Something To Think About …

Since becoming largely disabled due to a heart condition in early September, one of the things I have been able to do is spend more time reading!  Way back in the day, I used to read 3-4 books of an average 450 pages each, every week.  But then … I began blogging, Donald Trump came on the scene, the clowns took over the country, and my days and nights were suddenly filled with trolling the news and writing 2-3 blog posts every day.  Reading for pleasure took a backseat and I was lucky to read 100 pages a week.  But now, being unable to leave my chair for more than a few minutes at a time, I am once again a voracious reader and have read, on average, 6-7 books every week.

One of the topics that is near and dear to my heart is September 11, 2001.  When I became ill in early September, I had just started working on a 20-year-anniversary post, but never managed to finish it.  I don’t know that I ever will, but among the books I have read over the past three months are a couple of 9/11 books, the most recent being “The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11” by Garrett M. Graff.  This book is composed of thousands of personal accounts of that day, from the North and South towers to the Pentagon to the field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania where flight 93 was brought down by passengers determined to fight back against the hijackers.

As I read those personal accounts of people … thousands of people … firefighters, police officers, government workers and civilians … risking and often losing their own lives in their attempt to help people, I couldn’t help thinking of this country today, some 20 years later.  What a difference!!!

When I was working on my master’s degree, I worked for a professor of Political Science, the late Dr. Joseph Scolnick, at the University of Virginia.  I well remember one paper I helped him research that proposed the most effective way to bring about cohesion within a divided nation was an external threat.  Throughout history, some countries have even manufactured external threats in order to bring their citizenry together.  We saw a prime example of how an external threat brought people together with our own eyes in the hours and days after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 when people went out of their way, out of their comfort zone, even in one case buying a brand-new truck and donating it to the rescue efforts!  Shop owners opened their doors and their hearts to the injured, the displaced, and the traumatized.  There were no strangers on that day.  And I wonder …

With the current level of divisiveness in this country today, largely magnified and enhanced by the former guy and his puppets, if we suffered a similar attack, would we rise to the occasion as we did on September 11, 2001?  Or would we remain so politically divided that each side would point the fingers of blame at the other?  Would racism, religious differences and ideological divides keep us from coming together in the interest of humanity?  Would a Republican risk his life to run into a burning building to carry a Democrat out?  Would we, the average people in this nation, pitch in to help in any way we could, or would we find ways to attack and denigrate one group or another?

I have no answers for those questions.  I like to believe that we would, once again, rally to the cause, come together as humans, setting aside our differences, but I find it difficult to believe most days when I see the pure hatred between ethnicities, religions, and political parties.  A year and a half ago, when COVID first hit the U.S. hard, I thought this would be the thing that brought this nation together, the enemy we could all join hands and fight against.  Instead, the pandemic has further divided us over such things as masks, social distancing, legislation, and vaccines.  Even after more than 818,000 deaths in the U.S. alone, we cannot all agree to do what is necessary to protect both ourselves and others, so why would I think we would rush into a burning building to save a stranger?

As I said, I have no answers, but I ask only that you … think about it.

62 thoughts on “Something To Think About …

  1. Unfortunately I think it would be much different this time around if a 9-11 type event happened now. Since 9-11, we have seen not only the insidious and dangerous rise of trump and his cult, but the rise of religious extremism, and the era of unbelievable conspiracy theories, the influence of far right media outlets, growth of greed among many of the super wealthy, the blind hatred of minorities..all minorities and the will of the democrats lost or compromised, in working hard to make trump, his vile republican supporters in Congress and the insurrectionists truly held accountable.
    I have some heart issues too,so I sure can sympathize with you. And as we age, we must try to reduce stress in our lives, but it seems more difficult to do. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sadly, I share your views that we would not see the same ‘coming together’ that we saw 20 years ago. You’re so right about religious extremism … I am not religious, as you know, but I know enough to know that the so-called evangelical ‘Christians’ are interpreting the bible and its intent completely different than most Christians I know! What happened to peace, love and tolerance??? No, now it’s all about guns, white supremacy, bigotry and hatred.

      Reducing stress … how I’d love to be able to do that, but … the state of our nation makes it impossible, doesn’t it? Still, I’d rather go down fighting than live in a bubble. You take care too, and a happy holiday to you, Mary!

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  2. Jill, I’m trying to catch up on blogging and blogging friends. So sorry about your heart condition…now I understand more fully why you always chastised me about my love affair with bacon. Many of my ‘acquaintances’ see a full-scale civil war as the only answer. Maybe, maybe not. I refuse to accept that outcome. Others encourage less freedom for the oppressed to which I answer absolutely not, we have come too far to go back to those days. So, all I can do is stay on top of what’s happening and hold my truths as self-evident, never to be compromised-so help me God until death takes me outta here. Love ya, stay healthy.

