The Hot Room

I guess I am writing today because I like to write. I’m in the hot room of the house; actually, it’s the room of extreme temperatures, I suppose, because it’s the cold room in winter. I have a runny nose–something going around Philadelphia or at least at my office this week. So, while I call this post the hot room, simply because I’ve changed into my shorts and can bear it long enough to say something, it’s not my topic. The topic is, what can we do about this mess that we are in? What mess, you say. Perhaps we’ll call it a conundrum of sorts.

We–the readers and writers of WordPress, are thinking people; not unlike many thinking persons reading and writing all kinds of thoughtful and thought-provoking stuff in the blogosphere these days. We are aware people: aware of housing prices, low job growth, terrorism (as an idea, at least), the costs of war, globalization, disease, famine and lots of good stuff that’s going on as well. Have you noticed that good news has gotten more and more anecdotal–affecting one or a few of us, while bad news affects hundreds if not hundreds of thousands at a time? What’s up with that? The last great thing that I know of that brought joy to millions in my community all at one time was winning the world series of baseball. We celebrated like we had won the war on terror, or drugs, or poverty. And there was, for a short time, a war on ignorance, fought by courageous teachers and school counselors deployed throughout the country. Well, it seems the latter ‘conflict’ is winding down. It was never a war, after all–requiring congressional deliberations and consent. It was more of a situation, where people living in counties underfunded by property taxes did not and do not get the quality education that one may have thought was their American birthright. Periodically, conscientious people, today’s abolishionists in my view, will rant about inequality and such; but to no avail. Now, the view that the fight for great education–let’s call it freedom from ignorance, since the war on terror intends to make us free from fear–is one we can’t win, is starting to prevail. More and more, legislatures, mayors and governors are saying we can’t afford to pay the troops (teachers and counselors); and things aren’t so bad these days anyway. Look, we don’t need everybody to be educated. Then we’ll be out of handymen, seamstresses and waiters. Ok, not waiters, it seems a college degree has become the prerequisite  to work at many a fine eatery.

Don’t get me wrong, as satirical as some of this may sound, or cynical to you optimists, I’m trying to convey a different sort of message. That we have been saddled with jokes, entertainment, fine food and music to the degree that, when we hear about how our society is going to hell in a hand basket, we call the message a buzz kill. Like the guys who predicted the economic collapse that happened and is still happening. They were ignored, laughed at, and otherwise marginalized. And the fact that they were right hardly helped anyone–even them. It really crystallizes the idea of shooting the messenger, in hopes that the message will go away.

Those of us who know better suffer from the “know better blues.” You have to pretend that the shows on tv, the big games or matches or some other trivial thing really does matter. Why? Because it matters a great deal to almost everyone we know. So I’ll play along. Am I saying I don’t like a great movie, or music or even a slamming party? Not saying that; but hey, there’s a bunch of work over here–hey, over here–that needs to be done. I’ve made up my mind to pay attention to global warming, the water shortage–underreported in the news– and the education crisis. I’ve been to many a party and had a ball, more fun, as they say, than the law should allow. So, it’s my time to help save something for the next generation, especially since I have one.

A final observation: in the history of mankind, it is very, very seldom, that more than a few individuals get together and commit to build a bridge to the future. Even the most intelligent among us seem to be absorbed by our own single-generation goals and aspirations. If someone says, “I want to make sure that there is still water on the planet by the end of this century for the people that should be here,” it sounds kind of dumb, don’t you think? You know neither you or I will be around, so who cares, right? Well, your kids and grandkids, you know. We wish them the very best of luck, really, sincerely. But am I gonna spend my golden years trying to do something about it? No. But let’s not condemn ourselves. Of the billions of folks who have ever walked this planet, only a handful have made the prosperity of future generations the focus of their life’s work. There’s a great story in the Bible of how Jesus, after having showed many a miracle to his followers, including his resurrection from the dead, still had to tell them he was coming back very soon, specifically before they died. I’m not calling my Savior a liar; but this just illustrates that people only care about what happens in their lifetime.  If he says I’ll be back in, oh, say 2000 (+) years, the disciples, not much different than you and I, would look at him like he’s lost it.

The bane of existence for thinking and well-informed people, is the truth. It’s what makes us sometimes envy the fun loving, ignorant people all around us who just want to have fun. Hey, we can have fun too. Let’s just make up our minds to do something really useful, while we’re at it.

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