The Breaking of Hope

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    • #334335
      David the Gnome
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 2,609

      I’m feeling particularly sad today – most days I do, but today it is especially so.  Perhaps it is because I’ve been listening to Billy Joel’s “Piano man” and “Downeaster Alexa” – always puts a lump in my throat.  It makes me think a great deal about the working class, about my parents, my grandparents – their parents before them, so many who came from so little, or from nothing, to ultimately come to have homes in America.  None of us, to my knowledge, are native American, not even a little – which is unfortunate, I think I’d be proud of that heritage.  Anyhow… they came from Ireland and Scotland primarily – a few came in the early years (particularly during the revolutionary war) and a few came much later, during the potato famine in Ireland (according to legend, one who left Scotland left because his mother did not like the young lady he was courting – and chased them both out of the house with a broom).

      That is a bit of history.  Things wax and wane, of course, the first to come were by no means well off.  My Great Grandfather, particularly on my Mother’s side, was (though certainly not a millionaire).  He was a lawyer, superintendent of the local school, owned several properties.  His daughter, who married my Grandfather came of age in a very different situation.  Oh, they had a nice home still, regular bridge games (or so I was told by the elderly neighbor – 90s – who told me stories as a boy) and there was still a certain “reputation” as coming from a “good family” as my great grandfather was one of the founders of the local bank – Aroostook Savings & Loan.  Its much more of a typical bank today and he is long gone, along with the intent of those who founded it.

      My Grandfather was a school teacher, my mother a nurse – my father an English major who couldn’t handle the politics of teaching in public school, so went to work for the hospital – first as a volunteer, later as a PR assistant, later still as a PR director.  My sisters and I came along… the eldest, 46 or so now, is an English teacher who has worked at a variety of public schools, spent some time in the private sector – and for the department of corrections (probation officer or something like that, I think).  Another was a Waitress until recently – now works as a receptionist in a Doctor’s office – and the youngest is a Nanny.  Me, I’m not working at present – disabled, at least until the government does its review again.

      Looking back through perhaps the rose colored lenses of my own family history, while there were various ups and downs… it seems that things have gone down quite dramatically in recent years.  All of my sisters have college degrees, none of them make enough to be quite “middle class”, though they certainly do quite a bit better than their unemployed brother, the only one who didn’t finish college.

      My father and mother earned a good living, they spent decades to make it so – but most of those I see now, degree or not, are falling through the cracks.  It isn’t just this damn virus, it is one generation, one decade after another in which wealth has been consolidated into the hands of the very wealthy.  Now I believe we are seeing the final results of that kind of disaster capitalism.  Of giving to the rich, protecting the rich, all but worshiping the rich, while ignoring the lack of upward mobility, wages, healthcare and so on and so forth.  Public school teachers spend their own money every year to pay for supplies for their classes, because there just isn’t money in the budget for it… its all gone to the corporations and the millionaires.

      As things grow ever more grim in terms of the economic and social outlook… I can’t help but wonder… what was it all for?  The generations that broke their backs, worked their fingers to the bone?  None of them were rich, none of them started out even in what we define today as the “middle class”.  My sisters and I will do rather less well than my parents when all is said and done.  Our children are likely to be poorer still.  How is it that the Country which takes such pride in the statue of liberty… has become an oligarchy?  Or, as a good friend likes to put it, a kleptocracy?  There was, so I am told, a time when the wealthy were taxed, when people believed in supporting the welfare of their fellow Americans, a time when upward mobility was much more common.

      Or perhaps, that too, is looking through rose colored lenses.  I can only say that, as I watch so much crumble from my quiet corner of the world… there is truly not much hope left.  Those who should have protected it have neglected their duties for the sake of ambition and greed.  Those who should have acted with wisdom and responsibility were capable of (or at least practiced) neither.  Now, while we face this crisis in the economy, in society (and again – I don’t just mean the pandemic, though that was the spark that lit the fuse)… somehow Congress is on “recess”.  That is, they are permitted to leave without having actually come to any kind of resolution or solution… to do a god damn thing, given that what is being tried right now is not working.. I’ve got to say, what the hell?

