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#270 :: Gyro Exerciser

November 5, 2004

The news media have been flinging around a facile, misleading and dangerous metaphor this week, as if it were a sort of truth: “red states” and “blue states.”

In truth, the majority of the states tagged that way were more purple than red or blue – with people of vastly differing political positions living alongside each other in, but for some exceptions, harmony. But now a buzzphrase has polarized us all artificially, carved up the map into a cartoon war plan that brooks no interpretation, and bears no real truth. It’s a quick visual shorthand for lazy editors who got bored with the more accurate phrases “conservative” or “liberal” – each of which has a thousand variations that don’t translate easily to 48-point type or NTSC subtitles or HTML.

This red-vs-blue myth’s daily repetition in every medium makes it easier for Texas to hate California, Oregon to scorn Florida, New Hampshire to loathe Louisiana when – in fact – we’re still a single nation of powerfully opinionated individuals spread across the map, some of whom disagree strongly with each other, but most of whom still love this country and the ideals of freedom, tolerance, and diversity that give us strength.

We wrestle now, armed with this false image that empowers us to draw battle lines, declare our position in cultural-political warfare based on media-manufactured color boundaries that just do not exist.

You can get on U.S. Interstate 10 in Los Angeles, and cruise eastward for miles across America’s southern half. The land changes colors from the Painted Desert through the Texas panhandle and the lush green deep south, and the people from black, white and brown to brown, black and white with a million variations in between. But there’s no red or blue. You’ll perceive no sharp change in the political atmosphere at any known point.

You can get off the road and get into a friendly bull session or an ugly bar fight with anyone you care to, depending on how you discuss politics. But you’re not enemies, you’re just fellow Americans who’ve made up their mind to either hate and attack the other guy for his position, or simply agree to disagree.

Listen: this country does not have to barge headlong into open, agressive, state-by-state cultural warfare. I don’t care which side you’re on, we’re all too noble and smart to let the news media push us into it for the sake of easy categorization. Don’t buy it. As polarized as we’ve become, we all still believe in the Constitution, and in the country and the rights of all Americans.

I hate politics. I despise the science of lies and divisiveness and persuasion by misinformation and intimidation that people engage in to acquire power. I’m angry that it’s got me arguing (see the “root” post) with people who have been longtime visitors, and even friendly fans, but suddenly turned on me because I posted something provocative with which they disagreed.

I’m gonna try to get back (in this blog, though not my other, to the gentle pursuit with which it began – after this post, and god knows how many more answers to political comments that demand answers. But I don’t like what I’ve let happen here. I started this with a simple sense of delight. I aim to continue that way tomorrow.

Last notes, now: I found this thing at a school rummage sale this morning, and it spoke to the thoughts above: You rev up the gyro in the ball’s center by rotating your wrist until the thing spins at thousands of RPMs, bucking and twisting in your hand with ferocious torque, as if the red and blue halves are battling for control of its momentum. At high speed, it whines as though it could fly apart at any second, but something about its design, the integration of its halves, the power whirring at its heart, holds it together, binding it into one dynamic, human-driven machine.

And using it makes you stronger.

Filed under: Tool | Comments (1)

1 Comment

  1. xoxoxo Bruce November 8, 2004 @ 4:42 am

    Yeah Man, don’t let them drag you down into their muck.