so that happened

Boiling Point

 

They say that if you drop a frog in boiling water it will jump right back out, whereas if you put it in cold water and turn the heat up slowly, the frog will boil to death without ever realising it’s in danger.

It’s complete rubbish, of course.

Let’s be honest, if you drop a frog in boiling water it will die. If you put it in cold water and turn the heat up slowly, the frog will escape the minute it starts to feel uncomfortable. Still, it’s a handy made-up metaphor for allowing creeping change to cheerfully lead you down a path you never meant to take. Before you know it you’re lost, your phone is out of battery, you have no light to guide the way, none of the trees look familiar, and… are those… eyes shining in the darkness?

I’m assuming that you did not spend your weekend in a remote cabin somewhere, studiously avoiding all media and interaction with the modern world. If this assumption is correct then you probably already know where I’m going with this.

America, when did you get so metaphorically amphibian?

Over the past few months I’ve spoken with some people who live in America, and they’ve nodded and agreed that what’s going on – be it the travel ban, or the rise of the alt-right, or Trump in general – is scary, but then, inevitably, they’ve followed it up with some sort of phrase to minimise the situation.

“…But I mean, it doesn’t make a difference really in the day-to-day…”

“…But of course it’s also sensationalised in the media…”

“…But it’s really just a few bad apples…”

Do you know what the rest of that phrase is?

“A few bad apples spoil the bunch.”

Here’s the thing, from the outside looking in America looks like it’s in a very bad place right now. The ruling party seem uninterested in excommunicating the most poisonous parts of their base, corruption seems to have infested the White House from top to bottom and the Help-me-Obi-Wan-Kenobi-you’re-our-only-hope of this Empire seems to be Mueller. For a country that used to be held up as an example of liberty and justice for all, a beacon of modern ideals, it now seems to be imploding. Internal conflict has it straining at the seams, and the rest of the world is giving it a wary side-eye.

The US is an enormous country. I understand that it can seem impossible to band together for a cause when there are 323 million people to consider and the longest drive end to end – if you didn’t stop to eat, drink or pee – takes over 50 hours. It’s difficult to gain any kind of traction or momentum as a nation when people are spread out over so wide a swathe of land. It’s hard to put pressure on the government when all they have to do is field your calls; they know they don’t have to worry about an unruly mob of tens of millions laying siege to the Capitol Building anytime soon.

But guys.

GUYS.

That philosophical water is getting hotter. Sure, it doesn’t seem to impact BBQ plans or trips to Target or stressful work weeks, and for the most part that’s true. Sure, it may seem like nothing more than a relentless pocket of ignorant assholes, and for the most part that, too, is true.

But if the events of Charlotteville teach us anything, it’s that the water is almost at boiling point, and it doesn’t show any signs of cooling.

What’s the solution? Is there one? Is it a case of needing to hit rock bottom? If things haven’t hit rock bottom yet, what might that look like? Is there another way of turning off the heat?

*Unlike the frog metaphor, this adage is actually true. Apples emit hormones as they ripen, and if one overripe apple finds its way into a barrel, the hormones it gives off will eventually cause all the other apples to rot. The more you know!

 

 

 

43 thoughts on “Boiling Point

  1. Excellent post. And I wish I had an answer to your question. In some ways I have felt like there is a boiling point that will spill out of control one day, and flashpoints like this weekend seem to be driving us closer to the edge. But then, there seems too many distractions for a revolution these days. Meaning, we speak with vitriol about one thing or another, but back we go (myself included) to social media, to sports, to the beach and we seem less willing to be in it for the long haul. That is how it feels to me. I said before the results of this election that one thing that dismayed me was that discourse now seems to mean posting a well meaning meme that sums up the situation. Not dialogue, just a quote from someone and a photo. And I think that speaks to where we are now. We feel it a protest if we put up some wise words from someone. We feel we have done our part from a distance.

    1. I agree with this but it’s very difficult to see how anything can change without electoral engagement. They need to feel the pressure and I think it’s extremely difficult to get that going when everyone is so spread out and feeling so helpless…

  2. I’m an American safely ensconced in London for the time being, but what I see happening is horrifying. When Trump won the election I cried myself to sleep. But where we are today is way worse than I had even imagined. A year ago, if someone had said there would be a KKK march, it would have seemed unbelievable. At every turn I think we’ve hit the boiling point, and then something worse happens. When is it going to stop.

