Sunday, June 13, 2021

Yes, I am still here

So, it has been quite a while since my last post.  About 7 weeks.  I haven't allowed that much time to pass between posts since I started this blog, over 11 years ago.

If pressed, I can point to a number of reasons for the gap. 

First and foremost, the declining health then passing of my father-in-law, Bill.  Without going into too may details, Bill was battling 2 different forms of cancer in the past couple of years.  While chemo and various medications slowed the progression, his quality of life was negatively effected. As the new year dawned, it became more obvious that Bill was stuck in an all too common cycle of feeling better for a bit with no treatment, then feeling awful when the cancers kicked in, then feeling sluggish with treatment which slowed but never ended the progression of the diseases.

Finally, in March, it became clear that Nora had to leave her job to spend time everyday with Bill, then actually live at his home when he could no longer take care of himself.  Needless to say, commenting on the events of the day took a back seat to helping Nora cope with the slow decline of her father.  

There are times when I am guilty of not understanding why so many Americans are so uninformed about the truly serious issues facing our nation, but this kind of experience can certainly provide a clearer perspective of what is important.  We have been lucky during this pandemic that no one in my direct family became sick, let alone hospitalized or fatally ill.  For anyone reading this who was just as lucky, but perhaps less than willing to wear a mask and do their part to stop the spread, or perhaps just didn't understand why there was so much focus on COVID, it might be helpful to be thankful for not having experienced the devastation that over 600,000 Americans and their families went through, and to remember that without the (mostly) concerted efforts to combat the pandemic, tens of thousands more Americans and their families would have experienced the slow, lonely death of the pandemic and the enhanced difficulty of grieving that the necessity of social distancing created.   

In Bill's case, it was finally decided that treatment was only prolonging the inevitable, and it was decided to turn to hospice care.  For me, it was very difficult to watch the changes he went through from last summer when we lived with him for 2 months to his last week when he was confined to bed.  When my father passed, it was sudden in that he went to the hospital for a risky surgery that did not work, and never regained consciousness.  Bill's decline was more visible, more immediate, more personal.  Nora did her best to make him comfortable, allowing him to die in his own house as he wished, and Bill did just that in just a week after treatment ended.  

Another big reason for my gap in posting is the transition from the former president to the Biden Administration, on two fronts.

As I have said to a few people, I know that President Biden will make some mistakes, just as all leaders do. But I feel confident that his errors will result in a lesson learned for him.  And, most of all, unlike the former president, I know that Biden's decisions will reflect his belief in what will be best for America, all America, not just those who voted for him, or worse, not just what is best for him as it seemed so many of the former president's decisions were.  He will work across the aisle when he can, go non-partisan when he must, and our country's situation will improve, even if there may be an occasional one step back, two steps forward.  In short, I trust President Biden, and don't need to watch the news to hear about the latest outrageous act or tweet or policy change like I did before.

Which brings me to the 2nd part of that same coin; Donald Trump is no longer president.  What happens to him at this point is less critical for me than for some.  I have never been a fan of the super rich, the super privileged, so it won't surprise me if the former president never truly pays for his misdeeds and crimes.  When justice is served, it is usually biased against the poor and in favor of the rich and well connected.  Regardless of the outcome however, it is enough for me that Trump is no longer our head of state, no longer has the ability to wield the most powerful military in the world, no longer represents the USA in our relationships with the rest of the world.  

Unfortunately, I am not as hopeful that the true legacy of the former president, the elevation of selfishness to a desirable, even patriotic trait will subside anytime soon.  Perhaps being in retail has clouded my perceptions, but there are just too many selfish Americans in play right now.  Don't get me wrong, people have always been selfish, have always put their own desires first, but the last 4 years of leadership by a man who did nothing in his life without calculating how it would benefit him, has emboldened far too many of our fellow citizens to let go the restraints that tempered their selfishness in the past.  I was glad to see that Biden has jettisoned the America First mantra, but saddened to hear so many conservative pundits decrying this decision, as they are clearly unable to see how promoting selfishness is a long term disaster.  I generally tell people who ask why I think that America First is a poor policy, that once we accept that everything we do must benefit ourselves first, to the detriment of the other countries on Earth, we must then accept it when those nations who are our friends do the same thing, let alone those who are not so friendly.  Did a China First policy result in a delay in informing the world about COVID? If so, who are we to criticize them if we believe in an America First ideology? 

In other words, if everything you did towards those in your neighborhood reflected a me first attitude, if everything you did towards your family and friends made it clear in no uncertain terms that you were the only person that mattered, I imagine you would have a less than positive relationship with your neighbors, family and friends.  It reminds me of trickle down economics where we were told that by giving all the breaks and money to the rich, we would all benefit.  America First, to me, equates to trickle down kindness; when it benefits us, we will be nice to you, when it doesn't, nothing for you.

Hopefully, as COVID relinquishes its hold on us, we will begin to emerge from the fog of selfishness.  We might realize that wearing masks, getting vaccinated, is as much for others as for oneself, and that together we move forward.  Perhaps that lesson will be applied to climate change and the ever growing threat that rampant selfishness may result in irreparable harm to the environment.  

And then, who knows, perhaps Earth First will become a thing.

In the meantime, I would rather be woke than asleep.