Why, yes, it has been several years since I wrote anything new for this blog. Thank you for noticing.
And in the time I’ve been away, it seems that the world has gone insane. America has gone insane. Even the beloved university where I work has gone insane.
“Hey, I need some muscle over here!”
A couple of days ago, yet another unthinkable act was committed against innocent people, people who were celebrating an office holiday party.
The unthinkable has become normal, even routine.
The response to this latest outrage by some of our leaders is to vote down legislation designed to make it more difficult for people who might have such desire to commit such atrocities from getting their hands on weapons, legally at least. At the same time, these leaders voted yet again to try to defund a government program designed to help people get access to health insurance.
Because somehow that’s a greater threat.
Not that it matters. The problem isn’t the overabundance of firearms in this country. The problem is that there are so many people who find it perfectly acceptable to use them against anyone, anytime, anywhere.
For any reason. For no reason.
The problem is that, as a nation — as a species — demonizing other people, dehumanizing them, has become normal. Routine.
Not that things have ever been any different. A teacher I had in high school once made an observation about France and Germany. It was, he said, as if the first Frenchman and the first German both rose from the primordial ooze, looked over at the other and said, “I hate him.”
It applies to everyone, though. We’re all guilty, each of us capable of making a rational decision.
“I hate him.”
Each of us has said it. Each of us has thought it.
Oh, stop denying it. You know it’s true.
I’ve been away from this blog for a lot of reasons. One very important one is that one morning at work, I got a call from my wife, Stephanie.
“I have cancer.”
It was the worst day of my life. The next three weeks, until she could go into surgery, were hell on earth. As it happened, it was caught early, no thanks to the doctors. Stephanie suspected she had a problem, and had to basically dare an gynecology resident to find it after her regular gynecologist blew her off.
“I have patients with real problems.” That wasn’t precisely what he wrote in a letter to her, but it was the gist of what he meant.
Fortunately, it was caught early, and a successful surgery was able to remove the cancer with no need for chemo or radiation.
Less than a month later, while she still out on medical leave from the surgery, Stephanie had to resign from her job because of a problem at work created by two people we both thought were our friends.
The road to recovery has been long and hard. This was the second major medical crisis Stephanie has had since I met her, the first being a brain tumor discovered when she started babbling nonsense at work in 2007.
Things have been hard. They continue to be hard. We’re having a hard time.
From around May through early November, I put in roughly 50-plus hours a week on the job working on a big project. The project was reasonably successful, at least phase 1 of it that had to be finished before a hard deadline. There’s still tons of work, but at least I don’t have that deadline breathing down my neck anymore.
I’m so burned out. I’m so burned. I wish I could leave this job behind. I wish I could afford to do it, but I can’t. It’s not even that I dislike my job, per se. I’m just so tired of it.
I’ve been working in crisis mode for so long that I don’t even realize what normal is anymore. There is no end in sight.
And the world has gone from being manageable crazy to jaw-droppingly insane, and I have no comfort. I have no harbor in the normal things I used to so love.
And I have it so much better than a lot of people in the world. Most of them.
I know for a fact that I’m not alone. We all feel this way from time to time.
You may feel that way right now.
We can’t fix the world. Our world is irreparable. It has been that way from the beginning. It will be that way to the end.
The best we can do, I think, is perhaps show each other a little bit of kindness. I’m not good at that, myself. I’m not a particularly kind man, or generous, or gracious. I have, like my parents before me, a wide streak of selfishness and meanness running down the center of my soul.
But I would like to be better.
The only way I know how to do that is try to show a little kindness when I can, to deal with the ongoing madness of the world with some semblance of grace.
It isn’t much. May not even be worth the effort. But it’s the best I can do with what I’ve got.