume bad faith, and constantly expect to be lied to – by all institutions, but more surely and more pervasively the more powerful it is.

As before, the fundamental failing – the radical wound – is a lack of trust: not in the economy, or abundance, but in institutions. In the government, most especially. (Telford Work has a nice article on trust and its development or disabling – but of course he goes in another direction.) Skepticism of government is a good thing – particularly as mediating institutions wither away – but this is much more than skepticism: this is bred-in-the-bone suspicion, carefully nurtured, lovingly embraced. Willful suspicion. Sometimes, invincible suspicion. From Ruby Ridge militiamen vigilantly awaiting the black helicopters to those who reguarly identify signs of the incipient fascism that never actually arrives.

And, since this is an emotionally impoverished and unsustainable way to live, the bedrock of suspicion is overlaid by a naïve credulousness in other areas – whether in one's own party's leaders and motives, in supra- or extra-national organizations, in vague and costless spiritualities, in the clarity and logic of one's ideology, in the abolition of the business cycle, in the assumption that all interpersonal interactions are honest and pacific.

There is no known therapy that can fully heal this wound. Unfortunately, those who can never forget the past are condemned to misread the present. And to live in it poorly.

posted by Kelly | 3:15 PM link