We had an election last night. Every four years, Americans commit regicide with slow-drip character assassinations and months-long misinformation. This election was more of the same: just a peaceful, systematic revolution. It’s a kind of release valve for budding anger resulting not in the guillotine but in awkwardly forced concession speeches. When I think about it, it shocks me just how peaceful it is: the vox populi speaks and off goes political careers — not heads.
In spite of this, I suppose it’s a good sign that we still think elections are nasty, terrible business. All these maladroit ads blur together into white noise lulling eye-rolling ad nauseum, while the litany repeated by angry white bulbous men is that THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION OF YOUR EXISTENCE; FaceTwitter goes awry with spiteful comments at large swaths of countrymen; hours-long dismissive missives about gaffe-prone candidates and foots-in-mouth while the ticker reads: HOW WILL X VOTE?; followed by more hours of handshake analysis and body posture analysis and polls and polls of polls and models of polls of polls and who fucked who and so on and so forth — “by gorry by jingo by gee by gosh by gum“.
And so, unsurprisingly, there are calls for peace and goodwill among men midst all of this (even though as of 6:07 AM, MSNBC projected baskets will remain headless). Stop it, these peace-callers scream, stop it. Stop the name calling. Stop the predictions of Armageddon. We should hold all of the candidates in our prayers because we’re Americans and God loves America, after all. Can’t we all just wish everyone well? CAN’T WE JUST LIVE IN PEACE?
Years ago, I would have been one of this peace-callers, but no more. “Keeping the peace” is usually the job of the abused person in a relationship. “Keeping the peace” enables abuse. Don’t upset the alcoholic. Don’t poke the bear. They’re kind of like Dostoevsky’s Aloysha who prays, “Lord, these people are fucking crazy –” this is my paraphrase, mind you “– but give them what they want. Just make them happy.” I’ve prayed that prayer, myself, and it led to trauma. Most of the time, praying for peace means keeping your mouth shut.
No, I don’t wish peace on anyone anymore. I wish discomfort and long tired nights of hard questions, of general angst and displeasure, of feeling terrible rather than feeling nothing. I wish you troubled times where injustice is drowning under mighty mountain waters. You should lose sleep over existence. Entertainment shouldn’t silence that voice on the edge of your consciousness whispering all those awful soul-crushing questions: what is the nature of life?, why am I here?, and why do I not not exist? Or, as Fran Lebowitz put it: if you’re not waking up angry, you’re not alive.
And the noise will go on and on and on and on and on and on, numbing us to sleep.