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“Normal?”

The question is, will we ever go back to what, for lack of a better word, we can call normal? “Normal” being that societies rich and poor live within certain parameters that we are accustomed to. First the poor or close-to-poor: Dictatorships and repressive regimes are the norm rather than the exception, corruption reigns supreme, freedom of speech is rare, human rights and, even more starkly, women’s rights are inexistent, natural disasters happen, extreme poverty, hunger and disease, war, genocide and massacres exist and wipe out untold numbers, while people who survive do so in such conditions that the dead may be the lucky ones. The Western world is somewhat protected, though it has its share of misery with immensely wealthy and powerful people, in their bubbles, and the rest dragging along, sustained by dreams until dreams no longer work. Those Western countries, as well as a bunch of others–Japan, Australia et al–are also given direction by governments which, to a higher or lesser degree, are driven, or say they are, by virtues and goals that have trickled down from the glory days of Rome or Athens in ancient times, getting honed, with mighty ups and catastrophic downs, in the millennia since: service, the common good, prudence, strong alliances, honor, integrity, all on a sliding scale that goes from fairly common to somewhat to nil.

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 19.32.23

All that was yesterday. The picture is different today. Spinning out of control, the world around us has us both mesmerized and growing daily more desensitized. Every morning brings its avalanche of unbelievable pieces of news and yet we put one foot in front of the other in the fog of the new normal.

Consider today.

  1. As lists and numbers are being tallied in view of the end of the year, we hear that almost 3000 refugees drowned in the Mediterranean. Wave after wave of people no longer looking for a life better than in their own country, but escaping impossible conditions, are pushed away from one border after another. Slave markets are making a comeback, good specimens fetching high prices in Libya and surely other places.
  2. In Washington, the obscene Trump rants on Twitter at an accelerated pace as the “Russian thing” seems to be closing in on him. But at this point, we need to send ardent prayers to any angels still fluttering their wings: Please keep the awful orange buffoon in place and spare us from a Pence presidency. Yes, this is how bad it’s gotten. Where Trump is sick in the head, Pence is an extremist conservative, fueled by the Koch brothers fortune and gearing up to grab absolute power.
  3. I teared up today, remembering Obama, reading in the New YScreen Shot 2017-11-27 at 19.41.57orker about the new book by Pete Souza, the photographer who has taken a couple of million (yes, million) photos of our previous president. Obama? Wasn’t that a grand time and a grand presidency? Despite perhaps inevitable errors and miscalculations, our President was someone to look up to and be extremely proud of, in the U.S. and in the face of the world. Hard to believe now that the Obamas were still actually in the White House just over a year ago. One could say that being followed by Trump makes the former president appear even more articulate, elegant, courteous, knowledgeable, conscious of the planet, aware of the complexities of his job. But that probably wouldn’t be fair. He would have been Obama and remembered as such whether followed by a grotesque carnie, or by a more familiar model.
  4. My middle-aged son is going to a Marilyn Manson concert in Paris tonight. Where some twenty years ago, I would have had no particular recommendation (to which he would have paid no heed anyway), now, with images of the Bataclan in Paris or Ariana Grande Manchester concert in mind, the shootouts in other public places of worship or fun, vehicles mowing down pedestrians, fanatics and mental cases running amock, I had to insist that he text me the minute he was safely back home. And recommendations, yes: Check out the exits when you go in. Try not to stand front and center in the crowd. In case of an attack, don’t lie down, you make a bigger target, just run. etc. etc. A mother, distilling recently acquired wisdom.
  5. Ivanka Trump goes to India where she will get a grand reception from PM Modi, celebrations in a spruced-up Hyderabad where the poorest of the poor are whisked out of sight along with stray dogs–though perhaps not euthanized as these surely will be. And this loathsome person from an loathsome family, scheduled to talk about women’s empowerment, will not be asked a single question regarding the wretched working conditions of the female workers toiling in the factories that produce garments for her brand.
  6. The Pope is in Myanmar today, with recommendations not to mention the Rohyinga, even in talks with Aung San Suu Kyi regarding the ethnic cleansing of the Muslim minority at the hand of Buddhist monks. (Yes, violent and extremist Buddhist monks!) And the Pope has been advised to refrain from speaking his mind for fear of stoking the fires.

So, what do you think? Five or ten years down the road, will we be looking at today as an aberration or remember it as our last golden age? In other words, are we going to go back to some form of sanity or head into total and permanent chaos? OK, I can already hear the whataboutists coming up with their lists of the horrors the world has been through. Believe me, friends, I know. But it does seem much, much worse.

 

 

  1. jonathan smith
    November 29, 2017 at 1:09 am

    II am not optimistic, for sure

    Like

  2. Jonathan Agronsky
    November 29, 2017 at 3:36 am

    We do live in a dispiriting age. Back in the mid-1970s, when I lived in Pittsburgh, I met a young house painter. In retrospect, I think he was very wise. He told me: There are four ways to fight injustice: anger, humor, quality, and love. Choose your weapon.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. November 29, 2017 at 8:34 pm

    Reblogged this on Random and Sundry Things and commented:
    Food for thought in trying times!

    Liked by 1 person

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