Hate to say it, but the world is not in great shape. As 2016 comes to a merciful close, one hopes that there is a positive correction in the offing.
Case in point – Lori and I are sitting in the lounge at Istanbul airport. We have a mere ten hours to kill between flights. So we plunk ourselves down in front of nine TV screens
and watched as Turkish TV covered the recent assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey from so many angles and angles that the NFL could use their technology to cover this year’s Super Bowl. Following extensive reportage, we switched to the Merry Christmas mass murder of innocents in Berlin by a lunatic truck driver. For comic relief we were then treated to coverage of the poor buggers stuck in Aleppo as Putin, like any good schoolyard bully does, flexes his muscles by picking on those least able to defend themselves.
Eventually time came to board our next nine hour flight. Sitting in extreme comfort in Biz Class (please add the term ‘Business Class’ to your ever expanding list of oxymorons, including military intelligence, giant grump, etc,) reading the latest copy of The Economist. Article after article – the Chinese are taking Orwell’s philosophy to levels he never dreamt of, Aleppo has brought a fading Putin back to life, Governor Rick Perry is made Secretary of a department that he vowed to shut down if elected, deforestation is proceeding globally at a rate far in excess of the most pessimistic forecasts, etc., etc.
Folks, we have a problem here. My mom, who is one of the brighter people I’ve had the pleasure to meet, finished her degree in English Lit back in the ’70s. She started the programme back in the ’50s but opted for a different type of college education; one including hanging out for long lunches at Hillel, playing card, smoking cigarettes, and taking joyrides to the country in her father’s car with her friends. Hard to argue about lessons learned in preparation for the rest of life. But I digress. For a change. Point being that in her second incarnation as McGill student, she was exposed to Ionesco, Beckett and other masters of the Theater of the Absurd. I remember that her biggest take away was the notion that if the centre does not hold anarchistic chaos can’t be far behind. Folks, we sure as hell are living it now. I hearken back to a radio commercial i heard a couple of days prior to departing. The ad was pitching a local pool hall. As part of the come on, they advised listeners to bring their children, who would play for free. The tag line went something to the effect that as long as kids are playing pool they can’t get into trouble. Whether the tag line wa sin tended as irony or not, I will never know. But I couldn’t help but think of the song from The Music Man. Right now everybody, we’re living in River City.
What put me over the top and has me writing this diatribe at 4:45 in the morning as the sun comes up on a new day in Antanananivero was dinner last night.
Lori and I had a little convo with two young men dining at the next table over, a Brit and a Swiss. The Swiss dude had just come off a 4 month volunteer session in southern Madagascar, working to curtail environmental damage in the area. I asked him if he felt his time allowed him to make a difference. He paused a second or reworked and wistfully replied “no”. As long as the forces out there place self-interest over ethics, be it Aleppo or the coast of Madagascar, we’re all fucked. But we, as individuals, must continue to soldier on. It’s the only thing to do. Trouble. It starts with T and rhymes with P and that stands for Putin. Pleasant dreams everyone.