The sliver of terrain I inhabit grows narrower still
Every societal force for which I feel affinity ultimately comes up short
The occupational therapist I’m seeing for my dizziness issues has started having me put my feet together to do my gaze-stabilization exercises. I’d been positioning them - I don’t know, I guess maybe eighteen inches - apart, enough to established a stance that assured me I had my bearings. So I look at the fixed target on the wall, an “A” he drew on a post-it, and move my head left and right, as if to convene “no,” and then up and down in “yes” fashion, with my legs and feet squeezed tightly together.
A couple of weeks ago, he added a new exercise to my lineup. Since the weather’s warmed up, I go outside and do it walking up the street. I’m to look to my right for a couple of steps, come back to center for a couple of steps, and then to the left. Then up and down. Then in a diagonal fashion.
It’s not as easy as it sounds. When I first started doing it, I felt like I was walking a tightrope. I still do on occasion.
It’s an apt metaphor for where I am ideologically these days. Picture an ice floe that has fragmented to yield an impossibly small pie-shaped chunk on which one must stand.
This is not a new theme here at Precipice. My fifth piece, from January 2020, was titled “The Ever-Slimmer Piece of Ground The Pilgrim Finds For Planting His Or Her Feet.” “I Am Not Obligated To Pick A Side” from the following month was a followup. In June of that year, I posted “Reflections on the Binary Choice Argument.” More recently, I demonstrated what a ray of sunshine I can be with “Intitiutions in Ruin, and None That Aren’t.”
The thing is, the state of affairs hasn’t been static, but rather it’,s accelerated.
I’d invite you to reread “Disney,” the most recent piece prior to this one. The situation in Florida ought to have its own documentary, titled “Boneheads, Boneheads Everywhere.”
Let’s start with the deliberately truncated memories of not only the identity-politics militants (particularly the “LBGTQ community” subset thereof), but a whole lot of other people who want to narrowly focus on Florida’sgovernment overstepping its proper purview. A very considerable swath of our society takes as a given that the reinvention of human sexuality is a done deal. But let’s go over a very basic fact about this: It’s only in the last fifteen years - thirty at the outside - that any culture anywhere, at any time in human history, regarded the union of two people of the same sex as a type of marriage, much less treated the denial of one’s own DNA as anything other than a disturbance of the soul.
That said, the Florida legislature did indeed go for the most heavy-handed tactic available to respond to Disney’s announcement that it would actively seek to repeal the parental-rights law. Putting the kibosh on Disney’s special status, by which it can act as an autonomous governmental entity in the tract of land on which its theme park sits, establishes a rift that probably can’t be repaired. And I’m not sure those who have set Disney up as the enemy have done themselves any favors. Disney will either rally Florida’s progressives with unprecedented ferocity, or pull up stakes and go someplace awash in self-congratulation and preening. (“Welcome, Disney! We’re not bigots here!”) Recall that Disney was going to avoid involvement in all this until its activist employees raised a stink that couldn’t be ignored.
But Disney’s just one front on which what we call the culture war is being waged.
By the way, does anyone else think the term “culture war” has outlived its usefulness? It shouldn’t have. It ought to remain an apt characterization for what’s going on. But such is the way our times ever more quickly render terms obsolete. “Woke” is another example. People within a wide spectrum now have the sense that the only fellow citizens among us still using “woke” are overheated yay-hoos, looking to burnish their fierce-warrior bona fides, raise money for some gravy-train organization, or get elected to Congress.
That said, however, there is a very concerted effort among social-change types to serve notice to the rest of us that we will get our minds right or be banished from participation in the civic life of our communities and country.
There are two types of people who frustrate me to no end with their perpetuation of the message that concern about this is overblown. For shorthand, I’ll use individuals who embody the two types of argument for saying so.
It gives me no pleasure to call either of them out. I greatly admire both of them, and feel the work they do generally speaking is invaluable.
Let me start with Heath Mayo, the founder of Principles First. It was supremely important that that movement appeared when it did, and its importance continues to this day. But Mayo, whose presence on Twitter is considerable, is so focused on the ill-advised nature of the Florida legislature’s tactics that he risks coming across as oblivious to the very real damage late-stage progressivism is doing to Western civilization’s spiritual health. He’s a solid conservative. I know that. But there is more to conservatism than the limited-government pillar.
Then there’s David French. I hesitate to take issue with him, given the risk thereby incurred that one gets associated with Sohrab Amari-ism. Let me state with no ambiguity that I am not in Amari’s camp.
In fact, my frustration with French is rooted in his main virtue. He is first and foremost a Christian, a real, deep and sincere one. He has the heart of one who is constantly looking to see if he has a plank in his own eye, as we all should. But it leads him to say some things that, frankly, I don’t think serve the moment well, such as that “how you love your friends might be more important to our nation than what you think of CRT.”
Mr. French, with all due respect, the racialization of everything, along with the sexualization of everything, is a real and urgent problem.
Furthermore, the way he frames such things leaves him open to mocking from some truly scurrilous figures who, despite their vileness, have followings and influence. Since we’re naming names, I’ll say that Kurt Schlichter comes to mind in this regard.
So here I stand on this infinitesimal piece of real estate. I can do no other. I’m truly scared about the prospects for our civilization, but I cannot sign up for any of the formal organizations or movements I see on the landscape as a way to productively act on that fear.
If I’m not alone on the ice floe, I’d like to hear from those who stand on it with me.