I’m not sure what I was expecting to uncover, walking through the same neighborhoods that I ran through exactly twelve years ago. Was I expecting to see someone who would recognize me, or perhaps run into myself of that era? Why am I so possessed of the desire to be inserted into other times or alternate versions of this universe? Why can’t I be happy with my particular time and place and version of this universe?
After all, I am one of the privileged. I am reminded of this every single day by liberal friends who want me to clearly recognize that if I weren’t who I am, my life would surely be most miserable and unfair.
A memory of being overly excited as my mom lay on her death bed. I wasn’t happy that she was dying, I was suddenly possessed with the realization that this was the last time in this lifetime I would have any sort of happiness due to the fact that I had my mother to talk to. In other words, I had better get in my appreciation and happiness for having a mom to talk to now, because it was about to go away. Indeed, within a day or so, I couldn’t talk to her anymore, and then she died a week or so later.
If we all were suddenly given a complete and sure understanding of the future, and the future was presented to us as a clearly bleak and grim one where Trump declared martial law, enslaved or removed forty percent of the population and began launching nukes at any country that offended him on Twitter–some of us would rise up and try to prevent it from happening, and others would become crazily happy knowing that it was the final hour of their cherished way of life.
I was thinking more about the movie Scrooged, and why the movie hasn’t inspired more people to stop being like the Bill Murray character. In truth, most of us have a mixture of the Scrooge and the do-gooder in us. We really want to have both–we want to show the world that we are strong, successful people who have made it on our own without any help, and we also want to show the world that we are kind-hearted people who can freely give of our time and talents without measuring the cost. Occasionally, along comes someone like Donald Trump, who appears to have no sense of charity about him, and we might think that such a character would never get close enough to the oval office–not in our country. But, I guess enough generations have passed since the Great Depression and WWII that people have forgotten what it is like to give a man like that so much power, and people have forgotten what it was like to be on the receiving end of so much unchecked greed.
There is probably also some truth to the fact that in any society of genuinely good and kind-hearted people, all it takes is a few pushy, greedy bad apples to rise to the top and convince even the most kind-hearted that it is okay to be a little more on the greedy side than the charitable side.
Someone else might take the especially long view of our country’s history, and see the butchering of Native Americans and enslavement of African Americans, and general mistreatment of many others like Japanese Americans during WWII, and conclude that we have an awful lot of bad coming to us–a bunch of bad karma stored up that we haven’t paid for yet.
I’m not sure why I’m going off on this tangent. It’s the general malaise of knowing that the season of plenty and peace is almost over, and the rough times are ahead, and yet I don’t really know what to do about any of it. Should I be prepping for doomsday, steeling myself for some kind of martyrdom, studying up on the software skills I need to have to move to New Zealand, or being like most everyone else and just waiting and seeing what happens?
I sure wish I could be a much better person than I am. I wish I was more charitable, magnanimous, kind, and willing to empathize with the other, even when the other is at complete odds with me politically. I sometimes strive greatly to be that kind of person, and I always fall mightily into these deep funks of despair and anger at the world–going sometimes to an almost polar opposite extreme of that kind of person and finding fault with every single human being on earth.
I wish I was genuinely kind and charitable.
It is so easy to look into the past and see the way that people behaved to each other, and declare that we are much more advanced and enlightened today. Individuals might be of a mind to say that as a society, we haven’t advanced as much as we’d like to think, but I, this particular individual, am particularly enlightened and am a model and will be a model for future generations who are to become as enlightened as I am. In other words, each of us likes to think that we are not inescapably entrenched in our own culture like the rest of the schmucks who comprise our culture.