I’ve heard it said that as one nears the end of this life, one becomes more introspective. I believe that is true … it has been the cause of many a sleepless night of late. While I’m not as brave as I once was, I am in many ways more courageous. Yes, there is a difference between the two. I used to be brave in the most foolhardy of ways … tempting fate, afraid of neither man nor beast. Today, I am afraid of such things as driving the car more than a mile to the grocery store. I was thinking the other night about some of the jobs I’ve had … why, I wouldn’t have the chutzpah to even apply for most of them today! I’ve faced angry men pointing a gun at me, car wrecks, hurricanes … and never really felt afraid. But today, though I may not be as brave as I once was, I have courage … a totally different thing.
I have the courage to say to Vladimir Putin when he threatens us with annihilation if we continue to help Ukraine, “F*CK YOU, Vlad! You do not rule the world, you have no right to tell the United States to whom it can provide assistance, whether weapons, food, medical supplies, or whatever.” I am not afraid of what Vladimir Putin can do to the United States, but rather am angry over his veiled threats. I think the reason for my ability to spit in Putin’s face is that the people of the United States are doing far more harm from within than Putin or Kim Jong-un or Xi Jinping can possibly do. And that, my friends, is the bane of my existence, the thing that keeps me awake until daybreak most nights, the thing that makes me glad to be at the end of life rather than at the beginning. The people of this nation … nay, of the world … seem not to give a damn about anyone but themselves.
But then I remember that even after I’m gone, many people I care a great deal about will be left to face this not-so-brave new world, the world where hatred and violence seem to be valued far more than love and peace. A world where guns matter more than people, where religion has largely become a farce that would be better suited to a Broadway stage than a church. Many people blame the former guy for the current state of the U.S., but I contend he is but a symptom, for the loons were out spewing their hatred long before he entered the picture. He was their tool, their hope to inject their toxic bile into the lives of everyone in this nation. Remember that although he lost the election by nearly 3 million votes, some 62,984,828 people did actually cast a vote for a madman with no relevant education, no government experience, a bloated ego, no humanitarianism, no compassion, no moral compass, and very little common sense. Nearly sixty-three million people were so ensconced in their bigotry, their hatred of ‘other’, their desire to turn this nation into something ugly, that they were willing to hand over the reins of power to a madman largely because he shared their bigotry.
Why does someone have to have the same skin colour as you do in order for you to call him ‘friend’? Why must everyone believe in the same religious rites and rituals, the same deity as you before you can tolerate them? It would be like me saying that if you don’t like peanut butter (nature’s most perfect food!) then I cannot be friends with you and thus I must dominate you! C’mon, people! Remember that we are ALL equal inhabitants of this planet, which brings me to another source of my sleeplessness …
We are knowingly, consciously, and deliberately destroying our home. Make no mistake … the planet has put up with a lot from us humans, but it is telling us in many ways that it’s done with us, that if we don’t change our ways, it will evict us. Ask yourself this … would you still drive that gas-guzzling SUV or keep your thermostat at a cool 70° all summer if you knew … knew that doing so would mean your grandchildren would die a slow, painful death in 20-30 years? Would you still support the fossil fuel industry, eat beef & pork, and fly to the opposite coast for a vacation or a wedding if you knew that by the end of this century, humans would be dying for a lack of potable water, food, and even air to breathe? Apparently, as I look around, the answer to that question is “yes, live for today and to hell with tomorrow.”
I am sick and tired of the new definitions given to words and used as rhetoric to monger hatred between groups of people. You know the words I mean – words like ‘woke’ and ‘grooming’ that are slung like hash intended to insult and offend. I’m sick and damn tired of all the name-calling and mud-slinging against anyone who doesn’t agree with someone else. I’m sick and tired of people who value a dollar more than a life. I’m sick and tired of every single thing having to be a divisive political issue. It’s almost become impossible to even say “Good morning” to someone without it starting an argument! I’ve heard it said that if one thing or another happens, it will cause a new civil war. Personally, I think this nation is already engaged in civil war on many fronts: political, racial, religious, wealth vs poverty, etc.
Yesterday, I heard that J.D. Vance, the author of a single book who is now running to replace Senator Rob Portman next year, said that childless people should not be allowed to vote, and that people with children should be given one vote for each child they produce. This, my friends, is an extreme, but apt example of the lunacy that is devouring this country. It is heartbreaking to watch a nation that I was once glad to have been born in devolve to this point. It is infuriating to watch people who seemingly take pride in their ignorance choose the side of hatred and division. It is gut-wrenching to know that this is the world I’m leaving to my daughter and granddaughter.
So yes, today I have courage that I didn’t have when I was young and foolish. I have the courage to think for myself and to say what I think. I have the courage to go against the flow, to call out evil when and where I see it, to do my part to protect the future for our children and grandchildren and to demand that others do the same. Too bad I didn’t find that courage when I was younger – I might have been able to make a difference.