Guest Post By Julian Friedland
[Julian Friedland is a French-American philosopher, who, along with his research, likes to write on current issues in the popular press. He has written for such periodicals as the New York Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Denver Post, and the Humanist. He has also published this related piece recently in The Forward.]
After the Fall: It’s time to start rebuilding our culture by re-engaging in civic life
I’m seeing a lot of impotent rage out there from my beleaguered fellow democrats—not unlike the kind we were expecting from the other side had Hillary been the winner. How would we have acted toward the protests then? Dismissively I expect. And rightfully so. We would have called them spoiled children. We’d have said “the election is over, deal with it!” Indeed, this interim is not the moment for political action. That time was Super Tuesday, when 45 percent of the electorate decided to stay home.
Marching in the streets at this point will accomplish little beyond making us feel like we’re doing something. Perhaps it will give racial and gender minorities solace that we’ll try to protect them. But that’s cold comfort until they see us actually stepping in to do it if and when the time arrives—which we must all now be prepared to do. But that kind of courageous intervention is not a group-level political activity. It’s a personal civic one. Like picking up someone else’s litter. It won’t necessarily command much attention. But those kinds of activities are crucial now more than ever. And they must be engaged at every level if we are to restore this flailing culture. It won’t be accomplished by donning safety pins and marching with signs in a soothing show of support that sacrifices nothing.