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For many of us, the past six months have been agonizing.  On a daily basis it is necessary to re-group, re-think, and defend (whether in public or internally) our political and religious beliefs.  It’s tiring and demoralizing, and such a waste of human talent.   We sense that we should plan for disaster.  But which disaster will strike first, and what will that disaster look like? Planning seems impossible, or useless, or basically, “I’m just too exhausted to figure it out.”

That’s my negative side, which usually takes a back seat. But my positive outlook, compassion for others, belief that we can do better, treat others (even those we don’t agree with) with humanity and humility, is sorely tested and weakened these days.   I cling to it stubbornly, but wonder whether the fabric will hold when almost daily it needs to be mended and patched and reinforced.

A few days ago, Irene wrote in her blog about A Perfect World, and asked: Why are my children having to worry about which cabinet to hide in at school? When back in my day, our biggest fear at school was not having anyone to play with at recess! 

atomic-bomb-398277_640When I was in high school we had “Air Raid Drills.”  We learned to proceed in an orderly fashion down the hallways of the school and into the cold, windowless basement where we stood silently against the cinder block walls.  This was to prepare for a nuclear attack.

REALLY????  We were going to survive a bomb that had reduced two Japanese cities to rubble, had burned the skin off people from miles away, and had poisoned the “lucky” survivors with deadly radiation?

One time, I just went up to the principal, who was directing traffic at the top of the stairs, and told him it was against my religion to participate in the drill.  In a way this was the truth, but I’m pretty sure my motivation was more that if I was going to die, I’d just as soon die in a room with windows than in a cement coffin with hundreds of other terrified kids. He told me to go into his office and wait there.  I think it was about this time in my life that I finally accepted that grownups don’t have a clue either.

One of the good results of getting older should be a sense of perspective and some satisfaction that things are getting better.   So I could say to Irene that lying awake worrying about when the Russians were going to drop a bomb on my school, and marching into the basement in a futile attempt to be convinced that I would survive the attack didn’t ultimately scar me too much.  That would pretty much be true.

Yet, I would also have to acknowledge that the world is far more complicated today, that while the internet and social media have enabled us to be more connected and more informed about other cultures, it has also helped make us more divided, angry and antagonistic.  Somehow, we have settled at the lowest common denominator, rather than risen to greater heights. Our public discourse has become crude, vicious, and hateful and our national image has become a laughingstock around the world.

My children are adults now, and I know they do not blame me for this. I also know that there are still many good and committed people working in their neighborhoods and on the national and international stage to create better lives for themselves, their neighbors and the world. There are rational and measured voices speaking truth to power.  But I am very afraid that power no longer recognizes or even cares about truth.

I feel a deep sense of shame and sorrow. This isn’t the world I wanted to leave as a legacy for future generations.elegant-1769669_640It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.

Anne Frank wrote this in her diary on July 15, 1944, while she and her family were hiding from the Nazis in a small attic in Amsterdam.  If she could believe this under those circumstances, then who am I to doubt that it’s true?

My rant is over!

 

Daily Prompt: detonate

 

17 thoughts on “My Rant Has Detonated!

  1. Wow. What a blog! I too, feel and think so much of what you eloquently expressed here. It is exhausting to be pulled by hope and compassion in one direction and by fear and impending doom by the other. But like you, I cannot help but look up into the heavens at night and still cling to hope. Beautiful and terrifying piece–and I am so glad that you gave it form. You speak for a lot of people today. It’s always good to know that we are not alone, sister.

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    1. Thank you so much for your comments. You are right, it’s remembering that we’re not alone that keeps us from descending into hopelessness, or at least doesn’t let us stay there too long!!

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      1. Marty, I don’t think I ever knew that as a student you chose not to participate in air raid drills. Way to go! I also refused, and after bringing in a note of parental permission in junior high school, I would go alone out onto the playground and look at the sky, waiting for the bombs to drop, each time the rest of the students and teachers descended into the school’s air raid shelter. For me it was a much more meaningful way to prepare myself for atomic war.

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      2. I didn’t know (or remember maybe) that you did the same. I only chose to not go once. But still it was a good thing. Every time we choose not to buy into the insanity it makes things a little better!!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautifully written. The world is indeed now an ugly place, but it’s been there before and hopefully will be beautiful again one day 🦉

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  3. I have vivid memories of the Cuban Missile Crisis, of being a little Catholic kid in Catholic school, and kneeling on the hard floor in the hallway, saying the rosary. I remember believing that our prayers had helped to end the crisis, and that made my sore knees ok.

    I don’t know if that was healthy, or just as crazy as atomic bomb drills. When I hear people being nostalgic for the 50s and early 60s I want to ask them if they were even ALIVE then because I remember and it was a terrifying time.

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    1. It was all pretty crazy. Yes, the 50s were scary–Joe McCarthy, nuclear threats, official segregation–the list goes on and on. The 60s were more divisive than I was aware of at the time. Of course, I was on the “right” side of things so didn’t think much about the people who were being negatively affected because I was able to write them off in my mind as being ignorant, backward, etc. Not that I justify their actions or beliefs, but it is so much more complicated than I thought it was when I was 20! It’s so easy to live in our own echo chambers, rather than try to figure out how to reach people who don’t yet know how to get their needs met without hurting others.

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      1. I grew up in TN with far-right parents and far-left teachers at school, and the 60s were very confusing. I eventually became a liberal but the predominant liberal attitudes towards people on the right has always bothered me. Not a comfortable place to grow up, or to be.

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  4. Marty, I didn’t remember that you or Steve refused to participate in those ridiculous drills. But I’m proud of you both for it. I always went along because I’m conflict averse haha. Anyway, I remember they would tell us to put our heads between our knees. I guess that was so we could kiss our ass goodbye.
    I have been finding myself quite pessimistic these days about the future of America, and maybe the world, mainly because of the unthinkable outcome of our so-called democratic process. So I did appreciate reading about how you cope on a daily basis.

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    1. Thanks, WC! Maybe putting your head down was to make you dizzy so you wouldn’t have the mental clarity to figure out that you were doomed. Anyway, try to keep positive and do what you can. (You can’t be too conflict averse given how you like to rile up Cuz B!!)

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  5. You capture our current situation/dilemmas with such clarity. The sheer energy needed to maintain personal sanity of a sort is enormous. A daily challenge for which we’re not well prepared. I often think of people in war-torn and/or famine-stricken settings. Perhaps it’s a blessing to be out of the loop of news updates and almost breathless newscasts. Exhausting and debilitating for sure. And yet, I still hope, though not in the our own ability to get ourselves out of this morass. The quote from Anne Frank says it all. Thanks, Martha.

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