It’s good to hear from you again. Your email response challenges me to look beyond politics and deeper into my own visceral responses to coping with modern society. Right now, I don’t see it as either a liberal or conservative issue but more of a breakdown in basic civility and consideration. There are so many negative factors eating away at society these days, not the least of which is the media and a world where expedited electrical correspondence has replaced good ol’ face to face communication (consider this email as an example). It is especially hard on us old fogies who can remember when the telephone and letter writing and good old fashioned conversation were the norm and not the exception.
I will grant you that Obama has been completely ineffective….and a huge disappointment. But on the other side of the aisle, I see nothing but venality and greed coming from Republicans. Tax breaks. Subsidies for the rich. The complete takeover of government by corporate interests. And a general air of vindictiveness and a lack of common decency. Every aspect of our daily lives is being taken out of our hands and is externally controlled in one respect or another. So there is a constant battle to maintain individuality and optimism in the face of overwhelming odds.
So…what is my coping mechanism? I wake up early each morning, have a good cup of strong coffee, do a crossword puzzle or two, and watch the dawn break over my little street. I watch as my neighbors begin to stir, starting up their cars for the morning commute; the young girl who jogs by on the sidewalk; the elderly couple walking their dog. And later still, the parents dropping their kids off at the elementary school just a few doors away. I think about my wife and daughter, still asleep, the porch step that needs fixing, the vegetable garden that needs watering and weeding. I look beyond the street to the mesas and mountains beyond where I can make a getaway if need be. And I think about friendship.
As I get older I spend more time trying to come to grips with the past and how it has shaped me and my responses to the world. And I seek vindication of myself as a social animal, and I seek humanity in others. This is one reason why re-establishing contact with you meant so much. Or why last year’s high school reunion was so compelling. There were those old threads reaching back to the past with a promise of new connections to the future.
I don’t give a shit about whether you are a Republican or Democrat. I don’t care what religion you espouse (as long as you don't espouse it to me). But I do care about people. And I do care about the freedom to make my own choices, read what I want to read, think my own thoughts and practicing personal responsibility. Unfortunately, that last part isn’t included in school curriculum these days though it certainly should be.
It’s funny but when I didn’t hear from you for so long, I figured that I’d somehow maybe said something callous or offensive. I was feeling disappointed in myself. So I was particularly pleased that you responded. Quite frankly, I’d much rather hear about what you and your family do, or where you’ve visited lately, or share in your ruminations about the past than to try and make any sense of the cultural erosion that is going on all around us. We’re only human and all we can do is plug away at this life realizing in the end that our votes don’t make any difference but that our daily actions with our fellow man do.
Sorry I’ve gone on for so long. I’d much rather sit down somewhere with you and a couple of beers and continue this discussion. And perhaps we can do that in 2012. I plan on spending some time in California in celebration, if that is the right word, of turning 65. Who’d have thought way back in ’65, huh?
Do keep in touch, my friend.