Friday, June 29, 2012

Dog Days of Hopelessness....?

I don't know if the 'dog days of summer' have struck early or not. I do not know if lethargy and lassitude and a sense of revisiting the "existential moment," that moment in which one fully realizes one's own meaninglessness can or should even recur after seven decades.
Nevertheless, that is what it feels like these days.
Yesterday, with the upholding of the Affordable Care Act by the U.S.  Supreme Court, contrary to most expectations, with Justice Roberts proving the unpredictable by siding with the liberal majority on mandates, by finessing them as a "tax" and thereby within the constitutional power of the federal government, I thought I would be jumping for joy. The U.S. has finally moved into the twentieth century, by beginning to provide affordable health care for its millions currently living on the edge, if they have survived this far.
However, with the news came the threat to repeal and replace by Romney and his Republican super-pac's, funding by the Koch brothers, Adelson and many other millionaires, as well as billionaires.
Also with the new came word that the President would have to do something he has heretofore not accomplished, that is sell the benefits of the bill, if he expects to be re-elected.
And then there was the hot-to-boiling-over pot of Syria generating another meeting in Brussels, where there are hints that Russia may finally have come to its senses, and begun to see the error of supporting Assad. And still, Egypt has a new Muslim Brotherhood president to be sworn in this weekend, with who-knows whoat repercussions for the entente with Israel, upheld in the past by Mubarak and his predecessors. And then there is Iran, and the word and subterfuge games around her ambition to acquire nuclear weapons, no closer to resolution than many months, and many meetings ago, and the world waits.
At home, in Canada, we are watching the slash and burn of some 20,000 civil servant jobs, with no respect for union contracts, seniority, performance or future prospects, in terms of the delivery of services to the public. And while that is going on, we all know that First Nations people are starving, drinking excessively and getting sick without adequate access to health care on many reserves across the country. And the government insists it will purchase those 65 Fighter Jets, and construct several millions worth of new prison cells, given their crime bills longer sentences and increased arrests, in wars that all research demonstrates, are better fought with compassion and rehabilitation than with more concrete cells.
And just yesterday morning the city of Kingston issued warnings for two Lake Ontario beaches, contaminated with e-coli, from the city's overflowing sewage system, which no one anywhere, city, province or federal governments, has either the money or the political will to correct, on the greatest fresh-water body (the Great Lakes) in the world.
And we hear of petty crimes, shootings, lootings and white collar crime perhaps at no greater rates than previously, but still on top of everything else, it brings one down, in  the sense that caring and hoping for change are both pollyanna pipe dreams in the sense of making a substantial difference.
I can and do admire the thousands of young people who are starting their own "foundations" for helping the third world, the child soldiers, the refugees, the starving and the destitute, and pray that their efforts will be rewarded in the long term, because what I see from the official voices of official governments is mostly tepid, luke-warm, placebo's of extended 'caring' without a sign that they intend to do anything real about many of the clear, unequivocal and serious issues that face the globe, now and in the foreseeable future.
Protocol, political correctness, anality, political infighting for personal and party advantage...and the large does of personal ego's intruding into the public discourse....these are the ingredients that seem to be stirring the public debates...with little, if any, positive results.
I think I am living on the set of a play being acted by deaf actors following a script written by Edward Albee, (Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolfe) only now the issues that leaders are screeming about are not only the alcoholism of one of the combatants, but global survival issues, like poisoning the air, water and land, poisoning the education of young people by driving them to greater and greater efforts in a Darwinian jungle of competition for money, money and more money...and poisoning the administration of so many institutions with high-tech thinking and metaphors, not merely the hardware.
It is as if we are living the next generation of what Lionel Tiger called the industrialization of not only production but reproduction, and we have taken that to the next level, by technologizing relationships, business, education, medicine, law and even government.
We still cling to shibboleths like "hours worked" as opposed to "results achieved" thereby chaining workers to the time clock, but even if we were to release those chains, we would still be the most critical, judgemental, unforgiving and tyrannical generation of people the world have ever seen. It used to be that only leaders and giants of commerce were cut-throat. We have democratized those skills, and now everyone is like the woman who, in the middle of a rain storm on Fifth Avenue, when Michelle Landsberg was attempting to enter a taxi, pushed her aside, jumped into the cab and shouted, "This is New York, Honey!" without a thought of apology, respect or even guilt for having literally stolen the cab from Michelle.
That is my picture of the way the world operates....and I not only don't want the cab; I begin to cease to want even to be playing any part in this stampede to extinction that I see playing out right in front of my eyes, and the eyes of everyone else.

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