- Picture of Jupiter taken July 10 from the Juno spacecraft.
So, it's been a year since we heard, and experienced, the fell news about the supposed election of an insane person to the United States presidency. And as that year has gone on, day by day, the news in the public sphere has been of disaster and disorder, injury and insult, seemingly with no bounds and to no end.
Particularly since the total solar eclipse, it's been one national crisis after the next, whether born of intent, neglect, or some seemingly natural process. A series of major hurricanes, followed by a vast swath of northern California burning up, interlaced with threats of nuclear war, escalation of the war in Afghanistan, revelation of a war in Niger and of American military presence in a total of 172 countries, and most lately, a tax plan that would take more than a trillion dollars in new national debt and put it in the pockets of billionaires. God, that was a long sentence. That's how it is.
We have cabinet officers whose job seems to be dismantling the agencies they run; we witnessed a very, very strange massacre in Las Vegas; we are seeing the belching forth of an entire universe of sexual abuse, including by the president himself; we have American citizens drinking from contaminated wells used to monitor Superfund sites in Puerto Rico, and on and on. Anyone who comes near TV or the internet is getting a steady stream of these things into their consciousness.
This is just what we know about. Here we are, "the greatest nation in the world." What could possibly go wrong?
Life on Earth is challenging, stressful, and at least a little dangerous, often under the very best conditions. Even where things are relatively calm, it often seems that death and danger are nearby; and if not, we still experience the pain of the rest of the world.
There are the significant challenges of everyday existence. Does anyone know anyone whose life is not touched by addiction or cancer or a serious car accident or an immune system disorder?
It Takes a Busload of Faith—and No Hope at All
As Lou Reed said, it takes a busload of faith to get by. I am concerned that many people are clinging to hope—for example, the hope that things will get better. I consider hope a paralytic agent, one that interferes both with faith and with taking informed action. In fact, there is no hope right now. The world is too far gone. If we can admit that much—that is, if we have the courage to admit it—maybe we can wake up, work together, and start making some decisions.
Essential to this is admitting that many people are in a weakened state, whether from physical illness, burdens both practical and emotional, or a state of exhaustion. We will need to tap our deepest and most sincere spiritual resources and find seemingly new sources of strength. Each of us must do what we can, whenever we can; we must break free of false self-obsession and actively work to support our communities, and to share our resources and our knowledge.
We must support one another in being happy. I would encourage you to find time for the people you care about. Do your job with passion, not merely to get it done. When you can intervene and make the right thing happen, go out of your way to do so. We must get off this strictly-for-cash economy and support existence generously. If you have some extra money, make sure you divert some of it to who and what you know is the right thing, and remember: That's not enough.
As the technological environment completes its takeover of the human nervous system and sensory experiences, we are as a species becoming rigid and robotic, and losing our sense of play. If we are going to get out of the problems we are in, we will need to learn how to play with one another; which means to trust one another, feel one another and anticipate one another's needs.
We will need to learn how to have fun making the world a better place. We don't need entertainment. We need the pleasure of collaboration and of doing the right thing. I will say this again and again: we must learn to trust one another, and to give one another the solid ground on which that trust can be built.