So what does this have to do with history? I think the answer starts with the question of what we have come to accept as normal.
�It seems normal to us that we have accepted that we have fought two decade-long wars, with enormous cost to an economy that had already been made dysfunctional by tax cuts, and a truly incalculable cost in terms of loss and damage to human lives, some of our best young people, with no positive gain by any pragmatic calculation.
�It seems normal that the origin of the policies and machinations that have created an economic disaster second only to the Great Depression should have been largely forgotten, so that the president who was left to clean up the terrible mess is now tagged with failure while his opponent runs on the same policy framework that got us into our current state.
�It seems normal that we are so deeply addicted to the automobile that it is all but impossible to live nearly anywhere in America without driving a car that is terribly inefficient in terms of cost to the individual, and deeply harmful to the globe in terms of climate change and geopolitical conflict.
�It seems normal that we put people into prison because they use or sell recreational drugs, creating the one of the largest percentages of incarcerated citizens in the world, even as it seems normal to us that the most dangerous drug of all, alcohol—the only easily available drug that causes complete blackouts and the cause of more deaths among young people than anything else—sponsors most televised athletic events and is one of the greatest sources of advertising revenue for media outlets, especially network television.
�Getting drunk in college is something of a cultural ethos. The joke runs that “I’m not an alcoholic until I graduate.” You could say that our national college graduation rate—something less than fifty percent—is sponsored by Budweiser.
�It seems normal to us that during the period since the 1960s that psychiatry has risen to prominence and pharmaceutical companies have promised new cures for old maladies, the number of individuals with various mental illnesses has increased almost exponentially. The proposal that the new revision of the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual would treat normal bereavement at the loss of a loved one as a psychiatric condition treatable by anti-depressants was shot down, but you can see the drift of their thinking.
�It seems normal to us that almost half of registered Republican voters report that they believe that the President of the United States is a Muslim and/or is not an American citizen.
�It seems normal to us that 400 individuals in the United States control the same amount of wealth as the lowest 40 percent of Americans. If you put the annual income of someone in the top ten percent of wealth in the country—a group to which I almost belong—into a stack of $100 bills, it would measure an inch and a half. If you put the wealth of one of the top 400 into the same stack of bills, it would be about the length of the Putney Road strip. Some of the top 20 or so would have a stack as tall as Mt. Everest.
Read the entire article at Creativity, Disorder, and the Madness of History | Writing, ADD, and Culture.