I'm not an avid Andrew Sullivan fan for several reasons, but this piece was recommended to me and this passage really helped me step outside my SF Bay Area Bubble and get it:
[Y]ou cannot understand the current GOP without also grasping how bewildered so many people are by the dizzying onset of modernity. The 21st Century has brought Islamist war to America, the worst recession since the 1930s, a debt-ridden federal government, a majority-minority future, gay marriage, universal healthcare and legal weed. If you were still seething from the eruption of the 1960s, and thought that Reagan had ended all that, then the resilience of a pluralistic, multi-racial, fast-miscegenating, post-gay America, whose president looks like the future, not the past, you would indeed, at this point, be in a world-class, meshugganah, cultural panic.
I enjoy the use of the word "meshugganah" as a descriptor for a group of people who would likely self-identify as Christian.
I suppose I've been a series of cosseted bubbles all along: I am of the "Free to Be ... You and Me" generation; I was nurtured in a Catholic congregation that eagerly embraced Vatican II and social justice; I spent six years in different colleges where building a better future was a core educational value; I began my working life on the Internet; I've lived nearly my entire adult life on what Colin Woodward has dubbed "The Left Coast."
I have always lived in a region or among people for whom "change" and "progress" are considered to be synonymous with "exciting" and "opportunity."
Sullivan's piece explains the people who think otherwise. In a way, it reminds me of the excellent blog post, "The Distress of the Privileged," which posits:
As the culture evolves, people who benefitted from the old ways invariably see themselves as victims of change. The world used to fit them like a glove, but it no longer does. Increasingly, they find themselves in unfamiliar situations that feel unfair or even unsafe. Their concerns used to take center stage, but now they must compete with the formerly invisible concerns of others.
There is the distinct possibility that I give "change" positive connotations because -- let's be honest here -- I belong to the gender that has had the vote for less than 100 years in this country. And to use that suffrage example: It's not like giving women the vote took it away from men. It didn't make them disadvantaged. It was a change that benefitted everyone in the long run. A lot of change does that.
But it is helpful and useful to me to have it spelled out that for some people, change is threatening because it makes the world a frightening and confusing place.
In grad school, one of my crowd's favorite debate topics was on the nature of technology and morality. Can you say that a specific technology is good or evil, or is the moral value in how that technology is deployed? I think it's an interesting distinction, and one that can be applied to change: Does change have a moral component? Or is it the agents and results of change that are moral?
I have to think this one through. But it's handy to understand the perspectives of people in entirely different bubbles. Thanks, Mr. Sullivan