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    • It’s so good to see you, Larry! I noticed that you hadn’t been blogging much lately and hoped that you were well, just taking a break. Yes, I natter about too much bacon, but in truth I love nothing better than an ultra-crisp (almost blackened) piece (or three) of bacon!

      I don’t know what the future holds for this country, but a full-scale civil war is unlikely, for there are no boundaries, no lines of demarcation. Both sides may live side by side on the same street and a civil war … it’s unthinkable how it might play out. I joke about sending all the Republicans south of the Mason-Dixon, but the reality is that the divisions go far beyond geographical lines. I’m most concerned at the moment about the thus far successful attempts to stifle our voting rights, for that is our only voice in what happens to this nation. Sigh.

      Love ya back, my friend, and I hope you are well!

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  3. Hi Jill.
    Here I am working backwards on ‘Reader’ and happier to see another post from you.
    9/11 was arguably the first massive modern attack by a ‘foreign power’ (al-Qqeda was big enough in influence and resources to count) upon the USA (leaving out the War of 1812 and Mexican raids in the early 20th century). As we all recall it had a tremendous shock value as well as loss of life. Folk shared that.
    Sadly, very soon the shock wears off. The racists crawl from under their stones looking for any excuse. The fevered wing of the Evangelicals go looking for selective biblical quotes to further their cause, proving 9/11 was….whatever they wanted it to be. And of course there were the Conspiracy Crew who in their rush to prove ‘they know something we don’t know’ and irrespective of their political wing did more foster distrust and make possible such creatures as Infowars chief effluent, the odious Cruz and of course the Arch-Idiot Trump to actually be credible.
    What was for an instant unifying became ammunition for every snake-oil merchant and previously unknown wannabe in their rush for a slice of fame; and of course there came the kick back from those who found the negativity vile.
    Meanwhile there was a government reaction; there is always a government reaction, and no it’s not just the USA, spare me that trope. As is often the case bad decisions were taken, strategies were flawed and only the irregulars and fundamentalists won, because the wars were fought on their home turf
    Meanwhile in the US what had been simmering as The Culture Wars from the late 1970s onwards began to take on brush fire and then forest fire proportions. There was anger piled on anger. No one wants to admit that folk with box cutters found a way through a ragged security system and no one wants to admit that thousands of Americans were killed or injured in another Vietnam.
    There are still good folk doing their best, there are still those who will rush to a danger to save others. They are always there.
    But the Opportunists are always there too, and their followers. Or maybe it’s the other way around now.

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    • So good to see you, Roger! As always, you have an astute comprehension of the workings of the collective mind of society and I cannot argue with anything you say here. I do wonder, though, how this ends … do we find a way to resolve our differences peacefully or do we end up killing each other rather than learn to compromise? Sigh.

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      • Thanks again Jill for your kind words.
        I’m thinking the answer comes in two parts:
        1. In the foreseeable future we will continue along the same old path of killing each other, because we always have done. Beyond those words you get into all sorts of ethical issues over cause and effect and I can get myself in a lot of trouble.
        2. If you take the long view along a very, very Big Picture then it can be argued (I do anyway) that what we have is a question of Evolution.
        As living creatures our ingenuity is out of step with the instinct to preserve ‘our patch’ (that’s in all living creatures- fish, birds, insects mammals etc, they all follow that urge). Our problem is we use all manner of ‘tools’ and have not developed the restraint which should come with our technological advances.
        There is the challenge, or the Evolutionary issue; if we do not embrace the obvious that conflict between Humans with their capacity for inventive weaponry threatens our existence as species, then we die out or decline into nothingness, by our own hands.
        Our very presence is now classed as a planetary wide Extinction Event
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extinction_event
        Thus, unless we evolve…. Well…
        Pfffft…smear on the fossil record, and Life moves on…Life always moves on.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extremophile
        Some can rage, trot out ‘snowflake’ ‘woke’ ‘tree-hugger’ blah-blah-blah as much as they like. That won’t stop anything. Life has been around a long time…us…not so much. Not aliens, conspiracies etc here…just Life and the Planet moving on.
        That’s how it goes kids.

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  4. Excellent book and post…YOU have not lost your touch!! During the not so good times there were several quotes that I used to help keep me focused : “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” – William Arthur Ward. I like to believe that I remain that realist but I am having difficulty adjusting those sails to meet today’s winds. Thank-you!

