Pondering as Rome burns
Lots of fear and uncertainty in the world today.
I woke to my old cat snuggled into my side, warm and purring, half awake already. Beyond the open window “my” wren sang his morning song from his perch on a sour gum branch, the cool, rising sunlight glowing lemon and lime through the leaves. The wren’s song is full of complex twists, trills and delicate whimsy. It’s most deliciously musical; wrens are surely the wild young Mozarts of birdsong and they deserve their proper place among the more well-established nightingales and warblers.
It’s a good thing that the world is full of things like birdsong. We need it as we face these dark times. Wrens and cats help to keep the darkness and uncertainty in perspective. (As an example, my old tuxedo’d buddy is propped, front end on my arm, back end on the sofa cushion, still purring even now, and making me smile in spite of myself.) So do pots of soup thrown together from whatever’s in the vegetable bin, hearty stock and spices blended with love to evoke better times.
On my laptop today I learn that my country balances on the very knife-edge of fiscal, governmental and societal collapse. I see words like “urgent” and “bipartisan” from the very ones who brought disaster on us all – while at the same time they strive to make sure they don’t lose their ill-gotten riches. With only six weeks to go before the presidential election, I hear both sides blaming the other for our predicament, though anyone with a brain saw this coming from a long way off and knows, instinctively, which side lost themselves in greed and prevarication, and to hell with everyone else. I watch with disbelief as the vice presidential nominee on the Daddy Warbucks side of the house refuses, for the 24th day, to hold a press conference during which she can answer questions from the press. She expects “deference,” but I would like to remind her that she’s a public servant, and I and my fellow citizens are her direct employers. If she’d show us some respect, we might be more inclined to show her the same. But deference? No.
I learn that, not being happy with two wars that are draining America’s coffers nearly as fast as the Wall Street shysters themselves, our Daddy Warbucks government is angling, dangerously, for a third war in Pakistan. Having mindlessly squandered both lives and treasure in a war of opportunity in Iraq while neglecting and ignoring the just war in Afghanistan, they seem ready to commence the senseless murder of Americans and Pakistanis alike in a bid for even more power. Can they really be serious? I’m afraid so. Perhaps they’re hoping that the angry Pakistanis will shoot down one of our illegally raiding helicopters, and they’ll have a real reason to declare war and drag our attention away from the looming economic collapse and the possible takeover of our government by people who are even greedier, lazier, and more wicked than those holding sway over us now.
I’m just one small person in the middle of the maelstrom. I can’t really influence any of what’s coming, except to hope that saner, cooler, more moral heads prevail. But however it all shakes out, the future is uncertain for all of us. The America we knew is effectively gone, and a new one is taking shape. It might be a better America – but it might not be, too. So today I’ll listen to the wren sing his immortal song. I’ll stroke my old cat and enjoy the sweet warmth he shares with me. And I’ll make a pot of soup out of hope and goodness, and invite the world to stop by for a bowl.