      Every member of congress earns more than twice what my Father does – and he is what you could call comfortably middle class.  Billionaires like Kanye West are getting loans for their businesses – Trump’s super PAC got a loan!  In the days to come, I expect we’ll learn about even more economic insanity.

      The way to repair a broken economy is not to give every penny to the rich.  It is to promote and ultimately enable upward mobility.  That is simply not happening.  The democrats (with some exceptions, perhaps) are not progressive enough, or decent enough to support it.  The Republicans… hell, I don’t know, maybe they’re all just eager for the apocalypse.

      There are articles appearing from time to time about potential vaccines and treatments for the virus, but as yet they have borne no fruit.  There is talk about dealing with “racial injustice”, but again, the government and its elected officials have failed to act.  There is precious little talk about economic justice, or about how to stem the rising tidal wave of poverty, eviction, foreclosure, hunger and so on and so forth.  All of this contributes into one hell of a shit stew.

      I struggle to maintain some hope – to try to find reasons for optimism.  Hell, I even google “good news” from time to time so I don’t lose my damn mind… but…

      Those who were elected to lead us have abandoned all but the wealthy – which I suppose is as expected – most of them are wealthy too.  Day after day, week after week.. their idiotic action and lack of action is breaking hope.  It is going to cost many, many lives… a friend of mine suggests that 30 million families will soon lose most if not all of their support.  What happens then?  This is what I mean by the breaking of hope – there is not much on the horizon that looks better, either.  Joe Biden as President over the Senate/Congress/conglomerate lobbyist organization?  Not so much.

      Perhaps in the next life, or in an alternate universe, but as for me…

      I expect terrible things are coming.  Anyone with any sense is worried right now.  It isn’t paranoia or doomsday stuff, other Countries might well be okay.. for a while.  Ours is not.  People are suffering and dying – and those who could act to help them are doing nothing.  Broken hope, dreams, lives… families… all too common now – and with the lack of action, we can expect worse to come…

      I hope that I am too much of a cynic.  That someone can perhaps, explain to me why I am wrong, foolish, paranoid, whatever.  I truly do.  Though I would respectfully ask that if you do so – avoid being a dick about it, just not in the mood for snark today.

      Wishing the best for all of you – and still hoping some, that there are enough good people left to turn this shit around.  The will and the effort… basically, the Serenity Prayer.

    • #334348
      David the Gnome
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 2,609

      I am thinking about perhaps using this as a draft for a somewhat shorter editorial piece.  I don’t know, maybe I should actually put some effort into trying to publish something or other.  My skills as a writer are… unpolished, largely due to a lack of more formal education.  Perhaps someone can tell me if it would be worth the time and effort.

    • #334353
      MizzGrizz
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 2,062

      My hope is gone too.We’re a shithole country and we will be till the torches and pitchforks finally come..and then we’ll probably be even more of a shithole country.

      And the system has made it impossible for there to be ANYTHING but torches and pitchforks as the path to change.They took away our last hope when they stomped Bernie.In the old days,they probably would have shot him,but collective emasculation does the trick now.

      The stolen election against Booker in Kentucky demonstrates once again how totally rigged this system is for the rich and well to do.

      I came from a family that had status without money.In those days,particularly in the South where ancestry was everything,that was possible.It is still possible there to a certain degree,and probably has a lot to do with why the professional class hates it so much.But you and I,David,will be the last generation who can say “we come from old line good people”and have that mean something.Nothing matters now and nothing ever will again,but money.

      And the election—forget it,who gives a damn.

