i'm going to say a lot of things in this post that aren't considered politically correct, so if you are a Gentle Reader easily offended, i urge you to consider stop reading now.
one of the things i always find interesting about spending time with my brother david is that it gives me insight into how the Other Half thinks. im talking about the people who dont get to haul around an IQ like mine. (if you're the sort of person who wants to take issue with the fact i know im intelligent, stop reading NOW.)
david's thought processes aren't just slower than mine. david lacks an intrinsic ability to make connections. it's hard for him to understand something as concrete that if he oversleeps and the dog refuses to go out with me, the first thing he must do upon awakening is to walk the dog - not eat his own breakfast the way he always does. david's mind seems to function more or less like a one-way track. things happen in serial progression not because they must but because in david's world, they do. as a child, i remember that david didn't play with his toys unless there was someone else to play with him.
the reason i find david, as a high-functioning downs' syndrome person, so illuminating is that he is not that far off the mean. so when i was reading in the new york times this morning, about The Very Angry Tea Party, what occured to me is that the Tea Party isn't so much angry as afraid, and the reason they're afraid is that they're just Not That Smart.
the reason the tea part is so angry and afraid is that they lack imagination. like david, they can't play unless someone shows them how. they can't dream a better Dream unless someone dreams it for them. i know the thinking of a Typical Tea Partier because my mother (shudder) is one. (as someone very wise said, if it's a good idea to keep your friends close and your enemies closer, i guess it can't get any better than that.)
the basic thinking seems to be that they perceive themselves as being at risk for losing "everything"...that "everything" is in limited quantity and that "everything" should belong to the people who "work" for it. i use quotation marks because these are loose terms and must be understood in the way the Tea-Partiers themselves define it at any given moment in time. i think this is why some of us on the Other Side of the Bell Curve are sometimes confused and might think of Tea-Partiers as "liars."
they're not deliberately "lying" - i want to believe - they're just being loosey-goosey with their language and not cluing the rest of us in. (not only do they lack imaginations, many of them lack vocabularies. this is not my mother's issue, however.)
the Tea Partiers - like my mother, goddess bless her - aren't so much angry as afraid, and the reason they are afraid is that they lack imagination. like my brother, they just can't imagine doing anything differently from the way "it's always been done." or "the Way our Founding Fathers wanted us to do it...", whatever That Way is. the writer of the new york times article points out quite eloquently the illogic contained within the Tea Party's platform.
of course they are illogical. scared, angry people who aren't terribly smart to begin with can't be expected to be rational. they may well be the salt of the earth and the backbone of the nation (and their children are certainly our cannon fodder) but by what they say and what they want they show they aren't that smart.
clearly the answer is that what's needed is not denigration. i don't make my brother feel bad because he thinks he's supposed to have breakfast first. and until these people can stop being afraid, i don't think explanations will help much either. there's really only one answer and it's what works most effectively with my brother but how to apply is beyond my ability.
and furthermore, the war will end, despite the Tea Party's efforts to the contrary. blessed be.