As if We Were Dying “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” (Plato)
As if We Were Dying
By George Mantor
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” (Plato)
How did we get to be so mean? We know that mean people suck. There is a bumper sticker that says so.
We have gone from caring, to indifferent, to a mean-spiritedness that strikes me as inhuman.
These are hard times for a lot of folks. Many who were once upwardly mobile are now plummeting into a jet-black future.
We never really know what is going on in the lives of others. Most of us keep a stiff upper-lip and try to move through our own setbacks without creating a wake that consumes those around us.
We like to think that we are tough, we can handle it. We don’t tell others our problems because we know they have their own and they may need to lean on us in the future. We must be strong! It’s a matter of pride.
And, then one day…you can probably fill in the rest of the story from recent headlines.
We are a stressed-out nation with a broken health care system, with few resources for mental health care, and no solutions for the problems that got us here.
Our very interconnectedness has become a barrier to real communication.
How often do we miss the chance to look someone in the eyes and hear what they are really saying? Even worse, how often do we just tune them out or cut them off?
The danger on the road ahead is that we sacrifice all compassion for others in the mad scramble to get what we need. Recently, a police officer shot a man in the face who was stopped for riding his bike on the sidewalk. I do it all the time. The comments section of the paper ran two to one that he had it coming. The police beating of a local autistic boy brought the same disturbing responses.
A lot of the current dialogue has been about the ways of getting rid of poor people. It seems that even with laws prohibiting riding bicycles on the sidewalk, we can’t seem to shoot them fast enough. The problem is that there are so damned many of them that solutions are hard to come by. Particularly when you believe that helping the less fortunate only encourages them. And, a whole bunch of them are getting old and sick.
No cash-strapped government is going to be willing or able to support that. I have no idea how we will deal with the misery that lies ahead.
We have completely lost our way as a nation. We are no longer pulling in the same direction with purpose and conviction. We are fractionalized, marginalized, divided and conquered.
We have abdicated our individual responsibility for public service and, with rare exception, the only people who run for office are those who see it as a career move; mostly hustlers and boneheads, and so at every level we are being run by inferiors.
We talk about American superiority as though it were fact and not the fiction of a bygone era. For a brief analysis see Doomers, The Fucked Generation. http://4closurefraud.org/2011/10/28/george-mantor-reader-discretion-advised-contains-strong-language/
Herein, I examined briefly the challenges that the next generation will face, and what we are doing about it (essentially doubling down on our mistakes and making things irreversible).
You probably think I’m a pessimist, but I’m not at all. I’m amazed….just amazed!
Even the jungle can be an inviting and fascinating place to the appreciative eye. We are not here to be safe, we are here to think, experience, and gain understanding.
Watching a species destroy everything needed to support life is interesting and ironic. I can’t figure out what I’m missing. Why do we ignore the undeniable facts before us?
Yeah, we fucked it up alright. Big time! The tab for a boatload of hare-brained ideas is about to come due, and all the platinum coins in the world can’t fix it. We have created problems that go way beyond fiat money.
I do sometimes feel that I am living in a comic book. The schools are all on lock down, and a bunch of folks think we can fix it if we mint a coin too big for anyone to move. That is some funny shit. Next, someone will propose we construct a large pagan god and pray to it for help.
We could easily reverse the course we are on merely through changes in monetary policy. That’s it. Seriously! Monetary policy isn’t carved in stone, and the one we have been forced to accept doesn’t work. Doing more of it for longer only makes it worse, but the folks who believed in it cannot admit that it doesn’t work, despite the obviousness of the facts.
That entire debt ceiling thing is made up. That is the genesis of the idea behind the trillion dollar coin. We can do whatever we want. We print money and give it to the banks, right? We should stop doing that since, as a result, the banks have all the money and the people have all the debt.
Stop doing that and everyone can go back to building and rebuilding for the future. The needs are there, the jobs are there, prosperity for all is down that road, not central banks and fiat money.
Our so called “poverty” is just paper poverty. America is rich beyond estimation and has more than is needed to provide food, shelter, and healthcare for every American. Why are we doing anything else?
Someday, we will look back and wish we had.
The power shift to a one-world order is the result of limiting resources to the extent that they benefit the fewest people possible. High unemployment is a way of limiting resources because all of those people aren’t part of a system of bringing resources to a wider marketplace through their productivity, creativity, and consumption. They are wasted human capital that could be building something of value rather than being a further drag on the system.
Good luck, Doomers. Maybe, just maybe, some good can come from the multiple pending crises for which we are unprepared. Maybe we will relocate our souls when all hell is breaking loose, and we have to dig deep down. Maybe a heavy dose of harsh and brutal reality will be just what is needed to rekindle that American character and be a catalyst to make us a better, more caring people.
