Friday, March 25, 2011

The Climate Change in Human Nature

"becoming unwrapped"

The words just spill out. Thought after thought after thought; going everywhere and nowhere. Solving nothing.

War. Disease. Unemployment. Crime. Climate Change. Disaster. Unrest. Political Upheaval. Hatred. Intolerance. All of it in our faces everywhere we turn.

People say they want less government intrusion, but I think what they really want is to stop footing the bill for some of the Rights we once called inalienable. Rename them entitlements, paint the face of recipients in dark eyeliner and give them a teenage sneer. Add a baby on an outthrust hip, and you, too, might be able to convince the world that access to health care and education and equal protections under the law were quaint, olden-day notions now made burdensome in a modern-day world.

Kindness costs. Keep saying how we can't afford it anymore, conveniently forgetting how caring in the beginning can save in the end. Keep spending millions in advertising to tell us "we're broke."

That's progress: Times change. Everything stays the same.

We may not be bound by wires anymore, but we're entangled in wireless. Vote. Don't vote. There's only two choices, and all they do is point fingers at each other. Online polls don't mean a thing, but we're happy to click the toggle button of our choice. It makes us feel vindicated. The results are immediate.

The more I try to make sense of it the more it seems to twist into something completely grotesque.

I'm not depressed, I tell myself. I'm just ... sad.

I know I shouldn't but I can't help but say it: "It all seems so pointless, really. The world isn't ever going to get any better."

Tears threaten to come as I think of my children, and the day they look around them and decide the world has lost its mooring. Will they be set off adrift?

Nothing is new. Not even this. Their childhood will be as carefree as mine was. Filled with happy memories of Christmases at home and summers by the sea. They will have disappointments. And they will pick themselves up and move on. There is no other choice. You pick a direction and go.

"Maybe you are depressed," she tells me with soft compassion.

"Or maybe I need to unplug. We all need to unplug."

But unplugging isn't the answer completely. Shutting out the outside world can't be done indefinitely. It would be like turning off the sun: sure, nothing would burn under its rays but in time there'd would be nothing left to burn.

That was yesterday when I was typing all of this out with a hammering intensity. I wasn't sure these words would ever see the back-lit glow of a computer monitor again as I committed it to the garbage dump of my drafts folder.

That's when I noticed a story from the San Francisco Chronicle about a neighborhood-spat over patio seating turned into a legal matter between a coffee shop owner and a resident who lived nearby.

The twist was that the resident, who'd sent icy, demanding messages to the shopkeeper, decided to go in person and apologize for being cold and overly harsh. Because of that small contrition, the two are working out their differences over coffee cups instead of in a court room. They are neighbors, after all.

It made me smile. It made me think there is hope. It made let go of some of the sadness I'd been holding.

And the feeling might have lasted for more than a moment ... had I not scrolled down to read the comments.


Sandra @ Albany Kid said...

Oh, jeez, that's exactly how I was feeling earlier this week about the state of education, getting ready to take up Don Quixote's lance. Before I had a chance to type it up & post, I came back to my senses. It's so easy to point out the negative, but I believe it's more helpful to offer positive messages.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

I feast on these happy stories like a starving dog tossed a morsel of food.

Politically, I think our country is in bad shape. BAD shape. Underneath all the rhetoric, I think people are basically good, but I worry about the future of us all if we continue to think of everything as an "us vs. them" fight.

Never That Easy said...

It's so worrisome, isn't it? But it's comforting to me that other people are worried too. Because sometimes you feel like the only person paying attention. So thanks for this post.