    • #334362
      David the Gnome
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 2,609

      @mizzgrizz

      I know I tend to be long-winded in my writing – and it can be a lot to read, so I really appreciate it.  I also think that you are most likely right.  Unfortunately, when those torches and pitchforks come out for real… if they come out for real… the result for quite some time will be chaos.  Generally speaking, out of chaos (at least, of the sort I would expect), more authoritarian governments tend to rise.  Someone like Trump or Biden?  Highly, highly unlikely.  No, they are middle men and corporate pawns at best.  It would be someone of a much more severe ideology, perhaps even a sort of military dictatorship.  According to some poll I read way back when, a growing number of Americans would actually support a military government, as opposed to what we have now.  I’m not sure if that’s as crazy as I’ve always been told, or if it would actually be better than this corporate conglomerate.  At least the military tends to get shit done – even if its usually bad shit.

      The election… yeah.  I’ve been reading articles today in which all kinds of people are condemning Trump for failing to pass a “must pass” defense bill.  If it was actually for defense, of course, it wouldn’t be that much.  No… they are playing around in the south China Sea, in Afghanistan, in Syria and other places… when we really need them at home.  I do not know if our military will be needed simply for the sake of stability, but it come could to that.  There are far too many over seas.  There is far too much being spent to fund a global empire while Rome – America in this case – is burning.  Not all at once, things are worse in some states than in others, but one affects the other… like dominos.  We stand or fall together… and I expect most of will fall.

      Dear universe, let it be so that I am wrong, grown too paranoid and ultimately kinda crazy in my isolation – and if I am crazy and right, please don’t tell me.

    • #334369
      MizzGrizz
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 2,062

      ..but you’re probably right in your assessment.What follows the pitchforks and torches will undoubtedly be worse.That is the lesson of history.

    • #334371
      ThouArtThat
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 3,377

      @davidthegnome

      Hi david,

      Nothing wrong with reminiscing from time to time.  However, whatever that world was is dead and gone.  What remains is the insight of history.

      As things grow ever more grim in terms of the economic and social outlook… I can’t help but wonder… what was it all for?

      The historical insight is simple: the 99% are economic slaves to the 1% in one form or another.  The whole American enterprise has always been a ponzi scheme such that the elite could extract a percentage of profit from hourly labors.  Each citizen living lives of quiet desperation in return for just enough comfort to keep the wolf at the door.  Some a little more, some a little less.  Though by comparison, always much, much less than the 1%.

      The truth has always been there, hidden in plain sight.  Yet, we refused to see it for what it was and is.  Instead we wanted to believe in a fairy tale called the America Dream.  And to add insult to injury, that dream was always promoted by the masters to give “hope” to the economic slaves.  In effect, “hope” became sophisticated propaganda to manipulate and control the masses while distracting from reality.

      And that reality is the simple truth that America has always been a hustle for survival.  All the talk about economic fairness, equality and meritocracy is just that talk.  Pull back the curtain and it’s all a sham writ large.  Yes, a few do prosper; most do not.  That hustle for survival is a debilitating walk through life working in dead end jobs for amoral corporations year upon year.  And each year we hold out our hands and beg for “a little more” from our masters.  A Bataan death march for the soul.

      In such a system the question has but one answer – life will only ever be what you make of it for your self.  Any expectation of affirmation from a soulless society is an expectation doomed to disappoint.  Said society has but one point – make the millionaires and billionaires wealthier.  All the while one must pretend to be happy doing so or else life can be even more miserable.  If you want personal satisfaction, security and growth, you are on your own.

      Many have said the same over time.  One of the best is historian Morris Berman.

      The Twilight of American Culture  – 2000
      Dark Ages America: The Final Phase of Empire – 2006
      Why America Failed: The Roots of Imperial Decline – 2011

      When asked by young people what they should do, Berman’s answer is swift and sure, leave America while you still can.  I suggest one read authors like Berman for sanity and perspective.  His insight on the American Hustle is clear and unsullied much like late comedian George Carlin.

      For those in desperation, the wise words of Tracy Chapman ring true to these eyes and ears.

      In the end, it all boils down to one thing as Andy tells Red in Shawshank Redemption:

      “Get Busy Living Or Get Busy Dying.”

      Else, living in the past or expecting America to change is to become the walking dead.

      TAT

      Rights aren't rights if someone can take them away. They're privileges.
      That's all we've ever had in this country, is a bill of temporary privileges.

