Scaring the bejeezus out of me

I’ve had a few scares in my time. Near misses that could have been nasty car accidents. A snow machine incident that could have had far more disastrous consequences. Air turbulence that resulted in freewheeling trollies and broken limbs.

I’ve had heart-stopping moments that are etched on some deep stratum of my subconscious. Like when I first went abseiling and had to make that 90-degree flip over the end of the cliff. Or my first trip to Disneyland. Or my first earthquake in Alaska.

Feeling scared, though, is a completely foreign feeling for me. An old friend of mine, long since dead, told me once that he reckoned I had guardian angels working around the clock. Just observing my life and the potential trouble I could have gotten into over the years, this was the only explanation he could come up with for my living a life relatively unscathed.

But here I am, in the prime of my life, and I’m scared. Very scared. I have a nasty, pervasive feeling in the pit of my stomach that is slowly seeping into every core of my being. And try as I might to think good thoughts and imagine good things, it just won’t go away. If anything, it’s getting worse.

I won’t get into the politics of it all. Far too much (albeit hardly anything about policy) has been said by both sides of the Great American Debate to warrant my adding my tuppence ha’penny. Be it Clinton or Trump, whoever wins next month, wins. What scares me silly is the immediate aftermath.

bbbbI was in California during the Rodney King riots and should Clinton win, I fear that those riots will be replicated on streets across America in a couple of weeks. Trump is just a penny shy of prepping his more radical supporters to ready themselves. Should Clinton win, I fear that her rather invasive tendencies could see the world caught up in even more war. Should Trump win, I can’t see Clinton supporters being anything other than resigned to their loss, but I fear the far-reaching consequences of having his brand of rhetoric behind a global microphone.

It’s not about policy. Or mandates. Or visions of the future. My fear has to do with legitimising hate speech. Fomenting a distrust of all things foreign. Replacing tolerance with insularity. It’s about example, or the lack thereof.

I was brought up well. I was taught that one should never raise oneself up by bringing another person down. If this election campaign is taken as an example of twenty-first-century politicking, then I fear that politicians here in Hungary, and in the rest of the world, will see it as a behavioural blueprint and follow suit. And what then?

Young people the world over are seeing a level of nastiness that seems to know no boundaries. Tshirts worn by Trump supporters emblazoned with foul-mouthed epitaphs are shown on TV. Derogatory comments aired, and aired again, travel the world like virulent viruses. And the behaviour of potential world leaders, behaviour that would have been decried with disbelief when I was still young and impressionable, is in danger of becoming the norm.

Earlier this month I read that those employed by the Russian government who have children studying abroad were told to cut short their schooling and bring them home to be enrolled in Russian schools. If this is about protection the minds of the young, I wonder if Putin is on to something.

We’re already seeing the rise of parochialism. Small-mindedness and pettiness are on the rampage. Shortsightedness is blinding us to the damage being done by seemingly throwaway comments that are taking root in our collective psyche and altering our moral code. Bigotry and bias are being bandied around at will. It’s scary. I’m scared. And I wonder how much worse can it get and when we will feel the full brunt of it in Hungary.

First published in the Budapest Times 28 October 2016

7 replies
  1. Bernard Adams
    Bernard Adams says:

    Pure electoral hooliganism in USA at present. Trump is a demagogue of the worst kind, and Clinton has allowed herself to be dragged down towards his gutter level. If the American presidency were merely constitutional and ceremonial rather than executive none of this would happen.

    Reply
  2. pegonpause
    pegonpause says:

    There are many of us voters over here who are scared at the bejeezus level too, Mary. I have one friend who gets physically ill watching the debates. What can we do but pray, make lots of soup.

    Reply
  3. gingerpaque
    gingerpaque says:

    Other scary thoughts: that out of a country of over 300 million, these are our top two options for president. That so many people actively support ideas I find extreme and discriminatory. That a reality show campaign is working. I hope whoever wins the presidency does not have a majority in Congress. I hope this debacle gives rise to a real third party.

    Reply
  4. Donna
    Donna says:

    I’m scared too, Mary. Can’t live well with that feeling, so I do what I can, with my limitations. I can still smile at the next person in line at the grocery store, offer a taco to the gentleman on the corner holding a cardboard sign saying that ‘anything helps’, give a ride to a friend who has no car, compliment a Mom on her well behaved kids and VOTE. It’s still a privilege.

    Reply
  5. Clive Mercer
    Clive Mercer says:

    It might be about to get worse, most recent opinion polls in the States indicate that Donald Trump is now in the lead. If he wins, then the American’s, like with George Bush, are bound to give him a second term. Four let alone eight years of Donald Trump, is a prospect to truly chill the heart !!
    Like Donna, there are still people who smile at each other, who pass the time of day, who care, who look out for each other.
    People like Trump and those other names you raise, may win at this moment, but one has to believe that in the longer term, true humanity will prevail. Patience is essential and one must never ever give up the fight for a better and fairer world. This is not a good time, but also not a time to abandon speaking out against these abusers.

    Reply

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