Sunday, February 24, 2008

Starless and Bible Black

I have regular interactions with a person whose sense of fair play has been set, seemingly (I fear) on outraged. He is able to develop a dark sense of unfairness and inequity from almost anything. For him, that it rains on the just and the unjust unlike isn't so much a truth/truism or cliché, but a scathing indictment of the rain wear industry. His is the type of passion that eventually wears the disinterested observer, me, completely out. I admire his energy in seeking out the next wrong to be righted but that's not what happens.

We came into one another's lives some time back and with any luck within the next few months, we'll both return to our normal places in the universe where we co-existed without having to acknowledge one another. I'll be happy when that happens-him, I'm not so sure about. To my way of thinking, I have a finite (and unknown (a critical part of the concept)) amount of time on this orb and must choose where to invest my time and talents. For me, my wife and children, in that order, are not only my first priority, but my first five to eight priorities. After that, I look at the piece of the planet I and they are standing on, and extend outward slightly, and do what I can, with the time I have at my disposal, to help in my neighborhood (definition somewhat fluid).

When I was a lot younger and had a lot more patience, I could more easily accommodate those who felt every waking moment should be spent signing petitions or organizing discussion groups on the great issues of our time. As I aged, not matured, I failed to see how any of that activity, frantic and frenetic as it is/was, helped anyone do anything. None of these folks seemed to help any of the objects of their concern because they were trapped in meetings on setting up a steering committee to draft a petition demanding assistance of agencies who, so far, and despite millions and billions of dollars, had accomplished nothing. Meaning well was substituted for doing well and at the ripe old age of almost fifty-six, I will have no more truck with that philosophy.

The America of the 21st Century seems, everyday, to grow more and more desperate for someone, somewhere, to rescue it....from a war in Southwest Asia whose beginnings we failed to fully appreciate ...from a health care system that provides the finest care known on the planet in the history of the planet (if you can afford it and close to fifty million people cannot)...for an employment environment where high schoolers head to either MIT or McDonald's with nothing in between not a debt, both national and personal, so crushing that our children's children's children will be impoverished by it.

And to all of this, we respond with a growing number of sincere people who feel being deeply concerned about an issue is the same thing as working to fix it. To take up arms against a sea of troubles and by thus opposing, end them has been elevated to a discussion point on the agenda for the next meeting-show of hands, all in favor? All opposed? The motion carries. And so do voices.

Perhaps we're reaching that point where we need to lower both our voices and our expectations since all we seem to be good at is disappointing one another. Since we've concluded it's too hard to do anything, we will not attempt to do something. And besides, Search For the Guilty certainly seems to be similar to Fix the Problem and there's so little mess to clean up.
And yet, we can't seem to forget (try as we might), when we point fingers, three fingers of the hand point back at ourselves. We want someone to be responsible for who and what we are, and as long as it's not us, movements that perpetuate the myth that personal responsibility is over rated will always be attractive. The fault, dear Brutus, lies NOT in the stars, but in ourselves.
-bill kenny

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