Have yourself a merry little

Waukesha is about 100 miles away from us up here: a place that people mark as your quintessential American small city — although for those who still associate it with “Happy Days,” it was never quite that, either. It’s not the kind of place that makes the national, let alone the internal, news. Most of Wisconsin likes it that way and the number of times we’ve been part of broader news coverage in the last year is truly disturbing to a lot of people. “We” prefer to be quiet and get on with things.

By which I mean that we prefer not to sit in our cars and cry when the radio gives us the latest count of casualties in the children’s hospital ICU.

The editorial pages are full of anger, the air thick with it, the conversations in the lines at the coffee shop and the movies and the grocery store bristle with outrage. Wisconsin needs a death penalty. Lock him up and throw away the key. Everyone speaking and everyone silent knows precisely how four dancing grannies, a bank teller about my age, and an eight-year-old spectator could still be alive.  We need real legal penalties. We need a functioning bail system. We need better mental health care. We need better schools, better families, a better president, a better governor. The apocalypse is coming. Marana tha.

Outrage is easy but answers are hard. We have always already rejected every solution.

Our prisons are old and decaying and jammed full and nowadays, coursing with COVID-19. With no political will to renovate or build new, we literally can’t pay people enough to staff the facilities we have. Not only can’t we pay people enough to work in the mental health area, between the people who fear the mental health system as a locus of false imprisonment and those who see it as a shield for every sort of lying malefactor, its future is not hopeful. We want to be tough on crime and we don’t want to hire more judges or court clerks or public defenders. We want dangerous offenders to be kept off the streets and we are increasingly critical of the cash bail system. We want inner city families to be strong without jobs or public transportation to take people to them or housing protections and we want people to reject certain categories of addictive substances on force of will alone even as the rest of the state drinks itself–legally–into oblivion.

I don’t know the solution either. I do know that ideology predicts the crime and the outcome and ideology also feeds the outrage that keeps us predicting the crime and the outcome.

It seems to me, though, that what we can’t look in the face is the increasingly destructive fantasy of individual well-being as potentially separated from the whole. It’s easier to look away from everything that’s wrong on the margins of the picture than to acknowledge that while a large group of people is happily cheering the approach of the holidays and dancing in the street, a man with a history of domestic violence can leave the scene of a disturbance and destroy not just lives, but our convictions that we deserve a certain kind of life untouched by destruction, whatever the cause of it.

It’s the increasing apparent lesson of the last two decades at least. As long as one of us is not okay, all of us live at risk. There is no “we,” only we.

~ by Servetus on November 24, 2021.

11 Responses to “Have yourself a merry little”

  1. I didn’t realize Waukesha was relatively close to where you live. Such a tragedy! If only the outrage could lead to concrete reform action…


    • Closer both physically and culturally / demographically than Kenosha. (Fifty miles closer physically, but a lot closer in terms of population, attitudes, etc.)

      This is one of the cases where the amount of things that would have to change would be so large as to defy possibility. I really don’t know even where we would start (which is, of course, why editorialists keep proposing easy solutions).

      Liked by 2 people

  2. The first time I wrote here, it was after the attack on Charlie Hebdo: a terrorist massacre at the headquarters of the satirical newspaper on 7 January 2015.
    We are still writing about “all of us living at risk”, sure Serv!

    Liked by 2 people

    • “whatever the cause of it”!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, I wasn’t claiming that this was anything new. I was more responding to a series of assertions and prescriptions made in the local press, which were directed at “how to deal with those people”. In the famous words of Pogo: “we have met the enemy and they are us.”

        Liked by 1 person

  3. […] Have yourself a merry little A l’article de Servetus, je renvoie 2 articles de Corinne Morel Darleux , parus dans Reporterre ( le quotidien de l’écologie), le 14 mai 2020 et le 24 septembre 2021. https://reporterre.net/Comment-vivre-dans-un-monde-qui-semble-irreel https://reporterre.net/Comment-vivre-dans-un-monde-qui-semble-irreel https://reporterre.net/Comment-vivre-dans-un-monde-qui-semble-irreel https://reporterre.net/Au-temps-du-coronavirus-ou-est-la-frontiere-entre-fiction-et-realite Categories: Interrogation sur un thème […]


  4. Voici une rapide réponse à votre article.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We rather than I is the only hope.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I used to give one of the final lectures in modern world civ on “failures of the nation state in the face of globalization” and I talked about things like the environment, pandemic disease (even then, wow), terrorism, intellectual property, etc. But it’s increasingly obvious we’re failing at home. “We vs they” thinking (racism, class issues) are the root causes of events like the one I’m mourning, and yet “we vs they” seems to be the solution that most people come up with — imo perpetuating the very problems they are complaining about.

      Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: