Author’s note: this essay is an updated and expanded upon version of one published in May of this year.
There was a part of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, that is perhaps the most unsettling to me. The protagonist, Offred, is walking past the notorious Wall in the Republic of Gilead. This Wall, once part of a prestigious university in Cambridge Massachusetts, is now being used as a place of public execution, where corpses are left hanging for days to send a message of compliance and terror to the citizens of this authoritarian, theocratic state. Defy “God’s law” and you will suffer the punishment for doing so.
Indifference is an American-European story. As French chansonnier Serge Gainsbourg sang of his love for Brigitte Bardot: “What does the weather matter, what matters the wind? Better your absence than your indifference.” Or Gilbert Bécaud: “Indifference kills with small blows.” The indifference of one person to the other in a dwindling love affair is emblematic of the terrible impact of indifference in any field at all.
As the unending back-to-back scandals unfold, from the arrest and prosecution of courageous truth-tellers (aka whistleblowers), to the illegal wiretapping of all Americans, torture, indefinite detentions, the groping and handling of travelers, utilizing the IRS as the government’s hit-men and thugs … I am asked to provide statements, interpretations and/ or explanations as to what it is we are facing as a nation today. Some seek my opinion on what it is we are fighting against; on whom it is we are fighting against. Continue reading →