Dita Parker

Monday, May 18, 2009

Put the fork down

Oh the restlessness. So much happening at once it's a deluge in a thimble. But it's the little thimble that could, can, Have figurative gun - Will travel. Methinks. Mehopes.

Hope. There's that word again, right up there with Pa Kent's truth, tolerance and justice. Short supply, great demand and Superman missing in action. Yet Hope Dies Last, as Studs Terkel will tell you. Pick up that book and be blown away by what that great humanist, humanitarian and oral historian dug up: everyman's everyday heroism, wisdom, faith, worth and dignity. Traits we all carry, qualities that sometimes make you feel you need that superhuman strength to live out and help face some cynic's or 'realist's' ridicule, characteristics that could easily pull us out and pull us through anything if we didn't dread so much and think so little of them.

I'm dragging that soapbox out again, I know, my apologies, but it troubles me. Not just the economy and the voices of doom and gloom. It's the people being deafeaned and downtrodden by them I'm worried about. You probably know one or two. You might be among them. Neighbors, colleagues, brothers, cousins, laid off or fired, looking for a job, graduating to unemployment, right, left and center. People who used to have places to go and people to meet with nothing but bills and loans to pay and creditors to negotiate with.

Some have never been in that situation, many never even had nightmares of such a thing happening, and now they're paralyzed by what they feel they didn't deserve and couldn't see coming. It's unnerving, the level of unexpectedness, or should we say incompetence. Anyone in the know: Tell the truth. By all means, tell it like it is and leave in all the ugly parts as they were. We only wish we'd been told a little sooner or that those who tried to do so had been listened to instead of silenced.

But you didn't happen to pick up some proverbial coals by the tracks when the coal train passed by? Or did you? Don't get me wrong, I have a fierce protective streak my loved ones and innocent bystanders alike are free to take advantage of twenty four seven. But I also happen to believe everyone could use a little more of the Superman mentality and a little less of hiding inside Clark Kent, to say nothing of Lex Luthor. Superman was born Superman, remember? Weren't we all until we were stuffed in a power suit, and I'm not talking about those primary colored tights?

You have to be self-reliant in the sense that you have to believe in yourself, look after your interests, yes, but look after your loved ones too since it has been proven time and time again no one else will. You can't count on your government or that trust fund to float your boat. What if it's in the hands of some mad dog or other? What if it runs out? Greed never will. If there's profit to be had, if there are people to be had, someone will always be waiting in the wings to take advantage. (You did snatch some of those coals, didn't you? I saw you; I was there, too.)

Accessories after the fact, enablers and people willing to look away; victims, underdogs, losers big and small. Aren't we all guilty by association? Avarice, remember? Most do, on some level, understand what makes the world go round. There can't be wealth without poverty, you can't advance without leaving someone behind, and Western progress now spreading through the East means the end of our planet as we know it. So tell the East to stop making progress or cutback and downsize the Western way of life like never before? Which would be easier? Which would be wiser? Which would be fair?

There's much to be said about globalization, but if anything good has come out of this new deal it's maybe a newborn awareness of how very interlinked our lives are, and how very similar our joys and sorrows. Centuries of living apart, of seeing others as not quite human, as Others, or at least not as good and righteous as ourselves, it has happened on all continents, on all sides. The borders are still there, some grudges haven't been forgiven or forgotten. But like a crisis is what it usually takes for an individual to re-evaluate things, the same seems to be happening on a global scale. Methinks. Mehopes.

Too bad if it turns out to be too little too late. Too sad if we don't make a conscious effort to walk a mile in each other's shoes, try to make this planet and each other's lives livable, learn to feast on kindness, stock up on compassion, hunger for some higher mutual ground. Lay down the cutlery when gluttony and silent despair are the special of the day and give Superman a fighting slash flying chance, or you'll find a dead end at the end of the tunnel, not the light you were hoping for.

No comments: