Quote: Slow down, you move too fast, you gotta make the morning last (Simon & Garfunkel, 59th Street Bridge Song)
The world is too much with us…getting and spending, we lay waste our powers (William Wordsworth)
In the news: It’s Overdose Awareness Day-and Overdoses are killing more Americans than ever before (Vox, 8.31.18)
The Millennial Left is Tired of Waiting (Ben Judah, The Atlantic, 7.25.19)
In context: Ouch! Too much, too fast. That’s the slogan for the social media age. That’s also America’s theme with an ADHD Prez in the Oval Office.
Nobody knows what goes on in Donald Trump’ head, probably not even the man himself. He sees a record crowd at his inauguration when cameras clearly show the opposite. From his lofty post, he has a spokesman back his view. Ten Republicans buy the view and to some it renders the absurdity reality. Others see the reality gap and and yet it slips right by as part of the topsy-turvy modern era.
America itself seems drugged today. The Prez may be on a cocktail of psychotics. The Senate is numbed, slavishly backing its party’s top renegade The House with its slim majority is doubly drugged. Half is on speed and the other half on downers. The American people, meanwhile, the people themselves are mired in a Facebook reality where they are the stars of their own trivial dramas. Minutiae crowd out the larger picture like weeds overgrow cultivated plants in a garden.
America, the land of opportunity and innovation, is now a land of opioid addiction caught on a tech treadmill headed by a Prez whose intellectual range is bounded by Twitter characters. Alexa turns on the house lights but it doesn’t turn on the common sense button in the human brain.
Donald Trump, a notorious New York con man, was a TV reality show star to the rest of America. A third of the country bought his schtick that he was their champion. That is the Trump base and no evidence convinces them that they were duped. To them, the strong economy and jobs numbers prove out their faith, bolstered by their choice of news source. Roll-backs on protective regulations and healthy jobs numbers due to multiple-job holders because one job doesn’t pay the bills is beyond their ken.
That’s the Trump base, too busy providing for tech-savvy millennials who know those facts and are impatient to protect their future. They champ at the bit for change the country’s majority is not ready to embrace and that stalemate dwarfs others, notably the most basic one of whether America wants to be a benevolent or fearsome country.
Thankfully, the millennials have that basic question right. Kindness, generosity and concern for others including animals and the world are not weaknesses, as Trump, the base and Trump enablers think. Generosity is, in fact, the greatest luxury in the world, available to both poor and rich. Learning such virtues is a product of learning to be socialized, growing from a self-absorbed tot into an adult of social value. That growth does not stop at any given age but continues to develops as conditions change. That calls for down-time, in woefully short supply with ever-evolving tech gizmos
Down-time is a forgotten art that could cure the bundle of crises featuring both Trump and opioid addiction. Those quick-fixes for life’s overwhelming challenges don’t do the trick. A wall will not keep out a globalizing world. Facebooks “likes” and Twitter “retweets” don’t fill a void left by a missing sense of comfort with the self. All humans, as of now, have angels and demons inside, streaks of ambition combined with tendencies toward laziness. Facing these conflicts and resolving them brings both comfort and confidence in facing outside challenges.
Taking time out from the tech ratrace carries its own rewards. There is instant gratification in being independent of outside stimulation. Friends may be happier than ever to hear from you once you take down the “gone fishing” sign, especially if you indulged an urge to pick up a pencil or crayon, or if you Googled a new train of thought all on your own. Trips to outer space or the top of the Himalayas are not the only adventures left open to humans. Like the ocean depths, the human soul remains a delightful mystery as the world grows more complex about what to do with troubled neighbors. .
An old New Yorker cartoon depicted a visitor sleeping in front on artiest at an easel holding an empty canvas. “Watching creativity at work,” was the caption. It was a variation of watching grass grow or contemplating the navel, as was said during the old days of Zen meditation back in the ancient 1980’s. That was a remake of an even more ancient time back before the age of Confucius. It’s an old recipe but it works for human peace and fulfillment in a hectic world.
So chill out, young ‘uns. Take a tip from the oldsters and “listen to your elders” if you want your revolution, action on climate change, better health care and better relations with neighbors. You’ll have time when Trump is gone and perhaps with him, the country’s opioid crisis.