I found I had been—rather charmingly, I thought—referring to myself for years as
"a brain-dead liberal," and to NPR as "National Palestinian Radio."
is, to me, the synthesis of this worldview with which I now found myself
disenchanted: that everything is always wrong.
But in my life, a brief
review revealed, everything was not always wrong, and neither was nor is always
wrong in the community in which I live, or in my country. Further, it was not
always wrong in previous communities in which I lived, and among the various and
mobile classes of which I was at various times a part.
And, I wondered,
how could I have spent decades thinking that I thought everything was always
wrong at the same time that I thought I thought that people were basically good
at heart? Which was it? I began to question what I actually thought and found
that I do not think that people are basically good at heart; indeed, that view
of human nature has both prompted and informed my writing for the last 40 years.
I think that people, in circumstances of stress, can behave like swine, and that
this, indeed, is not only a fit subject, but the only subject, of drama.
I'd observed that lust, greed, envy, sloth, and their pals are giving
the world a good run for its money, but that nonetheless, people in general seem
to get from day to day; and that we in the United States get from day to day
under rather wonderful and privileged circumstances—that we are not and never
have been the villains that some of the world and some of our citizens make us
out to be, but that we are a confection of normal (greedy, lustful, duplicitous,
corrupt, inspired—in short, human) individuals living under a spectacularly
effective compact called the Constitution, and lucky to get it.
That's great news. One less person will have to go to hell.
Oh, by the way, just in case you don't understand the humor, here's another joke ...
Q: How many Liberals does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: How much money you got? And, by the way, that's not funny, and we're bringing you up on Human Rights charges just for asking.