May 12, 2012
It’s wearing, this slow collapse. One morning, Europe is failing rapidly despite all that austerity. The next day, I read the European PTB have decided (at the behest of all those angry voters with their pitchforks and torches, I’m sure) austerity is now passé and growth is the new fix.
For almost a week, our stock markets slide downward at the news of what those angry European voters have wrought, then suddenly they’re continuing their upward trajectory – perhaps on the news that growth, like greed, is now good again. This week, it’s down again on some other whim. The economic news bounces around like a rubber ball from one statistic to the next.
The President, looking good as he officially opens his re-election campaign, comes out in favor of gay marriage and the next thing you know, the politicos are all wondering if he hasn’t cut his political throat. While Mr. Romney, who helped bully a gay boy when he was an errant teenager, can’t remember the incident, but apologizes anyway and those same politicos opine that he will probably not suffer any political consequences from the stunt, seeing as how he’s turned out to be such a fine young man in spite of his wayward teen years. Neither of them will be able to stop this slow collapse.
And, remember those big banks we bailed out and fixed with Dodd-Frank? Well, JPMorgan Chase – reputedly the best and the brightest – loses a couple of billion dollars and maybe more on credit default swaps this week, (sound familiar?) sending bank stocks down, down, down and leaving us all to wonder, again, what else those supposedly fixed and neutered banks might be up to that we don’t know about.
While, over in Israel, the clever Mr. Netanyahu – embroiled in calls for an early election – forms a coalition government with another group who would like to go to war with Iran. This, having foiled the calls for an early election, leaves our busy politicos to wonder if we’ll be dragged into war before the November elections and whether that might guarantee a Republican win – since they are, after all, the strong-on-defense party and would probably be more eager than Obama to follow Bibi right on into the fire, cheered on, no doubt, by patriotic and propagandized Americans everywhere.
Yes, slow collapse is wearing. I know, because over the last decade, as I pushed toward and entered my seventies, I’ve realized that I, too, am in a state of slow collapse. That circle of life we so liked to sing about a few years back, is closing in on me, just as it is closing in on the Empire. The difference is, I’ve admitted it and find the change of pace it brings rather refreshing.
No, I can’t stay out drinking and partying like I did in my twenties and then, get up and go to work on a few hours of sleep. I can’t be super mom, working and going to school full-time while raising a kid on my own, like I did in my thirties and forties. I can’t even shop ‘til I drop, like I briefly did in my fifties, after the kid was finally out on his own. These days, I’m ready to drop long before I’ve worked up the energy to shop, I really can’t afford it and I have all the “things” I could possibly need, anyway.
Truth be told, I can’t even deep clean the entire house and do three loads of laundry or go out and turn over the garden in one day and plant it the next, as I still could well into my sixties. You know what? That’s okay. I’m getting old. I need to pace myself if I’m going to stay self-sufficient into my old age.
So it is with aging empires, well into their own collapse. Which made me think, this past week that, as we older people often do, maybe I ought to offer the Empire some unsolicited advice. So, here it is.
You can’t run around all hours of the day and night, partying with dictators and toppling other countries’ governments as you did when you were in your twenties. It’s unbecoming an empire of your age and your just wasting precious energy you don’t have anymore.
Quit trying to play Father Knows Best to the world’s errant children like you did in your thirties. They’ve grown up, now, and want to live their own lives. It makes you look bullying and needy at the same time and the kids are apt to get tired of it and walk away, just when you find you need them the most.
Stop the game of shop-‘til-you-drop that you started in your fifties when you thought the kids were grown and going to be out on their own forever. You’ve bankrupted your retirement fund, the kids have moved back home and you’re behind on the mortgage, again.
You sped through your sixties and hit the brick wall a few years back, trying to do it all in one day. Now the house is a wreck, the yard is full of trash, the utility company has threatened a shut-off, the kids are ready to throw you out and the bankers are just hankering for one more missed payment before they foreclose on you and leave you homeless and broke.
Face it. You’re not a kid anymore. You’re an old geezer of an Empire, gray and balding with a paunch, wrinkles and nose hairs. If you don’t get your act together, pull back and learn to pace yourself, there’s just no way you’re going to have even a modicum of self-sufficiency in your old age.
Well, that’s my advice, though I know you probably won’t listen. It won’t save you from the whole, inevitable collapse – that circle of life thingy, you know – but it might just let you live out the rest of your life with a little dignity. And I think you’ll find it’s not nearly so wearing.