Times are tough. Despair is everywhere. For so many of us, hope and change has turned into cope with pain. The stories you hear , everyday, on the news are enough to make you chuck your TV into the nearest dumpster. Sometimes for me, when I awake in the morning, I just lie there trying to come up with enough convincing reasons to get out of bed. It’s scary. What happened ?
My oldest sister Deborah has a saying she keeps repeating whenever the subject of how difficult and scary things have become ( especially for so many of us who had gotten used to, expected, life to be if not meaningful, at least semi-comfortable). She says, “I’m not surprised, I’m just disappointed.” Disappointed in what? Disappointed in our ‘leaders’, in the government, in people. in herself? All of the above, maybe. But I really don’t have to ask, because I feel the same way, I think.
Take Obama, for instance (Yes, PLEASE take him!). I don’t think anyone with common sense and intelligence really expected him to do all the things he promised, or even half or a quarter of them. Where the disappointment that Deborah mentions comes from is the realization that his administration hasn’t even TRIED most of them. Public option? No, “too hard”. Employee Free Choice Act? Sorry, don’t have time to stand up for workers rights and the middle class. Prosecute the crooks who destroyed the world’s economy and billions of lives? That would be “living in the past. We must move on”. Eliminating the Bush tax cuts that helped cause the giant budget deficit ? Oh, can’t do that ,that would “slow” the recovery.( THIS is a RECOVERY?!? ) Bring back jobs from overseas? Hey, let’s sign another ‘free trade’ agreement with low wage countries, where the only thing set ‘free’ are American corporations from having to pay decent wages and benefits to their workers. And on and on. And on. Stand with the Wisconsin labor unions. Sorry, too ‘risky’. And on.
But it’s not all Obama. He’s just the current figurehead for the system that favors the ruthless, venal and immoral over the majority, who really do believe in the golden rule, you know, Do unto others as you would like others to do unto you. How quaint, huh? BHO is just another greaser of the engine of the machine called free enterprise, capitalism, freedom, destiny, God’s will, or whatever the latest excuse for being heartless bastards is being called.
So, am I advocating just crawling up in a ball, giving up, cause there’s nothing we can do, that’s just the way things are, the game is rigged, woe is us, the little guy and gal?
Not in the least.
Giving up is NOT AN OPTION.
We are at the crossroads. The lies we have been told for generations by the rich and powerful, the lies about globalization being a ‘win-win’ solution, the lies about unfettered capitalism causing all boats to rise, the lie about God wanting man to use as much fossil fuels as he can extract because that’s why God created them in the first place, the lie that making money is the best way to judge success and goodness, all those lies and more have been exposed as empty. As dangerous. As unsustainable.
This economic crisis has shown us, at least those of us who want to see, that the path of expediency, the path of willful ignorance, the path of selfishness, will eventually lead to widespread suffering. So, what path must we take next?
The SLOW path. The path of the long term, the long view, the path of the optimist, the path of the believer in the future. The path of the selfish is always the path of pessimism, the path of doubt, the path of despair, the path of the hopeless, the path of fear. The selfish may pretend as though they have hope and faith, but their actions are the actions of the terrified. They hoard, they steal, they scheme, they rationalize, they bargain, they cut corners, they justify, all because they are scared and hopeless. Hope is not merely a word. Hope is a way of life. It shows, it is plain to see, the way you live your life, if you really have hope. Hope never comes from the barrel of a gun. Or a missile. Or a car bomb. Or a hedge fund. Or a politician.
What to do next? Here’s what: Keep Trying. Every day. You know what to do. You know what you want. You know what’s right. Don’t let anyone, any circumstance, any election, any setback, any problem, any injustice stop you. Keep trying. You know why? Because you really don’t have a choice, do you? Cause when you stop trying you start dying. And dying is no fun. Fun comes from getting up, looking them in the eyes, smiling and saying “I’m still here and I’m still coming.”
You may not reach your ‘goal’, your ‘dream’. So what? It never was about goals, about dreams, about fairy tale endings, about saviors and salvation. It always been about trying everyday to be happy and helping others. That’s it. Take a step towards happiness. Keep trying. Or start dying.