Don’t people realized that nostalgia is based on pain? I’m seeing so much on the selling of nostalgia and that is selling pain. You want some more pain? Here you go, a whole big dose. Even if you don’t know that the word is originally Greek combining home and pain. The home is sweet but the pain is not being able to get their. While this evolved in modern times in German as ‘homesickness’ that suggested a temporary thing. In more modern English this has become the pain of permanent separation. We all know that you can’t go home again in America. We’ve known that for the whole twentieth century because we started leaving and never going back and then not being able to go back. Because it is gone.
America didn’t use to be about pain. It was about hard work and fighting for the right things but it didn’t worship pain as a goal. You may need to get through some pain to get things that really mattered but that’s not pain as the thing you want. Happiness and satisfaction are what life is about. I think a significant part of America has lost those goals and even the hope of satisfaction, let alone happiness. But not everyone and not even a very large percentage but enough to have seriously complicated the declining years of the American experiment in hope for all.
We knew it was going to happen just as we know when we left home that we would never be able to really go back except for glimpses through the lense of change. Then years later we go back and look around for something that we remember and, not only is it gone, but what is left is so different and, often, shoddy that we can’t even be sure where it was exactly. And that is warp factor nostalgic pain. That specific type of pain is what has caused small town, wherever they actually live, America to split into the brutal masochism of the Trump age and the very different world of 21st century transformational metropolitan societies. These are rapidly diverging worlds and the first is doomed. That is a gap that is already a chasm and can’t be bridged. To move from the first to the second requires the abandonment of nostalgia except as a theme for gentle reinterpretation.
Could this have been prevented? Not really but it has been made much worse by the quick action of people who saw the opportunity to make pain the centerpiece of America in decline. People dedicated to that nostalgic pain are already addicted requiring ever higher doses that are supplied by failure to return to the mythical home. And that is just fine for those feeding that pain and gaining from it. America can never be great again in a world where that greatness is gone so there is no need to deliver anything. The failure to deliver the unreachable past is the very thing that has been promised. The more they fail to get, the more they want.
The rapidly evolving digitally defined world of the metropolitan populations is burdened but not limited by the minority’s quest for nostalgic pain. That burden is concern and frustration at the self destructiveness of a portion of the population. The endless cycle of pain is completely ununderstandable to the majority looking to the exploding potential that is the reality for the globally focused, educated populations. The great challenge is the carbon disaster that must be reduced and then eliminated before the suffering becomes too large to manage. This is the first truly planetary challenge that will require great action at a scale of collaboration never before accomplished except in times of great war. For the forward looking population this is the best of times and the most fearful but the conquest of the challenge will produce a world of wonder for our children and grandchildren.
So this is the greatest source of conflict as the nostalgically addicted cannot recognize the climate reality because the world they miss created that disaster. While that disaster is the greatest error in modern history for those of us that see what is happening, for the nostalgically addicted minority that cannot be. The recognition of the climate disaster is the full acceptance of the failure of their nostalgic object. Not only is it in the unreachable past but it must never be repeated. It fondest memories are what we now must hate. The only possible reaction is outrage, denial, and anger.
Sadly, we cannot be caught in the misery of the nostalgically addicted. The people, represented by Trump, Bannon, and the increasingly irrational who are manipulating a significant portion of our population for destruction that will bring them wealth and power. That power is the terrible addiction that drives them to any end for their own gain. We need to ignore and isolate these people and we are gaining the tools to replace their economy and social structure with the new world of micro-democracy, cryptocurrency, cherished diversity. That is exactly what they hate and fear because it is the opposite of their pain. This is the contradiction that lies at the heart of our national and increasingly planetary dilemma. We cannot allow the minority’s rejection of the future for a past that may, yet, be our destruction. Firm action is required to prevent disaster.