I was still a pre-teen when my father first said it. “You’re an INSTIGATOR.” I don’t know if I really understood what an instigator was at that point; oh, I knew the word, but the implications were far from clear.
He was right, you know. There is this part of me that has never pulled back from confrontation. I don’t like arguing, but I’m not afraid to raise an ugly point to get conversations started, or get a ball rolling, or to precipitate a response.
I wasn’t always eager for that role; but I daresay that it’s a role I have naturally fallen into more times than I care to count and without so much as a conscious thought. It just happens!
I suspect that my Facebook friends think I’ve gone off the deep end. Specially as regards the U.S. political situation. But I refuse to normalize the abnormal. The guy who rarely commented in years past about politics at all has become a haranguing harpie. Why? Because not enough people are standing up to say, “this is not normal, government should not be injuring the bulk of the governed, government should not be giving preferential treatment to those with the greatest means support themselves and taking away from those who are most in need. CEO’s should not be making thousands of times more than their workers. Corporations should be paying taxes and no matter how good their tax attorneys they should not be able to avoid taxes altogether. The worker making $10.00 or $20.00 an hour should not be subsidizing the CEO making thousands of dollars an hour.
An instigator can simply be someone who keeps things moving — to urge or goad on, as it were. But an instigator can also be the person who escalates a situation. I’m not sure I’m “that guy” but only time will tell. The prophets of the Old Testament were all instigators. God’s word to his people was rarely (if ever) lauditory. He didn’t congratulate them on how successfully they had followed his instructions because most of the time (all of the time) they hadn’t done such a good job. So God put prophets outside the city walls who did strange things — who appeared crazy and possessed — to gain enough attention to listen to the message — which wasn’t all that easy to hear.
In 2018 it seems no one is saying the things no one wants to hear. Politicians certainly are hiding behind their party and hiding behind their donors. Even the same Republicans who used to cry out for a balanced budge have given up their cry in an effort to mollify their donors who threaten to shut off their donations. In 2018 life for politicians is no longer about governing it’s about fund raising for their future and making friends who will hire them if they ever lose their congressional jobs. I can’t think of any worse kind of “representative” to have in government than one who puts himself before his/her constituents.
The problem with being an instigator is that you risk losing your audience. I’m sure I am playing the same game as anyone else. I can piss people off so much that they stop listening. But does that mean that I should stop speaking words that need saying? I don’t think so.
The shootings at Parkland — which I have not hitherto commented upon — offer some hope for the future. Our cycle of shootings – outrage – boredom – shooting – outrage – boredom may be ready to change; sometimes the times just have to be right, or ripe, or horrible enough to make a change. I hope that has happened now, or is happening. We’ll see.
In the meantime I guess I go on being an instigator and talking about things I think need talking about.