Monday, September 05, 2005

The End of the World as We Know It

Katrina. The death of Rehnquist. The appointment of John Roberts (who hasn't even been confirmed as a justice yet) as Chief Justice.

And here we are, left to ponder what it all means. I don't know about you, but I'm thoroughly on edge over the whole thing. Now that clean-up efforts have seemingly started in earnest, and bodies are starting to be pulled from the debris in New Orleans, it gives people a perfect opportunity to do what most Americans have done since 2000 -- pretend that nothing is wrong, we're all fine, nothing to see here, move along, move along.... They were only poor black people after all. Oh, and... we didn't really need that implied right to privacy, did we? I mean, that was fine, back in the day before terrorists were determining 99% of our national security policy and God was washing away entire cities because of homosexuality in the Armed Services... or our support of Israel... or the practice of Santaria in Louisiana... or the state's ten whole abortion clinics.... (the religious hate-mongerers are having a dickens of a time settling on just one thing these days).

No, no... now it's not just a whole new ballgame. It's a whole new sport. We have moved from wiffleball to the majors overnight. I had a feeling on November 2, 2004, when half of America decided that they were more afraid of Arab terrorists and a woman's right to determine whether she reproduced or not, then they were over the suspension of our Constitutional rights under the guise of "homeland security" that all things "American" had changed. Speaking of "homeland security," with the gutting of FEMA for the purposes of supporting an illegal war in Iraq, what exactly did D.C. think they would do, in the (un)likely event that a hurricane hit the Gulf of Mexico, or wild fires ignited in Wyoming or Montana, or a massive earthquake in Los Angeles? How did they expect -- with nearly 60% of all National Guard forces serving overseas -- that they would be able to deploy enough people in the (un)likely event of any of the above catastrophes to actually save human lives? Or did it even matter?

What is it that bothers me most here? There are so many things, I'm not sure I can refine it to a single thought. As a writer, I should be able to do just that. I should already know what upsets me about all this, and what I expect to do about it.

But I don't. I don't know what I want to do. Do I want to move to another country, before this Administration starts a forced draft of my teenaged daughter (because, God knows, we can't let the Bush twins fight in Iraq, little braintrusts that they are)? Do I want to stick it out here, while disgruntled white Christian men, nostalgic for the good old days when they were in charge, and their wives were shackled into marriage by unplanned pregnancy, fight like hell to retake their prerogative to determine, by their own sexual urges, when and how a woman conceives and gives birth? Do I want to live in that country, the one that lurks in the darkest recesses of my "worst-case scenario" brain?

I'm tired. I haven't been taking my bupropion with any regularity. Perhaps that is coloring my temperament. I'm sick and I'm sad -- for the people in New Orleans who have to listen while the head of FEMA pulls the old "Gee, are you guys in trouble? Well, why didn't you speak up and say something, for gosh sakes?" routine. I'm sick for my daughter who, between the threat of a forced draft, and the threat to her reproductive self-determination, is at risk of losing the America her parents were reared in. I'm especially sick that, after profiting so blatantly from the war in Iraq, Halliburton is now headed into hurricane-ravaged Louisiana to see what resources it can suck dry there.

I'm trying to stay zen. I make plans to picnic at the Hollywood Bowl once more this year before the season ends. I work on my portfolios for school. I move through work with a kind of leaden non-efficiency that is totally out of character for me. My friend Shannon says that, sometimes, our job is just to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving through it until we get to the other side. Maybe that's where we live now. We may just need to play out this hand that's being dealt -- not only to us, but by us, as well. These are, after all, our elected officials. They work for us. We may not have voted for them, but they are ours nonetheless. I like to think of myself in the midst of this White House administration as middle management, saddled through nepotism to oversee the incompetent, disingenuous, occasionally dangerous son of the disreputable chairman of the board. As those who voted for other presidents, and other governors, and other representatives, the problem may not be of our creation, but it is no less our problem.

How will we cope? What will we do to keep the ship on course, while the mutinous and evil ship's crew attempts to steer us aground for their own benefit?

One foot in front of the other. Until we get to the other side. Maybe we'll never make it. We might have to abandon the trip entirely and go to points north, or destinations across the Atlantic, in order to ensure the safety and ultimate freedom of our children. But for now, we move on, the best we can, holding on to our ideals and our senses of self, until compassion, sanity, common sense and beneficence return to save us from the pirates.


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