I continue to be amazed at the fragility and fickle nature of confidence. Given current political conspiracies and the weight of confusion brought by that uncertainty, it is little wonder things are erratic and unsettled. There is a yearning to go back to when things seemed to make more sense.
My Aunt Sukie, at 97, is the matriarch of our family. She doesn’t say much anymore, mostly because she can’t hear much. We hold her dearly, like a favorite blanket from childhood, bringing her to every event she can endure, just to have her near. She sits in a room full of family and friends or at dinner (steak and mashed!) beaming and smiling. If you turn to her and she can see you speaking at her, she will chat about anything. She loves little kids, good food, stylish clothing, vintage cars, and motorcycles, good looking men, reads voraciously and still plays a mean game of bridge every day.
When someone waxes poetic about what “used” to be and how wonderful everything was back in the day she gets a “been there” kind of look on her face and says…without irony or sarcasm…”what was, was…what is, IS.” She will often elaborate a bit that there’s no going back into the memory other than to remember fondly (or not so fondly), remember the lessons, saying firmly that “…things might not have been as good as we remember.” Or as my Old Guys T-shirt says, “The older we get, the better we were!”
It’s an important reminder for us all that past experiences, life, successes, failures, loves etc, etc…don’t necessarily portend the future. Looking back too much can be problematic…because not paying attention to the here and now; we might be smacked in the head by the present. Current political weather…invoking a remembrance of prior times (when things were Greater) … times driven by prior circumstance and the problems and opportunities of those moments…is classic denial. Given these machinations and the weight of confusion brought by constant agitation and uncertainty, it is little wonder things have been erratic and unsettled of late. I suspect that the erratic and unsettled nature of things is endemic to our society. Each generation has its beasts and demons, each set of beasts and demons is either murdered, expelled or absorbed, and we go forward. Collective memory is a myth and, in the sense that people understand history, very subjective.
These days, no fact goes undebated…where the presence of astronauts on the moon is a question rather than a statement, where the lessons of WWII are not remembered, not taught, not understood or even accepted. Obvious truth is subject to alternate interpretation morphing to become “alternate facts” tarted up and represented as truth… the simple and simplistic appeal to a “nostalgic past” is the trump card in a deck being dealt that will leave us all being smacked in the face by the present and the poorer for it.
On the richest continent of the globe, people starve, can’t pay for medical care, have no homes or live in squalor, fight to make a decent living. The separation of wealth is now at 3rd world levels, and people who work are actually poor. What my Dad (and Auntie Sukie) worked hard for…to be middle class, have comfort, some wealth, a pleasant retirement… is possibly beyond the reach of most of our children. We occupy our attention with platitudes of past glory and false vilification of unseen monsters. Our lives seem distracted by obfuscation and false agendas… mostly out of ignorance and an inability to form clear and meaningful objectives…and we cannot bear the pain of dealing with the issues at hand. Regardless of reasons, the process is creating intended and unintended victims, and the damage will be great and perhaps systemically irreparable. As a greater society, we are at a dangerous tipping point!
Pogo once said….”we have met the enemy, and he is us…”
So very true.