That would then make the suffering endurable. The Greatest Generation was great because they came together as a nation driven by purpose and resolve to make America a better place for the next generation.
My grandmother raised six children during the depression. My mother was the oldest and never forgot the real lessons of the experience. Poor people are always the most generous. No matter how little we had, we were always ready to share with those who had less. There was a different fiber to our character. We mattered to each other.
Beginning when I was a year old, my mother waged a nearly twenty year war against Multiple Sclerosis. My dad died when I was six. I know first-hand about not having enough and suppressing impossible dreams. I also know about safety nets and the kindness of strangers.
While I’m sure that coming home from school and finding your new wardrobe laid out on your bed was pretty cool, I don’t think it can top the adventure of rummaging through box after box of other peoples discards hoping to find something that actually fits and wouldn’t be too humiliating to wear to school.
Back in the day, people kept children’s clothing until they knew they weren’t having any more. Designers would have starved. Until I went to school, I wore the clothes my older sister got too big for. So, by the time kids’ clothing made its way to the church basement, they were literally from another era.
Church basements have a distinctive aroma which, over time, permeates the clothing; a distinct combination of Lysol, must, cigarette smoke, and a hint of Maxwell House.
For me, the challenge was to find something that actually fit. Style and coordination were secondary concerns; and yet, the potential for ridicule from fellow classmates had to be taken into account.
Between these experiences and my mother’s recollection of the depression, comes my observation that poverty is just a choice made for us by others. The food is there, the shelter is there, but some of us are prohibited from having it.
I watched this dynamic play out in a weird way. I once introduced a young couple who endeavored to punish me by making me a big part of their up-coming wedding. The bride- to-be was the daughter of a senior executive of a luxury hotel chain, and so a little dinner was planned in one of the private dining rooms of the local palace.
My mother was visiting me from out of town at the time, and so, without even giving it a thought, I brought her with me. I was flabbergasted by what happened and extremely pissed off. Though there was ample room at the large banquet table, I was told that she couldn’t remain for dinner and that since she was not included on the guest list, no meal had been prepared for her.
I didn’t offer an alternative or make a scene, I just got her coat and we left.
On the drive home, I apologized to her for not having phoned ahead.
She said, “Those are some very funny people. They have four restaurants in that hotel and they can’t figure out a way to feed a little old lady. In our day, we just watered down the soup a little and cut the meat a little thinner, and everybody ate.”
During the depression, people would sort of happen-by around supper time. Aroma is a powerful magnet. Sharing feeds the soul.
The road ahead will be nothing short of an adventure. There will be a tendency to want to blame someone for our troubles, and we must not allow the people who got us here to divide us against one another. If we reunite as a nation with the single purpose of improving the lives of all Americans, we can do it.
Until then, we can all make a difference in the lives of those we encounter.
- Be nice. “Don’t think twice, just be nice.” I saw that somewhere and I never forgot. It just makes it easier, and more fun. I have the most remarkable conversations with complete strangers. Sometimes they stop being strangers.
- Smile at everyone; it can’t hurt.
- Remember what your mama taught you, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything. Being mean hurts you more than the person you are being mean to.
- Find something nice to say. Deliberately.
- Get out of judgment and into curiosity. The most interesting people are sometimes among the most difficult to understand.
- Listen, just listen. I’ve given up on helping everyone else solve their problems. I make suggestions, and I get excuses as to why they won’t work. Now, I feel no pressure to have a meaningful response, and I just listen. It seems to help about as well as my trying to find solutions. Just because people don’t want to solve their problems, doesn’t mean they don’t need someone to listen to them.
- Reach out. Don’t wait. Who can you touch today? How much might it mean to someone just to know you were thinking of them?
- “Stomp upon the terra”, Lord Buckley said. Let them know you were here. Everyone can make a difference.
- Think good thoughts and send them to the people you care about.
- Treat everyone as if they were dying. Because they are. We tend to forget that. The average lifetime boils down to about 650,000 hours. Many lives won’t have nearly as many.
Author Steven Covey–I was taking the tube one Sunday morning and reading my newspaper. At the first stop three young children and their father joined our carriage but the children were so badly behaved I found it impossible to read or enjoy the journey. A little cross I asked their father if he could control his children better. He replied, “Oh, I am sorry you were disturbed, you see we have come from the hospital where their mother, my wife has just died.”
Plato was right. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
Tough times are unavoidable. But maybe, just maybe, we can learn from this how to become the people we once were; united, compassionate, strong, and free.