Amid the craziness of this past week, particularly the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election and some personal stuff, I have been reflecting a lot on something heard on the Philosophize This! podcast. One specific episode, which I found timely to what is currently playing out back home, focused on French writer Albert Camus and his perspective on confronting the “Absurd.” Not to be confused with its colloquial use, this concept is something more: it is the premise that the universe is inherently meaningless, yet humans perpetually seek meaning in it.
Seems like a bummer, no? Yes, and according to Camus and other so-called existentialist, this presents all of us with a choice: suicide (physical or philosophical), a leap of faith (my personal choice), or recognition (Camus’ choice). To put it simply, Camus felt that the latter was the only defensible position, where an individual acknowledged the Absurd and sought meaning through living life unshackled by absolutes. Although I choose to embrace another path, that of adhering to a religious interpretation of the universe, I share in the writer’s pursuit of finding beauty amid a world seemingly cold towards humanity.
This feels especially relevant in the era of rising (insert term)-phobia, be it Islamophobia, generalized xenophobia, transphobia, homophobia. As a former history major, one of the sad truths of human’s existence is that fear, usually unfounded in actual facts, dictate individuals’ reactions to uncertain times. What is occurring in the wake of President Trump’s ascendency embodies familiar characteristics, namely the manipulation of popular discontentment and anxieties stemming from a world that appears ambivalent towards many. Unable to fully accept that the vision of a mythical America of the past has always been a fabrication and that an increasingly unregulated market economy has left them without work (and by extension, dignity IMO), many of those elated by current events choose to direct their energies towards individuals who are not to blame, i.e. minority groups. For a segment of society that claims to be making “America Great Again,” it is not addressing the real issues at hand, perpetuates the worst of human behavior, and plays nicely into the hands of someone who will probably sell everyone out in the end.
TL;DR: Dear Trump supporters, admit it; this guy you elected is not going to fix what is really hurting you and keeps you angry. Realize that the people you terrorize, curse on the street, and assault probably have more in common with you than you choose to believe.