Thursday, January 8, 2009

Dysfunction Junction

I suspect we, here in this little corner of the Earth, only think we have it bad. When I watch TV news or read the international pages of newspapers, be it Oceania, the Middle East, Asia Minor or the Horn of Africa, the house is rocking with domestic problems. This is NOT to say we're living the Life of Reilly on Easy Street, because many of us aren't. But..... in comparison to large numbers of fellow travelers on this big, blue marble, our bad days are thrice as good as their great ones. I'm not sure how to make the average work out better for all of us.

I mention this because in recent days, I've been assaulted by articles, features and reports about protests/demonstrations/boycotts and/or letters to the editor/editorials in newspapers ranting about all levels of governmental mischief and malice in our country and parcelling out the blame for (insert one, or more of the following troubles, here): the price of fuel, the cost of credit, the collapse of the home mortgage market, a municipal property assessment, an especially heinous criminal action, an ignorant corporate blunder, the destruction of the environment, the ruination of our standard of living, 'those people' (whoever 'those people' are this week), Wall Street, Main Street, Sesame Street (does Big Bird have a 1-Hb visa?), the about to be former President, the soon-to-be next President and list goes on forever.

For those elsewhere in the world whose lives are shaped, to the point of warped, by disease, war, hunger and/or natural catastrophe, the level of angry, hysterical invective we hurl at one another in our search for the guilty as if it that were part of the solution might be amusing if only they didn't have to struggle so hard to just stay alive.

I'm chagrined as to how much of all of this head noise is coming from my generational cohort. I, like so many, went to Woodstock, and unlike a former Chief Executive, did inhale and did turn on, tune in and drop out. Then I started shaving on a regular basis and wearing long pants--I think Paul (though not Paul of Peter, Paul and Mary) speaks of it in a letter from camp (?), "when I was a child, I spoke like a child and thought like a child."

Many of the rest of us in the commune stayed with Uncle Max, I guess, on his farm. And raised spitting images of ourselves who think because they wear Earth Shoes, eat Tofu and drive Volvos, their piece of the world is supposed to be safe and saved automatically. In fairness, I should also concede many who don't have the shoes, eat the grub or drive a different car still have this 'it can't happen here' mindset.

Each of us points long, index fingers at the inept and the incompetent, when we're not extending a rigid, middle digit in a universally understood gesture of contempt and disdain. We've long since forgotten that three of the fingers on that hand are pointing back to ourselves, which is just as well because we're victims, not villains! We meant well-the trouble is in the doing! We've thought about this (whichever 'this' is the flavor of the week) and we agree--everything is someone else's fault.

We love the play and have memorized all the lines. Don't look behind the curtain. Broken adults who have bred broken children who, each in our own way, continue to misalign the world to better match our own own prejudices and biases (all the while denying we have any but clearly seeing them in everyone else). It needs to stop and we need to do it. We did this to ourselves and to each other and the only way we can save ourselves is to save everyone. Being good and doing good are the reasons we are here-we've slept through so much. We need to awaken and begin again.

-bill kenny

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