Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Perhaps it is Time to End

I wouldn't exactly call myself pessimistic. I'd say pragmatic, usually, with a hint of optimism. While I always look at the negative aspects of any situation, it's more a matter of trying to figure out what pitfalls we may need to avoid before we get to them rather than thinking and expecting that everything's going to go south. Call it a proactive problem solving and preparedness tendency. I prefer smooth sailing, and so I look to anticipate the troughs and be prepared for them, even if I can't avoid them. It's not always possible or achievable, but it's my outlook. I want the easy, happy days just as much as anyone else, but I know those days are few and far in-between.
There are those beautiful days, when no one kills another person, when no one gets shot, stabbed, or robbed, when the government is actually interested in its citizens, and those citizens are actually good to one another. There are those beautiful days when children look up in awe at their parents, thinking they're as perfect as anyone could possibly be, and those very same parents are looking back at their children in utter amazement, thinking the same thing. There are those days when two people, regardless of gender and sexual orientation and race and religion, look at one another and realize that they don't want to be with anyone else in the world. Ever. There are those beautiful days when enemies find common ground and can laugh together at the same joke, because deep down, they both know they really want the same things.
But those days seem to becoming even more rare than they already were.
Early this year, I was inspired to write a short story that I haven't yet finished. My original attempt at capturing it didn't feel right to me, and so I've been searching for a way to rewrite it for much of the year. The premise is that one man is charged by God (regardless of the reader's particular religious beliefs) to determine whether the world should go on or end. If he decides that it should end, the end begins immediately, no waiting. Oddly, I feel as if this burden has shifted to my own shoulders.
I started writing this story back in April, long before the Batman shootings in Aurora, Colorado, and long before the stabbings in China and the shootings at Newtown, Conneticut, but I was certainly thinking of incidents like those that my main character had to weigh against the beautiful days like I mentioned above. I had long since tired of the political campaigns that have raged over the last 18 months, when our leaders thought the best way to prove their worthiness to run our nation was to cut one another down, when it was easier to come up with lies and negative spins than it was to come up with solutions and offer to work together. I had long tired of those smiling faces dancing in front of the cameras to get our votes because they wanted to be in the history books rather than legitimately trying to fix the problems our nations face, the problems that our people deal with on a daily basis. Isn't it odd that people care more about money than they do about the health and well being of other people, especially their fellow countrymen? How shallow they seem when they then rush out to start charity drives and raise donations for emergency relief when a disaster strikes, but during the other 99% of the time, they don't give a damn if those people live or die...
The problem with the people in this world is that they are increasingly self-centered, with little or no regard to how their actions affect other people. People simply don't care what happens to anyone else any more. Reality shows propagate that even more; most of the time the "stars" of these shows are put in contrived situations to see how they react, and most of the time they try to do the most outrageous things possible to make themselves into celebrities. The worst part is that people watch these shows and propagate that behavior even further, and because those are "reality" shows, people think they're real, and that that's how life really is.
As much as I hate to think it, let alone say it, I'm really starting to believe that people, especially the youth in America, are losing sight of the difference between true reality and the fiction of reality shows, "found footage" films, viral videos, and video games. I've fought against that argument for many years, because I thought you'd really have to be an idiot to not know the difference, but it seems to becoming a bigger issue all the time. I'm not going to link these mass shootings to any of these things, but every time one occurs, people bring that up... Perhaps it's true... Perhaps these people think that people will simply respawn after some cooldown timer expires...
So, in a round about way, this brings us to the mental health issue. I just finished reading an article on CNN, "Anarchist Soccer Mom Cries Out For Help", which discusses a blogger that is afraid of her son and recently had him committed. The article points out that people are both supporting her and attacking her for her decision, but the fact of the matter is that we don't do enough in this country to support one another's physical well being, let alone mental well being. Any time someone brings up universal health care for American citizens, people start screaming "socialism!" and acting as if the world is about to end. Well maybe it should end. If you can't care about the people living on the streets of your own city, state, and country, then maybe we don't deserve to have that country. When this country was founded, admittedly on the backs of slaves and across the bodies of the indigenous populations, those founders looked after one another, seeing to the health of all of those in the [accepted] communities. That was a socialist tendency. Get over it! Until World War II, the United States had a socialist party, and essentially the only reason we despise socialism so much today is because of the examples that came about 70+ years ago: Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, countries that were or became our enemies. Instead, we cling blindly to the belief that capitalism is better; that it's better to work hard, feed the military industrial complex, the oil companies and the insurance companies, and scream that these things make us better!
What made us better was that we were willing to look out for one another. We were willing to join together to overcome our problems, to find solutions, and even just share a meal. People weren't willing to just let others in their community go without because they had no money. People were willing to bend over backwards to help one another. But that time has passed. People don't want to make sure that there's a roof over every American's head unless there's a profit in it. People don't want to help a sick person get well unless they can get a dollar out of it or demonstrate how charitable or generous they are on television. And no one wants to help the mentally ill or those that could just use a few hours a week speaking to a mental health professional because of the stigma involved.
Liza Long did the right thing in committing her son; there's no way around it. I wish Adam Lanza had gotten the help he needed. I wish James Holmes had gotten more help. I wish my countrymen cared enough to stop bitching about socialism and start giving a damn about their fellow countrymen; perhaps enough to see to it that we all get healthcare and education. People have said in the past that we're the richest, most prosperous and most powerful nation on the Earth, but, if that's still the case these days, the reason is because this country is full of selfish assholes crying over profits. The Republican party likes to scream over the national deficit that we're leaving behind for our children, but they say nothing over the deficit of compassion that's being propagated through our society as people are left to struggle to survive let alone stay healthy. Generally, their idea of making the country better is to enrich the rich, make the corporations powerful, take away women's rights, restrict the minorities' right to vote, and let the middle and lower class fight among themselves for survival. I'm surprised they haven't proposed the return of gladiatorial combat, allowing the non-rich to fight to the death for scraps of health care and education... Shit, I should delete that before they introduce a bill on that idea...
With a deep breath, I apologize for delving into politics. I didn't want to go there, but I feel it was necessary since "liberals" like me are always screaming about "entitlement programs" and healthcare. I just think this country is morally bankrupt when we start talking about the economy making this a great country rather than the principles that this country was founded on. The founders of this country didn't particularly want anyone to suffer. If they were around today, I guarantee you that each and every one of them would be in favor of better healthcare and education for all Americans.
As it is... I don't know... I'm at a point where I think that this world probably deserves to end, that I almost wish that the doomsayers that foolishly believe the world will end this Friday were actually going to be right... I'm not going to do anything to try to bring that about, but despite the promise that our people, all people, have, I really don't see any good reason why we should go on. Maybe God will bring about a new plague, one that wipes out all the world's adults, sparing the children and, through His grace, allows them to grow up to be better people than we are.
Perhaps it is time to end.