      - George Carlin

      Sooner or later we all sit down to a banquet of consequences.

      - Robert Louis Stevenson

      Politics is the entertainment division of the Military Industrial Complex.

      - Frank Zappa

    • #334374
      MizzGrizz
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 2,062

      @thouartthat.

      For those of us too old or poor to leave and go to Canada or France,Berman recommends what he calls the monastic solution—read,think,avoid the monster box as much as possible,surround yourself with as much beauty and art as you can,develop a respect for history,and avoid the world as much as possible.

      Read him,everyone.He diagnoses our problem as a society to the letter.

    • #334378
      ThouArtThat
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 3,377

      @mizzgrizz

      Hi mg,

      Yes – Berman is right for those that remain and his recommendation is the only rational option for those ejected by the system.

      A wise man with profound insight on the American condition.

      TAT

      Rights aren't rights if someone can take them away. They're privileges.
      That's all we've ever had in this country, is a bill of temporary privileges.

      - George Carlin

      Sooner or later we all sit down to a banquet of consequences.

      - Robert Louis Stevenson

      Politics is the entertainment division of the Military Industrial Complex.

      - Frank Zappa

    • #334380
      David the Gnome
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 2,609

      @thouartthat

      My only argument is about leaving America.  If all of those of us with the will to work or fight for something better leave, it will be consumed by the right wing.  If that should happen, I would wager nothing against a nuclear war, as I don’t think Countries like Russia and China would keep putting up with our shit.  Hell, they might not anyway – not like there is much “left” of the left, not really.

      Perhaps it is all inevitable that shit will just keep going downhill.  Looking at the Heroes act yesterday gave me a brief glimmer of hope, until I realized that it had so few sponsors and a snowball’s chance in hell, on top of being 1800 pages long… yep, you can bet there is some really funky stuff in THAT legislation.  Not that most of us would understand it even if we did read it.

      I also liked the Shawshank Redemption – one of the films my Grandfather always kept.  I think it is important to remember though… that while Andy went through all that fucked up shit – he did eventually tunnel out and end up on a beach.  Eh, perhaps that is just Hollywood though, in real life, he’d probably have gotten himself killed for knowing too much about the Warden’s finances.

      The hustle for survival doesn’t have to be what it is… but until there is a real organized movement to fight for something better, well, it will probably remain as it is.  I am not sure what the answer is, torches and pitchforks, focusing on our own lives and our own needs… or, as so many have valiantly struggled to do, to try to make things a little better for the majority, for the common good.  Just because things have always been a certain way does not need that they need to remain so.  Perhaps I am being naive, but… I don’t know, in this disaster there is great potential for chaos – but also great potential for change.  It may not come until most of our Country is in ashes, but it could still come if we fight for it.

      The left is going to have to organize and fight back if we really want that change.  That is… definitely contributing to this breaking of hope.  Sanders withdrawing and supporting Biden… yeah.  The new Boss could be even worse than the old Boss – he’s even more of a hawk.  Congress has abdicated its power and responsibility – and the President becomes more and more like a puppet-King, with the wealthy and very wealthy pulling his strings.  I wonder who ultimately tells Trump what to do.  Somehow I don’t think it is Putin.  The big money men in charge of the federal reserve, perhaps?

    • #334389
      closeupready
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 1,361

      That doesn’t mean I have only good days and happy times.  I have bad days, too, but I’ve had some really challenging times in my own life for reference as truly “Bad,” and I haven’t really come close to those kinds of days since my late teens.

      Our society is kind of ridiculous, in which young people aspire to become Hollywood personalities, but in the process, lose their health, souls and even lives.  Obviously, most parents want their children to be happy and successful, but how many of those parents would approve of the pursuit of stardom if the potential cost is catastrophic?

      Some would still be okay with that because they got rich despite getting messed up, too, and that’s the kind of society we seem to have.

      The opinions and personal views expressed herein are solely those of the author, and should never be taken seriously.

