It all seems a terrible dream even by my standards jaded by too many years as a newsman.
Another hurricane causes death and destruction.
Another major financial firm faces bankruptcy.
The state legislature cuts a budget deal 11 weeks after the deadline that isn’t a budget at all, and actually will make the situation worse before long.
And we are confronted with the aftermath of an unspeakable tragedy in our own backyard that has investigators at war with each other as they try to determine if the engineer really was text messaging with some teenage boys as his train was heading toward disaster.
Maybe we sll should get down on our knees and pray like so many did over the weekend as they grieved for those who were killed or hoped for the recovery of those who were injured.
Nature itself seems angry at us and too many of us seemed to have lost all sense whether we’re engaged in high finance or more mundane occupations.
My darkness at dawn this morning isn’t just about the confluence of events this weekend. It’s hardly the first time I’ve felt like the world’s gone mad and things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.
Truth is a vision of looming catastrophe has haunted my thoughts most of my life. Maybe it started with being made to crouch under my desk in grade school to prepare for a nuclear way. Maybe it was the anti-Communist fanaticism or the racism exposed in the ’50s or the assassination of those with the power to inspire in the ’60s. Maybe it’s the endless wars and pointless ideological conflicts that have brought our society to a standstill even as we continue our addiction to materialism as if more of everything could ever make us happy.
All I know is we have to change our ways before it’s too late. We have to get back to basics in our personal lives and we have to start fixing what’s broken in our collective lives.
I’ve been in awe most of my adult life at the resiliency of our society to sustain itself even as the disparities in our society grow wider, and the divisions between us harden.
None of us is free of responsibility for the state of things. We are all going to have to change our minds about the way we live, what’s really important and how we are going to get along together.
There is no evidence that our government or our civic leaders are going to be the driving force of change. Wealth and power are the strongest narcotics. Change is going to have to come from the grassroots, from ordinary people waking up and starting to do something about the world around them.
This is as close as I can come to putting into words what I believe. It’s why I’ve gotten involved with others who have worked for years to try to make their neighborhoods and our city better. It’s why we somehow have to get others to pay attention.
The warning signs are everywhere. If we keep going on the path we’re on, the tragedies will only grow larger, the breakdown of our society will only grow worse.
So put me in the doomsayer class and ignore me, ignore the trend lines that are all heading in the same direction toward a collision at some point in the future. Keep mortgaging the future and living like there’s no tomorrow.
Just know this: In all our lives, rich or poor, smart or dumb, beautiful or not, all bills come due sooner or later. And when you have moments of doubt sometimes that awaken you in the middle of night, dwell on it for a while and maybe you’ll change your mind and start making different choices.
That’s the only miracle there is and as far as I can see, we need some miracles.