As I write, the nation waits anxiously for Jan Brewer, governor of Arizona, to veto yet another crazy right-wing bill that causes the rest of the nation to say we’re not moving there, not vacationing there, and frankly, at this point, I don’t even care about your drought. One of my Facebook friends — who lives in Arizona and most definitely is hoping for a veto, because it would indeed improve life for people she knows and loves — has reposted that meme which says, “I can’t believe we have to protest this same shit again.”
And that explains why it doesn’t matter whether Governor Brewer signs the bill: these people are not doing policy, they’re acting out an unhealthy family system. Indeed, Arizona history itself demonstrates this: the objects of discrimination keep changing, but the mechanism is the same every time. A majority gets their adrenaline power fix by passing one of these bills, the outcry rises, a few “sensible voices” rise up to roll back the policy, and after a decent interval, the cycle begins again.
It is time right now to quit trying to deal with the crazies and go after their enablers. That is why I am telling Jan Brewer and her business community that it doesn’t matter what they do: Arizona — and my fantasy of a Grand Canyon honeymoon — are already dead to me. These measures are on a roll in Arizona — the “papers please” law, the “medicaid expansion,” and who knows what else. The crazies cannot sustain themselves: the problem is that we keep applauding their enablers.
I recognize these enablers. They are the “just one drink won’t hurt her” uncle at the wedding, the “he only takes that for pain” parents, the “I know how to control him when he gets like this” spouse. And after awhile, when you get that next wedding invitation, you don’t just ask if so-and-so is coming, you also ask whether they’ll have their enabler in tow.
Family systems is different from political dialogue, because it makes no pretense of persuasion. It doesn’t talk about “I know you’re gonna get better,” or, “what a hard time you’re having.” It just says, “I’ve got certain things I have to do, which are right, which are natural, which are not easy. So long as you’re in my way, I can’t have you in my life.”
Universalism has a hard time with family systems, because saying, “I can’t have you in my life” sounds so much like, “You might as well go to hell.” Yes, it hurts to be mean, and manipulators will easily exploit your pain to get their way. My answer to that is simple: “In my religion, God forgives everything. That is the difference between God and me.” When asked about that line in The Prayer of Jesus, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us,” I answer: “Forgive does not mean putting them in a position to wrong me again. Indeed, Jesus called us to help sinners avoid falling back into their sin. That is why it is so important to understand your definition of sin.”
Well, at this point, my definition of sin would be for me to consider another visit to Arizona. I will probably check my vegetable labels to make sure they don’t come from that state, despite my compassion for their organic farming movement. I promise to contribute my little bit to making sure the Superbowl next year doesn’t go there, regardless of what the governor does. Major corporations should be removing their headquarters from this state until it gets healthy.
At this moment, the enablers are under more pressure from us than are the addicts. We have to relieve their pressure by helping them do the right thing. And at this point, the way we do that is to tell them they have already forfeited the Superbowl. They can only get another one, and not in my lifetime (I am sixty), by spending a generation without giving in to the sweet temptation of enabling their hate-mongering crowd.