    • #334390
      ThouArtThat
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 3,377

      @davidthegnome

      Hi david,

      There is nothing wrong with spending some of one’s life energy on change.  However, there is a big difference between participating and being consumed.  Allowing one’s self to be consumed by long odd causes can only lead to disappointment more often than not.  Best to keep perspective in these matters instead of wallowing in false hope.

      Such was the dilemma for Andy in Shawshank Redemption.  Become institutionalized or seek a different way forward.  Most Americans settle for becoming institutionalized.  And in that choice they become consumed not by a prison but by the system we call capitalism – forever on a treadmill toward death in service of their masters.  When Andy saw his chance, he acted – Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying.

      As to leaving America, it all depends one’s expectations out of life.  If one wants to be a living martyr, then stay.  If one wants to have some small peace of mind and dignity in the short span of a lifetime, then leave.  As Berman suggests, if one cannot leave and does not want to become a martyr, then practice monasticism within the maelstrom called America.

      TAT

      Rights aren't rights if someone can take them away. They're privileges.
      That's all we've ever had in this country, is a bill of temporary privileges.

      - George Carlin

      Sooner or later we all sit down to a banquet of consequences.

      - Robert Louis Stevenson

      Politics is the entertainment division of the Military Industrial Complex.

      - Frank Zappa

    • #334403
      Fasttense
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 873

      A lot of countries have a requirement that you have to have a lump sum of savings, usually in the tens of thousands, to obtain citizenship. To get a working visa is even harder.

      Gone are the days where you could travel to developed nations without visas, fees and buracratic paperwork. Most all countries have very strict immigration policies unless you have a relative living there….chain migration anyone?

      But all that is mute now with the coronavirus. If you are brave enough to risk infection from traveling, your choices maybe limited. Many developed nations are now requiring 14 days of quarantine or outright ban Americans.

    • #334412
      elias39
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 4,796

      are moving to Amsterdam in the fall. He was offered a teaching job at the university there. I don’t even know what restrictions they’ll be under – whether the job has a limited time span, if they’ll continue as ex-pats, whether he’ll have to continue paying US taxes on income, whether they’ll have to quarantine when they get there, or a number of other things/restrictions. He’s in such a dither right now I’m not sure he even knows the answers to those questions yet.

      FWIW, I’ll be glad to pass along any info I can chisel out of him in his whirlwind life-change when I can. Calling him these days is like calling Sears to get authorization to return an item I purchased on-line – a LONG wait.

    • #334413
      FedUp
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 444

      Yes, getting out isn’t easy. For the sake of sanity, best to find a remote corner if you can and hunker down. I’m into my golden years which are currently being spent caring for my 97 year old mother. When her earthly journey comes to an end, I intend to follow my own advice, find some out of the way place, surround myself with books, and live out my days in solitude.

    • #334429
      Voltairine
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 1,797

      Monastic solution is not a bad advice. Most important is to keep your balance and feel well… enough. That is the precondition for being able to be source of strength to your community, should you feel inclined to share your resources of time, compassion etc. together with others.

      Aloha!

    • #334439
      MizzGrizz
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 2,062

      As an agoraphobia,I have basically practiced the monastic option since early 1975.It seems to have worked…

      I refer to this time and again as my guide for these times,but I recall reading on a National Geographic magazine way back when about what people in East Berlin did when the Wall went up.They had no hope,so they turned inward.

       

    • #334440
      Ohio Barbarian
      Moderator
      • Total Posts: 14,814

      @thouartthat Leaving the country is not an option for most of us. I’m pretty sure it’s not an option for you. I know it is not for me, or for @davidthegnome . Other countries also have this thing about requiring employers to hire their own citizens first if one is not a refugee, and I’d rather die with a weapon in my hands and a couple of dead enemies at my feet before becoming a refugee. Been there, seen that, no thanks.

      People who casually make that suggestion can stick it where the sun don’t shine. That is all.

