Making Sense of Non-Sense

Michael Bettencourt-Scene4 Magazine

Michael Bettencourt

There comes a time when it doesn’t make sense to try to make sense of things. I’ve concluded this from reading David Javerbaum’s occasionally functioning Tweet of God, the Twitter account of the Almighty.

Much of Javerbaum’s word-slinging is just outright hilarious (as it should be, given his pedigree as a writer and producer on The Daily Show for 11 years), at least to me, who likes a humor whose clever snark reveals a nugget of truth I hadn’t known was true until I heard it voiced (and which does a good deal of cliché- and sentimentality-puncturing along the way).

A mini-selection:

    = Good things come to those with money.

    = Science is true whether or not you believe it, but religion is true whether or not it’s true.

    =  Out of curiosity, where were you all thinking of moving after you’re done destroying the Earth? Because I assume you’ve thought that through.

    =  All your dreams can come true if you only have the courage to pursue them with a psychopathic disregard of basic human morality.

    =  Human beings are the only creatures on earth with the potential to make themselves the only creatures on earth.

I could go on, but better to read them for yourself for the good tonic effect.

But as funny as most of them are, Javerbaum’s renderings only provide a respite, not a solution, since no amount of sarcasm, irony, satire, mockery or ridicule can neutralize the radioactive whining and self-victimizing diffusing from the White House and its environs. We’re all irradiated well past any safety level for this stuff, toxified beyond repair.

The Democratic debates, though, have provided something of a breather from the Chernobyl on the Potomac, but watching them reminded me of something someone (Gore Vidal?) once said that anyone wanting to run for president should be disqualified because of insanity.

And the impeachment proceedings? Enough said.

To paraphrase James Baldwin, why would anyone want to be president of a house that’s burning down?

So, where can one look for relief and inspiration? I sometimes find it in the students with whom we work, who, God bless them, still believe that the values of chesed [charity] they’ve imbibed from the Torah should be the guiding principles of their lives. I have always been impressed with the number of hours hundreds of volunteers put into working with local schools on science projects, organizing top-level conferences on medical ethics, traveling on humanitarian missions and helping high school students navigate college admissions, to name just a few of the dozens of projects in play at any moment.

I also find it in our faculty, especially those connected with the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where the immigration lawyers have battled the administration’s multiple assaults and the Innocence Project has freed over 300 people from injustice. They do admirable work with admirable results.

Truth be told, there are hundreds of projects in play throughout the country helmed by people committed to emancipation and justice, fighting the good fight because that is the only fight worth fighting. There is no lack of energy in the hinterlands outside Washington, D.C.; what’s lacking is a movement and institutions to aggregate it into a force that can reshape vocabularies and redirect priorities. That this hasn’t happened yet is not a cause for despair but a call to those of us looking for something to do to go and do something.

Yes, the Tweets of God play in the back part of my mind, reminders of how human foibles are ever ready to sabotage our utopias and deflate our ideals. Fine. The trick is to use the foibles as a checklist rather than let them act as sappers, using them to build imperfect ideals and rickety paradises rather than letting them keep us from making the attempt to make things better. Three maxims: Never let the perfect be the enemy of the good, finished is better than perfect and sometimes one has to take the bull by the tail and face the situation.

If we can make things that are good-enough to get us through, that maybe aren’t the kingdom of heaven on earth but are much more than the land of Mordor we have now, we will have done much. The Tweet of God says, “The road to enlightenment always leads through the valley of morons.” But it doesn’t have to stop there. Let’s take that road that runs right through all of us and do great things.

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Michael Bettencourt is an essayist and a playwright.
He writes a monthly column and is
a Senior Writer for Scene4.
Continued thanks to his “prime mate"
and wife, Maria-Beatriz.
For more of his columns and articles,
check the Archives.

©2020 Michael Bettencourt
©2020 Publication Scene4 Magazine


Scene4 Magazine: Perspectives - Audio | Theatre Thoughts  | Michael Bettencourt April 2016 | www.scene4.com





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