RELAX

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Hi,

How are you’all doing out there? Sometimes it gets kind of rough these days. Are you still trying to pay attention, or does it stress you out too much. Maybe now is the time to just take a break and watch some football.

Nope, can’t do that. Too controversial. Sometimes it’s even difficult to know the enemy. Is it Kim Jung Un, that crazy Korean fellow, or Stephon Curry, who fires his own missals from three-point range.

In the meantime, the world around us keeps crumbling, with storms, earthquakes, and wildfires raging throughout the land. But they only last for a few news cycles. You probably would have difficulty remembering Harvey from Irma from Maria from Sandy — unless of course you’re living in one of the places those storms visited. Then you may never actually recover completely.

I’m just one older gentleman trying to figure out where to put in a couple of ounces of effort to make things a little better for a few people. My hope is to keep the species alive and functioning, but it’s becoming more difficult every hour. Each time I pick up my phone, either to answer the buzz or check my email, I get several new requests to send money. Money to help those who lost everything in the storms, fires and earthquakes. Money to stop the people who want to keep people from getting life-saving medicines, money to protect people’s right to vote, money to keep people in school, money to help cure several different diseases, money for many different candidates, each of whom has a different idea about how to make things better. I also get messages about how to spend money to buy the things I bought yesterday, and money to help someone I hardly know who is suddenly stranded in London without their luggage and wallet and who can’t get in contact with anyone but me.

The danger can’t be from our President. He’s just trying to do what’s best for the folks who like him the most, at least that’s what he keeps saying. The things he says he wants to do often don’t seem to be things that will solve any problem, but they do seem to be things that will make some group of people miserable. Or else, just to show he’s not just a blow-hard, he’s ready to blow-up several dozen million people in various spots around the world, just because he can.

Our Republican led Congress doesn’t have the time to pay attention to who the President is killing, they are working hard at the next attempt to make health care unaffordable for all but a select few. Of course, they could be authorizing money to send planes full of food and fuel to Puerto Rico, along with a large group of electricians, but few Puerto Ricans vote Republican. Taking away health care comes first, saving people from a disaster can wait. The next disaster will be here soon. Meanwhile those folks may lose their chance to get treatment for the trauma, cholera, dysentery, and other diseases they may get from living with no power, food or air-conditioning for a couple of weeks or months, if they survive at all.

But enough about politics. It all raises wider questions regarding who we all should care about, and how much. Are we, as a species, really capable of thinking in ways that benefit everyone, or can we only conceptualize what seems best for each of us, and parts of our family, in the immediate future? Is it that difficult to plan for anything beyond the next couple of months? One would think that with all of these new tools we have for absorbing, analyzing and sorting data, we could all get better a making plans for how to build a better future. But many people put all of the data into those new machines, and when the results tell them something they don’t want to hear, they make up their own answers. They think that the predictions of fire coming to their neighborhood is just something the government is foisting upon them to justifying collecting more taxes. Then, when the fire burns down their neighborhood they expect the government to be right there, paying to build it back again.

But, there I go again, getting all distracted by the threat of nuclear annihilation.

A few days ago my wife and I drove way up into the back country of New England to visit some friends who are even older than we are. Sadly their age is beginning to show. These are a couple of great people who have worked long and hard for many years. Most of their efforts were devoted to trying to give people some knowledge and skill necessary to live more healthy and successful lives. They also were very active participants in the social and political goings on in their communities, and in the wider world. They were often successful in dispelling the clouds of ignorance and doubt that appear whenever people realize that the world is changing around them. That can be very a unsettling experience, especially if it continues for years, and the pace increases.

We were visiting in part to see the small, but beautiful new house they had built for their current stage of life. It is a place that is very comfortable, and easy to maintain. They have decided not to have a TV, and to try and limit the time they spend gathering news, and wringing their hands about the current political and social chaos. They felt it was all too distracting and too anxiety provoking, and if the world were to blow up, it would be terrible for their grandchildren, but not for them, as their time is pretty limited.

They both have a few medical issues that have clearly become more disabling since the last time we saw them. But now they feel they have to pay attention, and rally their efforts, or else the medicines they both need to stay alive and functioning will become too expensive for them to afford, if they want to stay in their new house. Again, it becomes a question of national priorities: people or money. So far, with Republicans, the answer is clear: people with money matter. No one else comes close, unless you’re a rich Black athlete, and then you’re a son-of-a bitch.

Now it’s time to just relax. Pull up a chair. Turn off CNN and Fox, and fire up your NetFlicks or Amazon Prime and just watch a TV show or movie that was made before 1960, such as Donna Reed, or Father Knows Best or I Love Lucy. Watch anything written before the Vietnam War drove a stake through the heart of America and made us all skeptical about what we were being told. Something from before women began making a fuss about being capable and efficient, and Black people began to make some noise about being actual people. And anyway, all those issues were settled a long time ago, why bother bringing them up again. And look, Tom Brady, who loves all of his teammates equally, threw a touchdown pass to win the game with just 26 seconds left. What could be better than that?

Maybe avoiding an unnecessary war, or sending immediate help to people whose homes were destroyed by a hurricane.

Tomorrow, we are off to walk the woods in one of the United States’ magnificent national parks. We want to get there before Trump decides to build hotels all over them, or sell of the land for drilling and the buffalo for meat. I hope to meet some interesting people.