Confronting sociopolitical denial

“It’s fine–I’m fine–everything’s fine,” says Theo parodically (Theo is the hero in Cuaron’s politically brilliant film Children of Men), whenever something particularly terrible occurs. For indeed isn’t “Everything’s fine” the claim of power, stupidity, and/or denial through the years?

This comes to mind, this late-March 2014, as we read of the county officials ignoring hydrologists’ and army engineers’ warnings of the deadly hillside that fell, 4 days ago, on the town of Oso, WA. I am reminded of it, too, by the county officials and new neighbor here who continue to ignore concerns that the neighbor’s excavations may harm my easement and home. I am reminded further when I consider the “deaf ear” turned to the dangers of noise (such as constant television noise in hospitals or apartment buildings) just as, for decades, the dangers of air-particle pollution were denied.

Above all, I am reminded of the Cold War years, not only the crazed denial that more nukes would bring more security, but, worse, the all-permeating claim–enforced especially through “freudian” psychology and its popularizers (including the too beautifully made but inimical films The Snakepit and The Goddess, and that worst-of-the-worst pop-psych books, Generation of Vipers)–that, especially for women, blacks, and the powerless, If You Think Something’s Wrong, It Means That Something’s Wrong in You.

The greatest internal liberation of the 1960s, for many of us, and of the early 1970s for many women, was to see that No It Isn’t Wrong in Us–We Are Whole and the Problem Is the System.

Yes, the problems, as we learned, were and are in our political-social system(s). Part of what we–as persons, as writers, as woman or man or trans or other, and of any age–continue to learn, and each generation learns anew, is what–and how pervasive, and at how many levels–these systems are.


Copyright 2014 by Paula Friedman. All rights reserved.


2 thoughts on “Confronting sociopolitical denial

  1. Well done, Paula. I am sorry to hear that you have to deal with some anxiety around your own property safety, similar to the massive landslide up north of here. And I’d like to support your own thinking around the danger of too much noise. I recently spent three years dealing with a massive development next door to me, with noise levels of around 60 to 85 decibels 5 and 6 days a week, all day long. It affected my health to the point that I became almost psychotic, experienced extreme fatigue, my memory loss was terrible, I had trouble focusing on small subjects, became irritable, and so on. Now I have asthma cough variant as well, in part from the constant stress. Noise is dangerous to our health and well being, and thus to the community at large. The good news is that after a year and a few months of relative quiet, I am starting to recover some of what I lost. I agree with you wholeheartedly that the system itself, our external culture, is affecting us on multiple levels. Denial is no longer working, thankfully. Keep on keepin’ on, my friend.

    • Susan, I just came on this post today, March 2, 2015. (I rarely look at my blog, anymore.) Reading your post, I am struck by it, of course. Shall email or p.m. soon on this. I think of you often and am holding you in my heart. —Paula

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