November 17, 2012
Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold …W. B. Yeats, The Second Coming
Thursday morning, I woke from a dream. In the dream, a young man with a knapsack on his back stood at my side door; I understood it was his “bug-out bag”. He turned to me as I opened the door, and said, “Come on. It’s time to go.” I thought it rather strange at the time since, if the world goes belly-up in the near future, I have every intention of “bugging-in” rather than bugging out.
Nor do I believe in “prophetic” dreams. I do believe , however, that our dual brain picks up on events that we read about or see around us, runs them through the logical left brain and, if we still cannot make sense of them, shuffles them off to the right brain for a more intuitive analysis – often resulting in an Aha moment or, perhaps in my current case, a warning dream.
Certainly, even a cursory reading of the headlines across the major newspapers or internet sites gives us all pause. Here in the U.S., the east coast still reels from the effects of Hurricane Sandy. Even in this cooler weather, much of the country still struggles with drought. And this past week, one of the weather services forecast winter tornadoes across Arkansas in the coming months.
Even after the re-election of President Obama, the government struggles with a litany of woes: the fiscal cliff, the deaths of our ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi, the Petraeus/Broadwell/Allen/Kelley affair. And Ben Bernanke has warned us, this week, that housing is still not out of the woods.
Over the past few days, headlines from around the world indicate that anti-austerity riots blossomed across Europe as that group of nations slid into the second recession in three years. In the midst of Japan’s own recession, the Prime Minister has dissolved the lower house of Parliament, leading to elections in mid-December and the possibility of a seventh PM in six and one half years. Xi Jinping has been selected to succeed Hu Jintao as leader of China, a country whose huge economy is itself slowing down.
In the Middle East and North Africa – still fragile from the Arab spring – the IAEA has said that Iran continues full speed ahead on it nuclear enrichment program, in spite of crushing sanctions. The civil war in Syria drags on and occasionally spills over into Turkey, Lebanon and Israel. There are increasing demands in Jordan for its king to step down. And into all this dry tinder, Israel and Hamas have now stepped up – one sprinkling gasoline while the other strikes the match.
Along these major fault lines, the earth bulges in numerous places. President Obama will no more be able to stop the coming quakes than he could the 6.8 earthquake in Myanmar last night ahead of his scheduled visit there. Nor could Romney, had he been elected, instead. Nor can Netanyahu of Israel, the leaders of Hamas in Gaza, Morsi in Egypt, the various leaders of the European countries or the redoubtable Elizabeth, Queen of England, for that matter. The gyre widens. The falcon cannot hear the falconer.
One cannot say, while it’s happening, how things fall apart or whether that center will hold. Whether an earthquake of anarchy or the blood-dimmed tide will be loosed. One only senses that, the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.
Perhaps it will not be an earthquake along these major fault-lines at all. Perhaps it will be one of the thousands of small, sometimes vicious daily assaults to we ordinary humans around the world that build pressure points. The closing of the Hostess Company, with the end of its magic Twinkies and the loss of 18,500 jobs. The 160,000 jobs over the last year slated for cutting by the big banks in Europe, Asia and the U.S.; angry workers at UBS over 10,000 job cuts; Bank of America’s plan to cut 16,000 jobs by year’s end. The drop in business confidence – 14% last month, 6% this month. The headline that Kmart’s days might be numbered as Sears’ profits drop. The news that 20,000 people applied for 1,500 attendants jobs at American Airline the other day.
The people of Florida have moved to impeach their governor, Rick Scott. Nineteen states have filed internet petitions to secede from the Union since the re-election of President Obama. A young man, off his medications, has been arrested not seventy miles from where I live here in southwest Missouri for plotting to carry out a massacre at a local showing of the Twilight movie. A bus-train collision in Egypt, a country known for its poor and dangerous railway system, killed 47 children, ages three to seven years old, yesterday. A new gulf oil rig explosion off the coast of Louisiana two day ago killed two with two more still missing, though it was not producing oil at the time. Walmart has filed charges with the NLRB against a union it says is provoking the growing demonstrations by employees over its “black Thursday” policy. A bizarre flurry of incidents by ordinary conservatives has occurred since President Obama’s re-election – including the briefing hosted by GOP legislators in Georgia on a mind-control plot by President Obama to turn us over to the UN, using the UN’s Agenda 21. And hundreds of assaults, big and small, are enacted daily by governments around the world on people simply exercising their right to disagree with their governments’ policies.
These pressure points are not unlike the rumbling of thunder preceding the Paracutin volcano that burst forth over a day or two in a Mexican cornfield back in 1943 and, over the course of its nine-year history, buried at least two villages in its lava flow.
It is the case that sometimes our bicameral minds play tricks on us in their struggle to interpret the world around us. Perhaps my dream was such a trick. I only know that it caused me to move around some things in next month’s budget to buy a few more food items for the upcoming winter, to run through the preparations I’ve made one more time and to consider what my neighbors and I could do in case something goes terribly wrong.
The dream may be telling me nothing. Or it may be warning me that, as too many of us sense lately, that rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches toward Bethlehem to be born.