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    • Awwwww … thank you so much, dear Ellen!!! You’ve made me smile tonight! I do like Ward’s quote … fitting for these times! I’m a combination between a pessimist and a realist by his definition, though there was a time that I was considered a “Pollyana”, an extremely optimistic person. Whatever happened to change my outlook? Sigh. WHAK!!!

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      • Contrary indeed. 🙂 Someone on a discussion panel said something along the lines of ‘we have never been better off or more free, yet we seem determined to paint ourselves as victims. As the oppressed.’ Not a direct quote but you get the gist. We’re a weird mob.
        Love ‘n hugs to you too, Jill. And please! Look after your health this time, okay?

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  5. during the big freeze here in Texas last February, people pulled together to help out their fellow humans, so, yes, it’s possible to overcome division. so many people willingly fall for the big lie that we are irredeemably divided. I wish you a merry Christmas and continued recovery.

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    • Yes, I do recall reading stories of humanity during that time, and it does give us hope for someday seeing a better world. However, it is no lie that we are devastatingly divided in this nation today. Thank you, Scott, and a very Merry Christmas to you, your wife, and the kids!

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  6. I read an article not long ago that said the period after WWII was a period of unusual unity in the U.S., and that by enjoying that extended period, we came to think of that as ‘the norm’, which was an illusion. Part of this was probably fed by the nuclear threat posed by the USSR.

    But coming together, even for war, would be difficult. Too many of us have too many memories of how the government lied to the people in order for us to unite easily over war again. (Need examples?) The external attack will unite us, but it’ll be a bandage because we still have underlying differences about basic matters. Should women be working? What’s the role of God and religion in the U.S.? Are Blacks and white — and others — equal? What about taxes and wealth inequality, poverty, and abortion? Shall we discuss the Second Amendment?

    But —

    Now to unleash the optimistic side. Yes, we will be united again. Because we had a refreshing and invigorating period of unity. We developed a taste for that, and we liked it. Some are pushing to go back to what we were before then, but to give power to politicians to make that happen, they’re applying pretzel logic. As education and knowledge grows, so will resistance to such logic.

    Although —

    The heart of it all is education. The Blue States know this. So do the Red States. In Blue States, we’re amazed at how the GOP are willing to handicap their people in order to maintain power. That, in itself, doesn’t seem sustainable to my simple mind. The rise to the bottom will end up in a crash. From it, those states will be forced to face truths and rebuild.

    And —

    The Democrats have not always been the party they now are. Neither is the GOP. Not all in the GOP like what they see. So many variables are out there. My wife fears that the nation is falling apart, and we will not survive this rending of our national fabric.

    But I’m an optimist. A situation will take place or a leader will rise that will change the way things are going. Let’s call this mutant, The Mule… (Hope you know your Asimov.)

    I like to take a longer view of the world. There was a time before the U.S. Constitution. Before the Declaration of Independence. Before the Magna Carta. The rights and freedoms enjoyed by many didn’t exist centuries ago. Nor did the technology (like social media). Or the threats (like social media). These drive growing pains. We will grow and unite, but damn if it won’t be painful.

    Sorry to be so wordy today. Hope you mend more. I always enjoy your posts, and I need pleasure like that. It’s like a drug, you know. Like coffee.

    Cheers and hugs

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    • I tend to agree with you, Michael … the things that we are divided about today seem insurmountable and any threat that might unify us would be only a bandaid … once the threat ended, we would almost certainly take sides on the issues you mention, such as race, religion, rights and equality. Today, a large part of this nation, though certainly not the majority, worship wealth even when they are the very ones being hurt by those who hold some 95% of the wealth of the nation.

      As re your thoughts on education … there is currently a great push to re-write the nation’s history, to deny the parts that some find offensive. Add to that the fact that for a decade or so now, our education system has omitted much of the curriculum that teaches students to actually think for themselves, that prepares them for life, and focuses more on technology. The goal, it seems to me, is to ensure that the average family is disqualified from becoming decision makers, leaving only the wealthy who had different educational opportunities to become corporate CEOs, lawmakers and such.

      I’m so glad you remain an optimist. I was until a few short years ago, but seeing the masses support a cruel and evil dictator such as Trump has changed my outlook … a lot.

      You’ve made me smile with your final thoughts, my friend! Thank you! I am very slowly … frustratingly so … regaining just a bit of strength and energy and am hoping to eventually get back to being able to stand for more than five minutes, or climb the 15 stairs all at once instead of having to stop on the 8th step for a break! Hugs ‘n cheers, dear friend!