      It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it.--Eugene Debs

      Show me a man that gets rich by being a politician, and I'll show you a crook.--Harry Truman

    • #334463
      PolecatHollerer
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 1,118

      @davidthegnome

      ‘Twould absolutely, positively be an excellent use of your time and effort.

      If you give a man enough rope, it will be six inches too short. This is not the nature of rope- it is the nature of man.

    • #334467
      David the Gnome
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 2,609

      @ohiobarbarian

      Also, I doubt either you or I would leave without our families, who probably either wouldn’t or couldn’t come with us.  Not sure I could even talk my fiance into it, even if we had the money.  I’ve considered it, but i don’t think it can happen for me, either.

    • #334469
      Ohio Barbarian
      Moderator
      • Total Posts: 14,814

      @davidthegnome I’m in my 60s, Mrs. Barbarian in her late 50s, and her grown kids wouldn’t move to say, France or England, if we did. We might do it if we had a million bucks or so, but that possibility is so remote it’s not even a pipe dream.

      I checked into several countries once back in 1982 or so. Without a native sponsor or money, it’s damned near impossible, I don’t care what anyone might say. It’s who you know and how much you have, as is often the case.

      It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it.--Eugene Debs

      Show me a man that gets rich by being a politician, and I'll show you a crook.--Harry Truman

    • #334478
      closeupready
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 1,361

      In part because most people who expatriate are rich, and for rich people, it’s hard to get as good a deal as they get in the US.  That could change.

      Tina Turner, of course, gave up her citizenship.  But as one of the richest, most famous black American women in the world, she’s a big fish in the little pond of Switzerland, without the routine racism which even people like Oprah Winfrey get.  So it would make sense, in one way, if she said the upsides outbalanced the downsides.

      But Madonna, Johnny Depp, Michael Jackson, Faye Dunaway … lots of these people lived abroad, but came back.  They may all have homes abroad, but reside primarily/technically in the US.

      The world has lost a lot of its innocence – you can’t just disappear anymore, like people did pre-internet/satellite communications.  So for the rich, just buy in place in a gated community in Los Angeles, where you can keep people out, and at least enjoy some measure of privacy.

      Anyway, just thinking out loud here, lol.

      The opinions and personal views expressed herein are solely those of the author, and should never be taken seriously.

    • #334819
      ThouArtThat
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 3,377

      @ohiobarbarian

      Hi ob,

      Yep – understand that most have neither the means nor the will to leave.  That is why historian Morris Berman always mentions the “Monastic Option”.  In short, one frames one’s life in such a way that surviving American Culture and Politics does not unnecessarily drive one to depression and nihilism.  Berman is very clear that this is the only option for many.  His advice to leave is given primarily to students graduating high school or college with little vested in the system called American Corporate Slavery.

      TAT

      Rights aren't rights if someone can take them away. They're privileges.
      That's all we've ever had in this country, is a bill of temporary privileges.

      - George Carlin

      Sooner or later we all sit down to a banquet of consequences.

      - Robert Louis Stevenson

      Politics is the entertainment division of the Military Industrial Complex.

      - Frank Zappa

    • #334821
      MizzGrizz
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 2,062

      Trump’s Wall isn’t to keep the immigrants out,you know.It’s to keep us in.

      Like the East Berliners,the only option is to turn inward..books,music,art,anything to keep one sane..and with the pandemic,nobody in their right mind is going out anyway,or consuming consuming consuming.

      Just sit on the sidelines and let it all fall down.

    • #334893
      Ohio Barbarian
      Moderator
      • Total Posts: 14,814

      @thouartthat It helps me, anyway. I suppose Mr. Spock summed it up well in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country when he told another Vulcan, Logic is only the beginning of wisdom. One must have faith that the universe will unfold as it was intended. 

      It’s an act of faith in the universe, and is not logical, and I’m not preaching that it is The Truth, because I don’t know, but it’s all I’ve got and it works for me. Sort of monastic in a way, I suppose.

      It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it.--Eugene Debs

      Show me a man that gets rich by being a politician, and I'll show you a crook.--Harry Truman

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