We have to invent a sea of tranquility

Photo credit: M. Gålfalk, G. Olofsson, and H.-G. Florén

Well, I lasted about ten minutes into the second presidential debate, then in a fit of irritation turned it off.  I’m not saying it doesn’t matter who gets elected, but do these guys think in Power Point, or what? 5-point plans, 10-point plans…are the world and the US economy really that simple? That 20-year old college student, Jeremy, whom both candidates cared about so deeply and treated with such effusive friendliness–you think they’ll give him a job when he graduates?  I can see him now in 2016, their trophy Employed Person, Joe the Plumber’s alter ego.  Poor Jeremy.  Maybe he’ll get to work at a call center for minimum wage and no benefits…until it moves to another state or country.  Good luck paying off those student loans, Jeremy.

I shouldn’t watch these things, they just make me mad.

Heard a scary story from my daughter-in-law today. Yesterday,  a guy suspected of murdering someone was seen running into a nearby house. The SWAT team, a police helicopter, and a K-9 unit arrived with the arsenal of military-grade weapons now standard issue to police departments, cordoned off the neighborhood, placed police snipers on the rooftops, fired beanbags to break the windows, then tear gassed the house. My daughter-in-law said a woman living there has an 8-month-old baby–she didn’t know if they were in the house.   They didn’t catch the guy, who is considered armed and dangerous. He could be hiding under their house. The police could have shot him in front of a street full of neighborhood children. Anything could happen, with weapons everywhere like a war zone.

Sometimes I barely recognize the world anymore.  What it’s like to be old, I guess. There’s a movie I saw a few years ago, Children of Men, that keeps haunting me, the scenes of collapsing social order, bands of desperate hungry people roaming the countryside pursued by highly militarized police, all the structures of society crumbling around them. It’s an apocalyptic vision, really, powerful and disturbing.  I hope it’s not where we’re headed. Some days it’s hard to shake off a sense of impending doom.

We have to invent a sea of tranquility
in the heartland,
A calm world in a curve of trees,
spacious, silent,
Cooling the fevers with a landscape
of hope and repose.

–from “The Sea of Tranquility,” by Don Gordon

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8 Responses to We have to invent a sea of tranquility

  1. byebyebeer says:

    Well aware I sound ignorant when I say this, but I don’t watch the news (or debates) anymore for precisely this reason. It upsets me, the feelings evoked and then my powerlessness. The news is filled with bad, sad things and it disturbs me. Besides, whatever I miss, I’ll hear about it eventually from my husband or a friend or maybe via yahoo’s home page.

    Children of Men is such a brilliant movie, but so hard to watch. I’ve seen it all the way through and then snippets of when it was on cable, but I think I’m done with it. That future is too terrible.

    As for the elections, I feel resigned to whomever wins. I’ll vote and that’s all I can do. President honestly only has so much power. Glad not to be that college student, though.

    • sswl says:

      I hear you, BBB. I’ve been active in political/social justice stuff for much of my life, and though I truly believe sitting on my hands isn’t the answer, haven’t much idea what to do these days. Very discouraging, hard to think what sort of future subsequent generations will have.

  2. Lisa Neumann says:

    For what it’s worth I don’t recognize the world these day either. AND didn’t watch the debate… can’t take all the bs … xox lisa

  3. Casey says:

    I know I should care about the debates and news, but it’s all so depressing right now. When we know things aren’t right, and they are too big to do much of anything about. I have to spend my time raking leaves in autumn’s sprinkling rains. Seems more life affirming.

    • sswl says:

      Definitely more life-affirming, Casey. One area where it seems like little things can turn into big things is stuff people are doing to protect the environment. Even if the big things are getting worse–global warming and all that–if you can help clean up one stream, protect one old growth forest, seems like the ripples go far.

  4. Mary LA says:

    In so many ways I lived through that descent into anarchy in Zimbabwe but I was lucky enough to be able to get away as banks closed and inflation soared, armoured tanks on the streets, Korean and Chinese troops were brought in, roaming groups of armed homeless, people dying by the roadside. No lights, no running water, the Aids pandemic all around. Tarred roads going back to grass and weeds, houses collapsing. After that, nothing would surprise me.

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