Swimsuits and Politics

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We inhabit our politics the way we inhabit our swim suits.

Is it comfortable? Is it attractive? Does it fit the the image we want to signal? Is it too tight? Is it too loose? Is it revealing too much of ourselves? Will we get burned?

As we age those measures and tastes change. Utopian day dreams give way to practical needs. Or they should – because the alternative is always unsightly. The signal we send begins to betray something different from what we believe it is displaying – something that grows in its lack of dignity the longer it’s worn, something arrested and sclerotic, something too obviously vain.

Success brings anxiety. Failure brings anger. Affluence brings guilt. Poverty brings blame. All of it feeling like the shove of ghosts, pushing us towards a time and place where everything seemed simpler, and answers were served up in neatly packaged, black and white lesson plans.

Some people lean into that push. Some brace themselves against the shove, resist the entropy, and refuse to be tossed  down the path most traveled. The one that offers emphatic answers with little thought, and immovable conclusions with little evidence.

It’s true that the ammunition that is ready at hand, for anyone that is happy to accept any particular ideology, right or left, religious or political, absent the internal struggles and conflicts that come from independent thought – is numerous, convenient, and requires little skill to wield – but it is also true that ammunition is never really yours. We can trade in cliches, but we cannot avoid the consequences of those transactions in previously heard thinking – a mind less nimble, less alive, and less interesting. The decay of boredom.

A swimsuit not yours.