Saturday, May 21, 2005
Today Seems Far Too Conflicted
Just go read any news feed. Mostly conflicts from everywhere and about everything. From small to large, from simple to complex, and from national to international, we are butting heads in all directions. Perhaps it is technology that allows us to gather reports worldwide, continent wide and nationwide in a flash. The information avalanche hits us from many sources: TV, Newspapers, Mags, Radio, and the Internet all throwing stuff at us far faster than we can read it or assimilate it, then integrate it. Formerly, we put our trust in a few analysts and commentators whose job it was to make sense of all the bits and pieces for us, but over time they have proven to be biased, arrogant, and many times sailing too close to the wind.
Swirling in my head are the current US conflicts worldwide: Iraq, Iran, NOK, Syria, and China for nations; Islam, Anti-Christians, Nihilists, and Secular Humanists, not to mention Socialists and Communists still there for ideologies; and Saudi Arabia, Iran, Venezuela, The EU and Russia for resources, especially oil; they are all at our throats. I have undoubtedly left out too many others.
Then I shake my head and up come the national conflicts we have now: Left versus Right; Activist judges; abortion, gay marriage; pork for everyone as in free college, free medical care, free retirement, and jobs for life; a national debt that is soaring; medicare going bust sooner than social security, and so on, and so on...
After sticking my head in a bowl of water to flush away the tensions, out come the personal problems as well. But I won't go into them here!
There are simply too many conflicts chasing my attention. I keep thinking of those people who buy a remote piece of land, build on it, and go after a lifestyle that is simpler and more attuned to the rhythms of nature. No telephone, no TV, no internet and no newspapers to boil their blood or shock their sense of right from wrong. Maybe an island in the South Pacific with palm trees, white beaches, and soft music in the warm night air. Soft music? Who is playing that?
Only in the movies.
The places I dreamed of visiting or even living in have one at a time shown me their undersides, their drawbacks, and their dangers. Think of being isolated when a medical emergency arises. Think of the illnesses that the local population has become inured to that you haven't. Think of the local politics and whether you just might not fit in. And think of the services you have now that would not be available: police you can count on, security as good as you can find anywhere, transportation, proper sewage, clean water, fuel for heating or cooling, foods you can believe are fresh and uncontaminated. Yes, I have been to many countries, and dwelled in each one long enough to make a sound judgement about life there.
But then I look around and see life here as we live it. A free and relatively secure country, many public services, good doctors and hospitals, a comfortable home, enough to eat and drink, plenty of books, gadgets to help us out, autos to take us where we want to go, our dogs to love, friends to come calling, and the web to play around in: what more can one have in this life? Get too involved in the dramas of the world or the nation and you risk creating great unhappiness in your life, with no time to sit, to reflect, to dream, and to enjoy what pleasures you have.
Most of the major themes of life have been explored and more or less settled now, so it is quite possible to watch the goings on, and let your opinions of them form around those themes you believe in. Not much could change my opinions here, except solid proof that they are wrong. But I needn't worry about that until it happens.
Meanwhile, I have developed a mindset that can cope: I needn't fret from issue to issue, and crisis to crisis, always trying to assess blame; perhaps not entirely serene, but far better than travelling an extremely bumpy and crooked road in an old flivver, cursing the rain, God, and a sore bottom, and complaining about it all the time.
"Should the whole frame of Nature round him break,
In ruin and confusion hurled, He, unconcerned, would hear the mighty crack,
And stand secure amidst a falling world."
Joseph Addison, Horace, Ode III, Book III
I couldn't agree more about conflict.I was lucky enough to live for a while in London in my younger days.I also got to visit Ireland and Scotland.There are places there of tranquility.Small villages in the Highlands or on the coast on the Emerald Isle with all the comforts of home.Although their idea of "football" leaves something to be desired.
Like you I would like to find a quiet oasis to raise my kids and be at peace.However my extended family is here and I don't wish to be without them.Now if I could convince all of them to go....
I also lived in London for three years a long time ago. And in Holland for another ten. Those places now are wildly different, except for the rural towns and villages. My children grew up in eastern Holland, where the contamination from drugs and licentious living was minimal (or at least carefully hidden!) They took away from there many useful things, chief among them being fluency in four languages: their native English, Dutch, German, and French. I guess I was too wedded to English (ossified, maybe?) to achieve more than a smattering of those languages, mainly Dutch.
We are far too dug in here now. Our nomad days are over, so thinking wistfully about living elsewhere is not fruitful...so we travel a lot when health permits.
I worry about our toxic culture's effect on my son.He is just a wee lad now and my wife and I hope for another or two.As you say the confrontational tone of all debate from both right and left is unsuitable to solve any problems that we need to address.
I often get carried away in the debate.Once again let me apologize for my confrontational words of yesterday.You are obviously well read,well travelled and a gentleman and your blog reflects this.I just need to try and see past the right and left and look at commonality.For the sake of all of our children.
I'm working on it.
I once had the opportunity of seeing the President's daily intelligence brief built up from start to finish. The process was awesome, and the background for what was presented was a plethora of facts, suppositions, and conjectures from some of the smartest people I have ever been around.
It was an enormous eye-opener too, for the wide range of situations, the continuity of thought, and the hidden conversations that take place daily at that level of government. Ever since, I have tried to put some faith in our agencies under quite difficult conditions. Obviously, there have been some terrible screwups in intel, since that time I had my birdseye view.
Unfortunately, I have lost touch with those I knew who would set the record straight for me. So I must monitor the flood of facts and opinions I see as best I can as a private citizen, and that is not easy. So I use my conservative filters very often.
I just surfed through and found you giving them hell over at Warblogging.
For my money,one of the best poitical discussion forums on the web.For liberals anyway.Not a lot of Right Words over there.
Now I can stop wondering where I heard your name.
In fact, I post there partly because I know very well what the opinions will be at Right Wing News, etc. WB gives me a challenge that talking to the choir doesn't. Cheers