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  7. It is so good to have to feeling able to write again but it is detrimental to the health of all caring souls to see the continuing breakdown of a loving majority. By installing such immature, petty and self absorbed adolescent natured individuals into offices of prestige and power, that orange haired moron sealed the fate of American democracy. No, I will never stop fighting or give up hope, but too many people have. And when too much of society depends on their education and moral standards to come through social media it is like watching all things wonderful being swept out to a lonely sea of despair. Hugs my friend. Be well and think of yourself too. ❤️

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    • Sounds like you need a bit of support for yourself, dweezer. Yes, the world may be coming down around us, but I think individually we all have to keep going foreward as best we can. The more we can keep our minispheres sane, the harder it will make the megaspheres to collapse. Not always easy, yet somehow necessary, don’t you think?

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    • As Thomas Paine wrote … “These are the times that try men’s souls; the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.” Those of us with compassion, with a conscience, with a brain, must continue to fight the current efforts by bigots and racists to ‘divide and conquer’ this nation. It IS stressful and detrimental to our well-being, but really, there is no choice but to keep on fighting as long as we take a breath. Big hugs to you also, my friend!

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  8. So good to see you’re well enough to write Jill. That’s a good thing! But your overall point about how divided we’ve become, I could not agree more. What this pandemic has showed us is that we just don’t seem to give a rat’s you know what about each other anymore. I blame so much of it on the aforementioned former guy. I’d like to point out that our current president rushed to the side of Kentucky and got the aid they needed quickly. Even the turtle senator thanked him for it. He’ll be there tomorrow to witness the disaster. Something tells me he won’t be tossing paper towels to the people, like you know who did. Which makes me very happy to know that we have an actual human being in office who gives a damn. Do we realize, as a nation, the nightmare we had for four years prior? At least humanity and humility are back in the White House. Something to be proud of Jill.

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    • Thanks, Jeff! I’m trying to climb back up into that saddle … baby steps, yes?

      I agree with you … for the most part, it seems the people of this country don’t care about their fellow humans else they wouldn’t be refusing to avoid crowds, wear a mask, and get a simple vaccination in order to protect themselves and others. They wouldn’t be applauding an attempted coup that took the lives of a number of people including police officers. And they would NOT be supporting a monster for president in 2024. I keep hoping that common sense will kick in, but I’m rapidly losing hope. Sigh.

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  9. I’m with rawgod … good to finally know the core of your health problems. One’s imagination can get carried away at times. 😊

    As for the topic … Great Post! And yes, one can’t help but wonder how united we “states” would be should we face a similar attack. I want to think we would come together, but the pure hatred that seems to emanate from many does make one wonder. And as silverapplequeen suggested, how long would it last?

    P.S. I hear you about the book reading. The pull of the internet is awfully strong …

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    • I’m sorry, Nan … I thought everyone was already aware of my health problems! There were numerous ones for a while, including heart, lung and kidney issues, but now I think we are down to just the heart and frankly, healthcare in the U.S. is horrible and I am not able to get the care I need! Nonetheless, I am a stubborn wench and am getting a little bit stronger despite it all!

      I think that anyone who stays on top of actual fact-based news would ask the same questions you and I are asking. I often think the next major threat to this country will come from within, from those who follow the former guy and Fox “News” and believe every word they hear there. Heck, it almost happened on January 6th.

      Yep, one can get lost in the internet and blow 5-6 hours without even realizing it! I still troll the news, but I don’t read too many blogs right now and don’t follow every link that beckons me. Frankly, it all tires me too much!

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  10. Good to see you back again Jill. Having chemotherapy has given me just a tiny inkling into what life is like for anyone disabled or with chronic conditions – and I get a break at the end of each cycle to rush around doing things. When we are leading busy lives we might fantasise about being invalid Victorian ladies lying on the sofa with nothing to do but read! Carry on enjoying your reading and best wishes for Christmas with your girls doing all the cooking.

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    • Thank you, my friend! I am so sorry to hear you have been going through chemo … I wasn’t aware of that. I do hope it is effective and that you and I both have a better year next year! Merry Christmas to you and yours!

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  11. Hmmm…I think the first responders can, and have, rushed to the aid of others even today to try and save the lives of strangers.

    Though, like you, I was hoping that the external enemy of COVID would be more of a unifying force. But I think having a leader who by nature is divisive didn’t help.

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    • Oh definitely! The first responders will always do what they do, but my concern is more with the average Joe, the guy who refuses to even don a mask to protect himself, his children, and others. We are backsliding on issues of racism, gender equality, income equality and more, and I’m not convinced that in a crisis people would be willing to set aside those differences for the greater good. I hope I’m wrong.

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  12. I hope you are, all right, coping with your heart condition, and, glad that you are, somewhat, slowing down the paces, that you get a chance to, observe, be more, tentative, about all that is, going on in your, surrounding environment, hope you get well soon.

