(please indulge my self-indulgence)
I always wanted to help save the world. I couldn’t explain why – its source was so deep within me that words, analysis, or interpretations were totally inadequate. Seems I was born with this drive because it manifested as early as first grade when I brought home a boy named Richard who was “different” from all the other kids and anyone else I’d yet known. The “difference” was very subtle but my lost puppy radar was already activated, though unbidden and unconscious.
Then in high school there was Eddie whose face was a bit disfigured from what seemed to be a birth defect. I never actually brought Eddie home (one didn’t bring boys home at my age) but his appreciation of my friendship was so clear that it can still ring the bell of my heart.
Over the years this drive was like a tide with sometimes long intervals between its cycles of ebb, flow, flood. Its manifestations ranged from exploring various figurative art forms, to essay writing, to studying and practicing psychology, to creating a multi-media expressive arts program for teens, to traveling and interviewing young people, to writing illustrated books, and to Buddhist philosophy. Too many things really, too many possibilities. So doubts about how best to fulfill my “mission” would periodically overtake me. Others would advise me to scale down my ambitions, be more realistic, more limited in the scope of my vision, and to be content to help a few or even one or two individuals.
Well, I felt I’d kind of already done that and it simply wasn’t enough. Their advice though (of course) well-meaning, invariably made me burn with frustration. And if one would occasionally venture to suggest this was all a matter of my ego needing to be tamed, I’d practically burst into flames! That they couldn’t fathom this to be anything other than megalomania or narcissism, drove a smoldering stake into my heart. That so many couldn’t share my vision of “big possibilities” made my doubts of success flare anew. That they didn’t understand this was something I couldn’t help myself overcome, (though believe me there were many times I so wanted to) felt like a bucket of ice water being dumped on me. That they might be right about some of it – i.e. the “realistic” bit – was like a thought one might have being stuck at the bottom of a well and running out of air. But being the stubborn s.o.b. that I am, I’d eventually struggle free and find some way to rise to the surface and resume my quest, quite unable to resist its pull (kind of like the bucket at the end of a rope in that well).
So what? Why am I writing about this personal struggle junk and why should you care? Because that was before 9/11, before Syria and Iraq, Abu-Graib, Gitmo, Afganistan, and Darfur, before Dubbya’s unbelievable re-election, Enron, Halliburton, Scooter, the Wall Street and bank crashes, before last TV season’s fare of murder, mayhem, corruption, dissection, absurdly phony and shallow “competitions”, before desperate wives and swapping became unrelenting TV fodder. Suddenly I felt like I was drowning again, but this time in crap; that we were ALL drowning in a million tons of our own crap. It reinforced all my frustration and doubt like earthquake retrofits.
If only more leaders, aspiring leaders, and various current govt representatives could develop a truly new vision for the present and future, like, yes I’ll say it: Mr B Obama. Then maybe they’ll stop wanting to turn the clock back to when “America was Great” or the time and ways of the “Great War” (can you imagine having the gall to characterize any war in that way?) or the “Greatest Generation” (um, excuse me, what are the rest of us, chicken feed?) or the glory days of R Reagan (yeah, like it’s really because he said “tear down that wall” that it happened for petesake).
Maybe then they’ll all stop trying to impose their hypocritical values on all of us. Like the idea that it’s okay to send young, or older, men and women off to be slaughtered in war or die in bomb-laden cars or jet-fuel-laden planes; and okay to have a death penalty or leave people imprisoned indefinitely w/out trial; shoot and kill men because the color of their skin terrifies you; let thousands, no millions, of people starve to death, be bombed, violated, tortured, or die of easily treatable diseases just because they had the misfortune of being born in certain places.
(And let me get this straight: it’s still not okay to let a woman choose not to have a child she can’t afford or can’t take care of properly, or one conceived by rape, but it is okay for others to have fertility TX’s which produce way too many cells to ever be used, and it’s okay to throw them away, but not okay to use them instead to find a way to save other lives or ease suffering? And it’s completely acceptable for people to suffer and die because they have no affordable health insurance?)
And it’s still okay for some people to be rewarded with far too much even if it leads to tremendous loss and suffering for others, and those “others” should be happy with nothing but the hope that crumbs may somehow trickle down? Um, maybe I’m a dope, but seems to me that hasn’t really worked very well – ever!
If I were of the praying persuasion, I’d get down on my knees and pray that the inspiration and promise of Obama’s fresh and positive broad vision, wisdom, determination, and optimism doesn’t get beaten to a pulp by the above fore-mentioned forces of selfishness, myopia, prejudice, and fear of change. That hope keeps my little flame flickering these days……