    The election felt like a loss of identity, a “my home isn’t what I always thought it was” realisation. Now, I just never want to go back. Not unless something very drastic changes.

    I hope that enough people will be horrified at what is happening that the pendulum swings wildly the other way at the next election. It’s our only hope.

    1. This made me feel so sad for you. At least I’m witnessing it from afar. I feel worried for people there but I don’t have a familial bond there, my worry is abstract.

      I also hope that the 2018 election wipes this all from the slate, but I’m not sure it will be that easily rolled back…

  3. Nicely put.
    I do think a lot of Americans are amazing, the good ones, at phoning their Senators, at donating, at taking to the streets, of continuously protesting.
    The problem is, there are not enough of them.
    And they need to keep up the pressure.
    Having a madman white supremacist as a president doesn’t make it easy.

    1. I think this is exactly true. There aren’t enough. The massive numbers of people involved means that even if it’s hundreds of thousands of people (which I even doubt) it’s still a miniscule number compared to the general population…

  4. To be honest, while I somewhat look up to US-American media like musicians, filmmakers, etc. I would never EVER want to live in the US. From what I gathered from European media, Obama made some good changes, but now Trump is viciously making everything ‘worse’. It seems as if no one nows his agenda, what >he< actually wants to do and why. It seems mad.

    1. It does seem mad. HE seems mad, and I’m still a little incredulous that he even got elected. And we’re eight months in! Ridiculous.

      1. YES! I thought that by now he would have either been impeached or assassinated. Seems harsh but I actually thought that would be more likely than him being president for more than half a year… What is wrong with the world…

  5. As always, whatever the topic, a very well articulated post that makes you want to read to the end even if you know where the end is leading.
    Although it is at best questionable whether a front will jump out of hot water, it is very true that one bad apple will spoil the whole basket. Unfortunately, our basket has already spoiled. And that bad apple wasn’t Trump as the “liberals” would lead you to believe nor Obama nor Hillary as the “conservatives” will claim. As the apple’s rot is hard to see before its signs show, so has been America’s. And as often as true, once you discover that something is rotten in the basket it is equally as often hard to determine which apple was the first to rot.
    The boiling point wasn’t Charlottesville a week ago. More likely it was Selma a generation ago though we were too busy being an example to the world to notice.
    I don’t have answers. It took me half of my life to even figure out the questions and I’m pretty sure I don’t yet have all of them. But like the frog who is willing to leave his comfortable pond when the heat rises, we have to be willing to leave our personal comfort zones. Nobody is going to add ice cubes to our tub. We have to lower the heat on our own. And that won’t happen by turning up the heat anywhere else.
    Apologies for the long comment. Like you I wasn’t oblivious to social media, or to the rest of society over the past week and wanted to articulate my answer to when did we get so amphibian over here.

    1. This is a really well thought-out comment. Thank you, I think your theory is extremely interesting, I think the visibility of all of this blatant bigotry is shocking to a lot of people, but you’re right that it’s probably been brewing for a while, and the analogy of trying to find the original rotting apple is a great one.

      Thanks for this, food for thought.

  6. I hate to say it, but my home town is right down the road from Charlottesville and events like this have been occurring almost every weekend since Trump was announced future president (though they say it’s because of an issue with a statue being removed). This one has been the only gathering that resulted in a death of some kind (luckily…?) and still, President Pompous Prick refuses to acknowledge those in the wrong. I hate what his candidacy has brought to light (hatred, bigotry, etc.), but in a way, it’s good. It’s good to know what it is we need to fix and fight for it. In all honesty, I didn’t realize there was still so much hatred in my fellow Americans until recently. It hurts my heart.

    1. God that is grim. I hope this is an exception and not the start of a trend (the death). It hurts my heart too and it’s not even my country so I can’t even imagine how you feel.

  7. There are a lot of Americans actively opposing Trump and working really hard to make sure this does not become the new normal. Unfortunately fascism and dictatorships thrive on people going about their days like nothing is happening, and too many Americans are doing just that :/

    1. This is definitely true, I just think the amount of engaged individuals willing to make that (enormous) effort is tiny relative to the general population. It’s so difficult to get the numbers up. I hope more and more people feel provoked into action.

    1. We are in a relatively safe spot up here on top of the world, but it just makes me so sad to think of the number of people whose lives have got harder and scarier because of this year’s events.

