November 23, 2013
This has been one of those weeks when I felt like banging my head against the wall until all the pain stopped. The gloom, rain and cold set the stage for it, I suppose. But it went so far beyond mere physical discomfort, I couldn’t seem to put it into words.
Maybe it was the week-long buildup to the fiftieth anniversary of the JFK assassination and the sense, looking back, that the assassination was the first blow in the long and merciless death of youthful idealism in this country, the first ratcheting down of the thumb screws on the belief that a nation which could send a man to the moon could also guarantee civil rights and a way out of poverty for all its citizens – indeed, for all citizens of this global community – and that we were, indeed, our brothers’ keepers.
Maybe it’s the slow rot of the “greed is good, I’ve got mine, get yours while you can and to hell with those that can’t” mentality that has taken the place of those ideals over the last fifty years and let the wants of a few run roughshod over the needs of the many.
Perhaps it is the stream of stories about melting starfish, dead dolphins, poisoned bees, fungus-infected bats, over-heating oceans, dying forests, melting ice sheets, stripped soil – the constant hacking away at the chain of life by the one species which promised to be cognizant of his place in that chain, but turned out to be too stupid to understand that breaking free from that chain of life heralds his own death as a species.
Perhaps it’s the juxtaposition of the pictures from the battered Philippines with the “same old, same old” attitudes at the latest climate change conference, in Warsaw, topped off by Secretary of Defense Hagel’s obscene speech in Halifax, Nova Scotia, this week (http://www.defense.gov/speeches/speech.aspx?speechid=1821 ) where he outlined the Military’s new Arctic policy – ending with, “We remember the words of explorer Frederick Cook. After many attempts to discover the North Pole – and after believing he had found it – he wrote: “It occurred to me … that, after all, the only work worthwhile, the only value of a human being’s efforts, lie in deeds whereby humanity benefits.” That is why we look to the Arctic – this new frontier – to help make a better world for all mankind.”
Perhaps it’s the juxtaposition of all of the above with my turning seventy-three, yesterday, that makes me want to grab the nearest numb-nuts by the lapels, smack him across the face a couple of time and scream until his ears ring, “ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME? WAKE UP!”
The sun comes out for a moment. Though I am still aware, as always, that the end of the world as we know it will suck big time, I am not ready to close the door, draw the shades and turn out the lights on this one, known grand experiment of the universe. I take my joys where I can. We may bring about our own extinction, but Life? I don’t think so.
Life has always lived at the edges of chaos, fragile, yet surprisingly strong. If we survive, our lives will change drastically, but Life, I think, will not go gentle into that good night; neither would It rage, I suspect, against the dying of our light.