Several simultaneous, near-apocalypse-level horrors are running their course all around us. But the one I’m thinking most about at the moment–the one that’s most affecting my family–is the pandemic it that seems half of us, at least here in Florida, are pretending doesn’t exist.
We have a full house. One daughter awaiting her return to Morehead State University in August, another bound for the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, and a son about to start his senior year of high school.
All their lives have been scrambled. The future is a cloud of uncertainty. And they ask questions that are starting to sound a lot like, “Why bother?”
I spend a lot of time thinking about my oldest son, who enlisted in the Marine Corps last year. Military service requires a certain level of comfort with uncertainty, and I believe he’s naturally hard-wired for that sort of thing, but nothing is “normal” these days, not even for a young Marine.
What have I experienced in my half-century of life that I can offer them? It would be easy to tell them how easy they have it–that when I was their age, things were really hard. That’s both true and untrue, because each of us has to live within our own perspective.
Our family is fortunate–yes, privileged. The police aren’t gunning for us. We aren’t being separated from our children and deported country we’ve never lived in. Clean water flows from the tap. So far, we still have our jobs. Our family is weathering America’s steep decline better than we have a right to expect.
But all of us are going to have to adjust our expectations. America is changing. This is a metamorphosis into something we can’t yet identify. The only thing that’s clear is that we cannot go on as we have in the past.
It’s time to demand that our leaders lead on behalf of all of us, that our police serve and protect everyone without checking for skin tone and listening for an accent, and it’s time for us to get involved in whatever way we can.
I often feel helpless to make a difference. My soldiering days are long gone, and I’m a freelance writer and editor who spends his days at a desk in a converted suburban dining room.
I see people around me behaving poorly. Half of my neighbors seem to think current events are an excuse to party like it’s 1999, gather as they please, and refuse to wear masks in public places. I’m not here to rant, but I am discouraged.
It’s worse than that. I live in Florida, and the willful stupidity I see all around me, at all levels, is beginning to piss me off. Seriously, if you can’t show some compassion and humanity, and if you’ve deliberately switched off your brain, at this point I have no use for you.
I’m looking for opportunities to start conversations about how we go forward as communities and as a country. As I see it, our politics have divided us into two nations–one that wants democracy and justice, and another that wants a perception of comfort and security for themselves and those like them, at any price. We’re going to have to learn to be one nation again. That’s going to be tough.
Many countries have failed to come back together after conflict. In fact, as it turns out, so did the United States. We swept too much under the rug after the Civil War, and it’s still there. All of it.
November is coming. We’re going to have to work hard to repair all the damage the current administration has done, both directly and through the sort of indirect, trickle-down-fascism that enables state and local governments and domestic yahoos to feel comfortable breaking institutions and hurting innocent people.
Whatever America looks like in five or ten years, it won’t be anything we have ever been used to. If we get it right, that’s a good thing–something not to fear, but to hope for.
Did I mention that November is coming? I suggest we vote for something better. It’s going to take all of us, so if you’re not registered, kindly get your shit together.
If you think the government we’re enduring now is ok, none of this was meant for you anyway. So get off my lawn, and wear a mask, FFS.