What can you say? These are dark days for America. I have “everything” and I’m still nervous and unhappy too much of the time.
On Facebook, I read about distant high school acquaintances and classmates who are at the end of their tether. People are living under extreme stress. We all know the appalling facts: 78% of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck … a third of all Americans don’t have $5,000 saved for their retirement … there are increasing rates of suicide and addiction … a crumbling infrastructure … public school teachers have to work three jobs to make ends meet … thirty million have no health insurance and millions more are under-insured. It’s a cliché but the American dream is becoming a nightmare for far too many in “the richest country in the world.” And yes, we’re still the richest country in the world, only the riches are increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few.
Horatio Alger is living in his parents’ basement, smoking pot, watching porn, and becoming embittered. I recently came across the term “IC” – involuntarily celibate. That used to be the condition of most normally horny teenage boys, but for it to become an entire class of young adult men is most troubling. But on gig economy salaries, how can people build families?
800,000 federal workers are about to miss a second paycheck. If this stalemate goes on much longer – and there are no signs of movement on either side – the economy may fall into recession. Just what we need: more self-inflicted pain.
And all this suffering is being caused intentionally. I’m sure that Trump figures that the Democrats, caring about the welfare of the government work force, will crack first. The GOP doesn’t care about human suffering; in fact, it’s often a bonus for them.
So what’s the solution? Let the Democrats keep fighting and investigating. Let Mueller’s report be released. Let the rest of the investigations in the Southern District of New York, etc., continue. I believe that justice will have its day.
I am by nature an optimistic person. The USA I grew up in, from Ike to Kennedy, was always going to get better. The horizon glowed with promise and potential. I’m living proof that Americans can and should advance, living better lives than their parents.
But starting with Reagan, it’s gotten more difficult for the average person to rise. I know that if I were starting out now, with what my parents earned and where I lived, I would be behind the eight ball. I’d have thousands of dollars of debt. The world-class education I received—even with my large basketball scholarship (that’s a joke)—would be beyond my means today. And I’d have to seriously think about a career in “financial services.”
I don’t like living in Trump’s America, but here I am. Here we are.
Until the change comes – whether it’s from impeachment or the election of 2020 -- we must resist and hope.
And there are good signs: a record 102 women in the new Congress, including 35 new members. It is the most racially diverse ever, with the first Native American congresswoman, the first Muslim congresswoman, and the first Green Beret. Ten new members are scientists.
We have the majority. Eventually, we’ll succeed.
Here are some good words of advice:
“Great works are performed not by strength, but perseverance.” -- Samuel Johnson
“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” – Helen Keller
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life … that is why I succeed.” -- Michael Jordan
“There is nothing like a dream to create the future.” -- Victor Hugo
“This new day is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on the yesterdays.” – Ralph Walso Emerson
“I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.” -- Anne Frank
“In the realm of ideas everything depends on enthusiasm... in the real world all rests on perseverance.” -- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“Where there is no hope, it is incumbent on us to invent it.” -- Albert Camus
“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.” -- Emily Dickinson
“… to hope till Hope creates / From its own wreck the thing it contemplates” – Percy Bysshe Shelley
“Ever since happiness heard your name, it has been running through the streets trying to find you.” -- Hafiz of Persia
“Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.” -- E.B. White
And a wise warning –
“Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper.” -- Francis Bacon
And for real hope, some holy music --
Beethoven’s 9th Symphony – Leonard Bernstein conducts an orchestra of international musicians celebrating the fall of the Berlin Wall – Christmas Day, 1989 – “Ode to Joy” starts around 1:02
Beethoven’s 9th Symphony – Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Riccardo Muti – from May 7, 2015 – the “Ode to Joy” starts at around 55:30
An “Ode to Joy” flashmob – somewhere in Spain -- heaven on earth
John Coltrane – “A Love Supreme” – the full album
John Coltrane – “A Love Supreme” – live at Festival de Jazz de Antibes, 1965