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Preserving the dignity of the oval office. I just wanted to type those words because I found them to be so darkly humorous. N0t to be indelicate here, but I think that ship done sailed long ago, if it ever existed at all. Somewhere in the midst of John F Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe, in the confusion of cigars and blue dresses, I got the distinct impression that the foibles of the rich and famous were well-known to us all.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered the feigned outrage,the indignation, the shock and offense coming from people “who have never heard such crass and vulgar language in my entire life.” Seriously? Because I read your facebook feed everyday……

So how is this possible, how can it be that somewhere among the incessant assault of movies, television, and mass media, no one ever noticed how crass and vulgar our culture is becoming, how we sold our dignity out on the Jerry Springer show so long ago?

I keep thinking of chickens coming home to roost, of America’s long history of dissociation, disconnection, the paradox between our puritan values versus our culture that places sexuality front and center, on billboards and in magazines 24/7. American culture has always been this strange dichotomy of sexual repression and purity, versus bold expressions of anything goes. Gay pride parades? Topless protests? Porn stars and beauty pageants?

Am I the only person in the world who has noticed how even in our scary movies the woman about to get murdered is always wearing a matching bra and panty set? It’s an entire culture of predators and prey, victims and perpetrators, people as commodities, where human sexuality is very exploitative, entwined with power, and made up of winners and losers. Let is not forget the barely suppressed violence lurking right beneath the surface. Our girl in the matching undies is about to get herself  murdered.

It is as if our dirty laundry has now been drug out into the street, the chickens coming home to roost, and we are now forced to take a hard, cold look at ourselves. As much as I would like to look at these two candidates and blame Russian hackers or alien lizard over lords, they are actually us. They are a reflection of the culture we have created, the values we have embraced. They are our representatives.

They are us. That awareness should be enough to drive any of us to repentance. God shed His grace on us, and this is what we have done with it. That realization, that truth, is what leads me to conclude that the results of this election are not as important as I would like to believe. No matter who steps into those shoes, it is the heart and soul of this nation that needs healing, repenentance.

What we are seeing is also a very ugly and a very ancient power struggle between men and women, one infused in ego and pride. I am not stupid, this is clearly a wrestle for gender power and control, and it is heavily entwined with outright misogyny, even outright misandry, something many refuse to see, but something so many of us are well acquainted with and it all resonates, it reverberates, the fat jokes, the sexual rating system, the accusations of deception, the way one’s experience and qualifications carry no weight. The way one is the object of such hatred, such sexual rage, and yet also accused of having a dark heart, a “heart full of hatred” as if that somehow justifies one’s eternal status as prey. She ain’t no girl scout.

It doesn’t matter whether we hear the words, “I’ll see you in jail” or “I’ll see you dead,” the meaning and intent behind them is unmistakable. The desire there is complete annihilation, conquest, power. Domination as destruction.

He of course, is a potential predator, someone who has committed “assault”…..with his words, who has revealed the “criminality of his heart.” I read those words too, the criminality of his heart, the accusations of sexual assault….even in the absence of a complaining witness. The totally metaphorical and imaginary crime that has not yet happened, but it could, it is possible. He is first and foremost as a man, so a sexual criminal right off the bat, guilty until proven otherwise. Why do we shame and police such things? Because men have power they seldom understand and there are rules here, least one’s perpetual quest for domination reaps endless destruction. So yes, unacceptable, crass, vulgar, but let us not forget that the roots of some of that aggression, are a feature, not a bug.

A woman sitting in one of those post-debate pools, said something that stuck with me,she said, “I just feel as if something else is going on here, as if this election is more important than we understand, as if our very way of life is about to change forever. It’s like a kind of test.”

Yes, tell me about it. It’s kind of like a test. It’s just like a reckoning, a shaking, an opportunity to see ourselves as we really are and to change course. Who we vote for is not going to fix any of it.

But by all means, let us go forth and attempt to “preserve the dignity of the oval office….” I am encouraged to know we have actually hidden our dignity somewhere, like  a national treasure we can now take out and fondly remember when we are feeling a bit sentimental.

 

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