WORDS: 1,335 —  To be, or not to be may be the question for that famous playwright back in the day but it seems these last few years in this country it’s been more like  answering the question.. to have been, or not to have been.  The nation seems to be changing in numerous ways as a result of a number of national experiences, which means, I am destined to be the local old fart who remembers the country “way back the way it used to be”.  That role used to fall to my parents recalling those “heady” days living through The Great Depression as kids and being the victors of World War II as adults.

[ABOUT THE IMAGE ABOVE –  From a painting by Wayne Pascall.  Either we help each other from going over the edge, or we risk being pulled over the edge together.]

As I write this… ravaging storms…  What a mess.  But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

For much of my adult life I have often shared with those younger, including my own children, the trials and tribulations in living through the 1960’s.  There was the civil rights movement coming to a head… the desegregation of the South, the Marches, the church bombings, the racial killings.  There was the Watts Riots in L.A., the 1968 Democratic Convention Chicago riot.  The assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy and crippling of Governor George Wallace (1972).  There was Vietnam and the subsequent anti-war movement with demonstrations galore nationwide by hippies, when the week’s body counts of Americans killed in those strange sounding places on the evening TV news became just numbers after a while.  I literally thought back then that the world was totally out of control.  I would compare with those willing to listen to my aging babble and be comforted to know there had been worse times before, how seemingly far more critical of an experience it was living through all that than it was today… “today” being up until 2017.  That anything we would experience under Trump would not be anything like it was during the 1960’s.  My story has changed.  As a nation we are in one helluva mess… a grand funk (no, not the “Railroad”).

Now, to present a bit of balance here, I am saying we are in a national deep funk, but we could be far, far worse.  Although, to that point, I don’t think at all we’ve seen the worst of all this yet.  What’s changed my outlook to surrender my normal optimism to some doom & gloom scenario?  Let’s take a walk down this road together.  Keep in mind here that the “funkiness” I am referring to is not a singular event or condition.  Rather it’s a cumulative effect of all this occurring at this point in time forcing the impetus of change, wanted or or unwanted, across the entire country.  We, as a nation, are swirling around the black hole drain and descending with each revolution deeper into it… or so it would seem.

So.. where am I going with all this glorious and encouraging display of optimism?  Therapists say you have to hit bottom before you can rise back up from the ashes.  There are 350 million people in this nation and that means 350 million different.. um… bottoms.  I haven’t hit my bottom yet (hard to reach at my age).  But others have.  I mean.. others haven’t hit my bottom, specifically… ah.. nevermind.  This meandering is becoming endless if not fruitless.  Butt..  oops.. I mean.. but here’s my whole theme of this post.  Most of our issues as a nation are pretty much caused by our own foibles and human diversities.. but we are also being hit by outside events.  Specifically, nature seems a bit ticked off, you would think, given the serious record breaking storms.. and then imposing a determined virus onto humanity.  Simply look at Louisiana.. smacked at both ends of nature’s wrath.  You would think that something Biblical was unfolding upon the Earth.  Maybe it is… but I have to think if some higher power was intentionally at work here it might be a little more effective to twitch the nose or blink the eye to make it all start over.

Any number of things are happening not only in America but all over the world, that we frankly have little control over, or, the control we think we have over it is marginal at best.  It appears all our dilemmas can be brought down to these areas… disease, global warming, and man simply unable to get along with his fellow man, much less nature.  Just name your calamity…

Global warming… extreme weather changes, record breaking storms, draughts, no end in sight.. and we can’t even agree if man caused it or it’s just nature in flux.

Then you have the great continental divide that is our politics.  Racial and economic inequality.  What’s left of the Afghanistan debacle, our changing population demographics brought to life by the recent census data, feeding white racism.  Buildings collapsing, aging infrastructure… growing racial animosity at a time when no one claims to be racist.  Immigration laws have failed, at the same time the laws haven’t failed but rather the Southern border is the road to freedom for so many refugees from the failed politics of other countries. Right is wrong, wrong is right, and that’s just how we have reacted to the pandemic alone.  News is all fake unless it’s true.  On one end people are dying and we bust our butts to save them, at the same time on the other end people are ignored and left to flounder in favor of political freedoms.  No one is compromising and that essence of democracy has faded for more authoritarian.. and evangelical.. ideologies.  We have become the nation where all citizens are patriotic but NO ONE displays it.

Sadly, I have no answers nor would anyone listen even if I did.  All I can offer is that time does tend to allow the proverbial pendulum of change to swing back to a more moderate moment. That, and staying involved in life and the processes that regulate our government.

Just do your best to survive through the changes.. or events.  Do your best to imagine the possible threats to immediate survival.  You see a flux in the politics, social behaviors, effects of the pandemic… be wary of events that could trigger delays in the normal distribution system.  Something that keeps the truckers from trucking.  Things like Illness, government mandates, fuel prices, fuel shortages (caused by weather in other areas of the country, or some other reason), strange politics, civil unrest.  If you sense something then consider making that extra, unscheduled trip to the store to stock up on items to hold you over.  Keep in mind all the situations that could cause the electric or the internet to stop.  Trucks will not function without electricity and/or the Internet.  Less items that need refrigeration.  Louisiana is a perfect example of catastrophic electrical outage not being fixed for weeks and maybe months.  Go figure, the Northeast is presently suffering from record floods from the remains of Hurricane Ida that devastated Louisiana.  The Southwest, where I presently reside, is suffering from a severe record drought.. not to mention forest fires.  I’m still considering relocating to someplace with more lakes to provide fresh water in the event I had to boil that stuff on my own for drinking.  We are slowly being consumed by our own human vanity.. and nature’s response to that.

I’m not being alarmist… just suggesting to all to keep one eye open and an ear up to the signs of change.  I’m not suggesting that everyone convert to being a hard-core  “survivalist-prepper”.  So far the various calamities befalling the nation have returned to some level of civil normalcy over time.  I am suggesting making sure you are prepared for those short “stoppages”.  The villain in all this is NOT just the next guy with the idiotic political opinions.. it’s all of us.

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