Monday, September 04, 2006

"Liberty & Justice", Part III: A Prologue

It's Personal

I was wondering yesterday, Bush, as I sat out in the sunshine on the balcony with my Sunday cigar, what I might choose for a title for my talk in Springfield, Missouri later this week--or at least a subtitle for the somewhat unwieldy "Liberty & Justice in the Post 9/11 World." I decided that my own title would be: "IT'S PERSONAL."

Because that's what I believe it to be. This daily journal that I write is personal. I started to write it, if you recall, just a couple of days after the presidential election in November, 2004. Good Democrats, Ellie and I had worked hard for the campaign of your opponent, John Kerry. He seemed to us to be articulate, thoughtful, capable, respectful of others and their positions, and to have showed great personal courage not only in his service to the country in Vietnam but also in the public stand he took afterwards, opposing the loss of life in that other tragic, unnecessary, and mistaken war.

That was before your people trashed him. It wasn't only the Swift Boat issue; they succeeded in trashing his image as a politician of integrity, too.

Not that we didn't believe in him during and after that shameful trashing, but that's what did him in as a candidate. On our own somewhat modest scale, we had managed to raise a good deal of money for his campaign. In fact, we could hardly imagine he might lose, after that confidence-shattering first term of your presidency with the disaster of the Iraq war abroad equaled only by the threatened demise of responsible government at home, and our hearts were set on the election of a Democratic successor for the next four years.

Alas, that was not how things turned out. Like many other Americans--pretty much fifty percent of us at the time--I was devastated by the result and sat around deploring the ignorance of the electorate for a couple of disillusioned days before realizing that I had to do something. I had to do something! And the only thing I really know how to do is write.

At which time, fortuitously, without planning or forethought, I stumbled headfirst into the blogosphere.

What a revelation! The chance to write and publish something every day! And to grow a readership! This was something better than I could have possibly imagined. A writer's dream come true...

As I began to write and publish these entries in The Bush Diaries, beginning November 8, 2004, I realized more and more clearly what my blog was about. I understood, of course, Bush, that it was not about communicating with your good self. Your reputation for not reading was well known (though now we know, of course, through well-designed publicity, that you have read sixty books so far this year--maybe seventy-five by now--including three Shakespeare plays and "The Stranger" by Albert Camus! A good World Lit 101 reading list!) Nor was the blog anything to do with "history" or "journalism". It wasn't even particularly about politics.

Look, I'm not a journalist. I'm not an investigative reporter. I'm especially not a political pundit. I'm a writer. And writing is what I do when I want to find out what's going on inside my head. The Bush Diaries, I always understood, was a way of talking to myself, and it followed my basic tenet, that old writer's chestnut: How do I know what I think 'til I see what I say.

So this blog, I soon realized, was about myself. It was my own way of staying awake, of staying conscious in a situation where the temptation was to close my eyes and hope that the nightmare would soon be over. The act of staying conscious can be nothing but an insistently personal effort. It requires that I be scrupulously honest with myself. It requires that I remain vigilant in my attention. It requires that I not goof off every time I feel like nodding into blissful oblivion. I requires the maintenance of a practice.

So that was how it started. If we were all fully conscious at this level, I fully believed, the world would be a better place. And if I set out to work diligently on my own consciousness, I hoped, I might engage the consciousness of a few others. And through them, eventually, a few more... And if I failed in that, I had no one in the world to blame except myself.


Fred said...

Great entry, Peter. It does have to be personal. We have to make it so, one mind at a time, if the world consciousness is to change.
Thanks for reminding me this morning. Good luck in Springfield.
(I have two g'daughters in college there).

PK said...

You only fail if you don't try. I'm sure there are people who read you, but for one reason or another, don't comment. There are plenty of places I go to that I don't comment at. I enjoy what they write, but the people who comment aren't those who would write, or even think of E-mailing, the Senate and Congress, all they want to do is complain. There is no real interaction. I notice the people who comment, here on your words, are insightful, and able to carry on an intelligent conversation. You have somehow gone passed the angry words, and gone on to intelligent, rational thinking, and writing. You are a refreshing air out here in the anger and blame game of the Net. You haven't failed my friend:). A very good entry, keep making it personal... we hear you and listen.

PeterAtLarge said...

Thank you, Fred, thank you, PK. I'm always thrilled to hear from you. I'll take your good wishes with me to Missouri! Cheers, PaL