  8. I hope Obi-Wan saves the empire soon!!!!! What’s the science behind boiling toads, toads of the perma-tan variety?
    It’s terrifying, I actually have no words, just a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I think about it all!
    Excellent post xo

    1. ME TOO. Come on Obi-Wan hurry up! Did you ever watch Sabrina the Teenage Witch? Do you remember that guy who used to show up, the human neon traffic cone, who use to just blare “WARNING! WARNING! DANGER! DANGER! IF YOU DO NOT ______ THE CONSEQUENCES WILL BE DIRE!” I think that guy needs to just camp out in the Oval Office for a while.

      That was a bit of an obscure reference so if you don’t know what I’m talking about just ignore it…..!

      1. I watched Sabrina but I don’t remember the human traffic cone, he sounds hilarious though😂😂 they sure could be using him in the Oval!!

  9. That’s a very well written post on a very important issue. As humans we have a tendoncy to neglect the bigger future problems to solve immediate ones. But turning a blind eye is not going to make the problem go away…America will eventually hit rock bottom unless for some trump becomes a immediate problem…in which case may be someone will do something.

  10. Maybe it’s because I am a bit oppositional defianc-y (it is so a word) but when everyone gets to this boiling point of rage and pain, I turn into a wise obnoxious Buddha. White Supremacists are unhappy with their lives, their country and their situation.. This countries black population are unhappy with their lives, their country, and their situation. In my reality, my side is right, in their reality, their side is right. But the solution remains the same Education, Healthcare, Equality, Ending Wage Disparity, and Education a few hundred more times. Desperate people do desperate things.
    https://damngirlgetyourshittogether.com/

  11. Excellent observations. Unfortunately, the mechanisms for ousting a sitting president take a lot of time, effort and consensus building. I am hoping that Meuller’s investigation pays dividends sooner rather than later. Even if it does, nothing is likely to happen before the 2018 elections (hard to believe, right?!?) Worse, early indications are that the majority of the seats up for election next year are in areas where the far right wing-nuts are in the majority. Odds of flipping congress are pretty low.

    We can protest, call our senators, whine & cry all we want. The only way for the rank and file populace to effect change is at the polls. Until then, Mr Meuller and his team of attorneys are the best shot we have.

  12. I agree with you. Well said! As a Canadian, we tend to joke it off or say “glad it doesn’t happen here”, (which in itself is ignorance at its finest), but that is just adding to the global complacency. And complacency us what will do the most harm.

    1. Meanwhile, today, TODAY, in Qc, “traditionalist” groups are calling for complete closing of our borders to stop the sudden influx of illegal (Haitian) immigrants as a result of Trump’s recent comments.

      Oh yay. We are a shining example to the world, we are. #winningathypocrisy

  13. I once wrote a post called “Boiled Frog” but it was about global warming, not frogs. The americans I speak with are all extremely stressed by what’s going on. It’s like waking up to the police telling you that your brother is an ax murderer. It’s too unbelievable to be true. For my part, I’ve written a couple of lackluster opinion pieces, but mostly I’m so disappointed in my country men and women that I’ve sort of shut down. So what I’d say is when you put a frog in boiling water, it simply swims around in a pond of disbelief until someone drives a car into it.

  14. Dammit. I wrote an awesome comment and then the internet crashed and it was gone. Not all of us are making excuses. Some of us are too freaked out to speak.

  15. Girl. I could not have said it better, I am a hue empath and the events of this past week have put me in a very sad state.

    I thought about posting on Charlottesville, but I was and am still sorting through it I feel. It’s heartbreaking, as you stated – a country once known for freedoms and encouragement….Honestly just feels like it’s going down in flames. It’s a very uncomfortable feeling…And I’m not sure what is next for us but I hope some good comes out of this, we will resist and prevail!

    I wondered what other countries thought of these shameful events and this confirmed it and that Cheeto asshole and his followers are an embarrassment.

    ❤️🙏🏻 thanks for reminding us to band together and send some Irish luck our way! ❤️ please. Lol

  16. I value your view point as a non American. It is interesting to see what someone from the outside sees and has to say.

    As an American though, race and class inequality has always been an issue here. The media is very manipulative about what is going on right now and with Trump. Sure he isn’t the greatest man in the world, but these issues have always been around since before Trump and they will be here after him.

    Inequality has been around since the beginning of our nations birth– it is the American people who need to band together and put their differences aside, which like your pointed out there are 323 million of us spread over a huge country. Going from state to state sometimes can almost seem like you are in a foreign country. I believe this issue is something we will always have to deal with because of those bad apples you mentioned…

    Just a thought from an Americans perspective.

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