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    • Just curious, tig, do you put all those commas in your writing? Or are you using a vocoder, and it puts in a comma every time you pause to breathe, or otherwise hesitate? I like reading your comments, but all the punctuation makes it difficult. I thought it was time to ask.

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    • Thank you! I have always been an active and impatient person, so slowing down to a crawl has been difficult and depressing for me, but I’m learning to appreciate the smallest steps forward!

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  13. We were much MORE divided in 2001 than what was reported. & we are much LESS divided today than what is being reported.

    It is in the MSM’s interest to report the country as “divided” or “united” … 9/11 is just another mythology which propels these “divided” & “united” myths.

    Who benefits from these myths? That’s the big question. It isn’t we, the people.

    As someone who grew up in the 1960s, I don’t remember a time when this country wasn’t divided. Yeah, there’s certain events that will bring us “together” …. for a day, a week, two weeks tops. But that’s it. & even that “togetherness” is an illusion … like the buzz you get when you drink with a bunch of people at a wedding or a sporting event & you all have the same great feeling. It doesn’t last, it’s not supposed to last. & there’s almost always a hangover.

    I think everyone makes too much of this “divided” country thing. It seems like the status quo to me & I’m sixty-one years old.

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    • Born in 1949, saq. Americans may have been divided in the 60s, but they at least seemed to be working together. There was racism, a lot of it, and religious persecution, but barriers were coming down. There was a sense of progress, a “zeitgeist,” one might say. People were at least “coming together”! That no longer seems to be happening. I wish you were right, but I do not think you are. Everything is out in the open now. People are being more honest, showing their true colours. And the sense of progress towards togetherness has been totally destroyed. As an outsider (non-American), I don’t use rose-coloured glasses. Rome fell. America is imploding, rapidly!

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  14. Pingback: Something To Think About … | Ramblings of an Occupy Liberal

  15. I wish I knew the answer too but, as you say, the clues are there in the pandemic response. Hopefully there never will be another 9/11 anyway, to test this out. If you haven’t read it I can recommend Jim DeFede’s book, The Day The World Came To Town, about the small town of Gander in Newfoundland which had many airplanes diverted there. It’s a good account of how a community comes together.

    I’m sorry to hear how unwell you have been, but I think we all kind of sensed this. Take good care of yourself – it’s good to see you writing again.

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    • Thanks Clive! Yes, there was a point where I was pretty sure I wouldn’t wake up one morning, but here I am … still hanging on! I think that another 9/11 is not a matter of ‘if’, but rather ‘when’. The other strong possibility is an attack from within, which after the events of January 6th, isn’t such a far-fetched idea. I downloaded and started reading DeFede’s book per your recommendation today! Thanks, Clive!

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    • No worries and no reason to apologize, Michael! I’m really sorry to hear that you think things in Germany are not as they should be … I’m interested to hear more! I hope you are doing well, though, and I will try to provide you with some fun music soon to help you drive your neighbors a bit nuts! 😉 xx

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  16. At last, a bit of a share. It was a scare not knowing.
    People are coming together in the wake of the tornadoes, which kinda fits the bill of an external enemy. But by and large, I think America’s goose is cooked. Half the population seems to want Putin to interfere in your elections again, and that does not bode well for a togetherness party. Putin paid Trump to divide Americans, and Trump succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. Had he been elected, Russia would have been welcomed back into the “G 8” again, despite most nations not wanting them there. This may happen yet in 2024, given all the disenfranchisements going on. All it takes is one broken ego!

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    • You’re so right about the aftermath of the tornadoes and in fact the first of my ‘good people’ post later this morning is about one such ‘helper’. I am encouraged, but not yet convinced that the majority of people would be willing to set aside their differences for the greater good. I find that I cannot disagree with your take about our ‘goose’ being cooked. Between the greed and power-lust of the wealthy (read Republican Party) and the selfishness of the average Joe who refuses to even wear a mask to protect himself and others, I don’t see much reason for optimism about our future. The next threat will more likely be an internal one that demolishes the last vestiges of democratic principles we still have.

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    • Thanks Sheree! I’m coping, but frankly the healthcare system here in the U.S. is horrible and I’ve not been able to get the care I needed. Still, I’m gaining a bit of strength back and even managed to cook a simple supper tonight!

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    • Hey Bro!!! Good to see you! Like you, I don’t have a lot of faith in the people of this country being able or willing to set aside their differences in the interest of cohesion, of humanity. But, then since last weekend’s tornadoes, I have read of some great acts of compassion and kindness, so maybe …

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