Ted’s Head was fried last week. After a 22 hour plane ride from South Africa and a bunch of time zone changes my fragile brain needed awhile to get back into equilibrium. I had hoped to revel you all with tales of wild animals and deep philosophical insights I had gleaned from the African continent. I was incredibly moved by so many things but my local Trader Joe’s was fresh out of locusts and honey and Brooks Brothers no longer sells loin cloths….and also a thing called Paris occurred.
One of my title’s for this week’s missive was going to be “Reality Sucks”….and sometimes it does. We all have our cave of some sort. We may roam our estates, find a niche at that perfect little cafe or just curl up and veg out in front of the TV for about nine straight hours of football. We have gotten good at avoiding conflict or bad news. We live in a fantasy world. I am not trying to burst bubbles but we have developed this great facility to explain away things.
The Irish have a great saying about Uncle Joe who arrives shit faced for the family celebration of one sort or another. He slurs his words, becomes argumentative at the table and then either falls over a chair or hurls on the brand new living room rug. The mother or wife looks on forlornly at the debacle and announces in a soft voice,”You know, he has the weakness.” Code words for we know there is a problem but we are not going to address it.
ISIL’s massacre was as wanton and heartless as you can get. I found myself agreeing with Hollande for a change as he put his French savoir faire aside and declared war with righteous indignation. Although I hate war it was appropriate. I found myself cursing out Obama for saying hours earlier how we had the zealots contained. Just like when he had called them the Junior Varsity and Bush had proclaimed triumphantly, “Mission Accomplished”so many years earlier. Arrogance or ignorance? Name your poison. Just SHUT UP!
We live in Fantasyland whether we shop on Rodeo Drive or Walmart.We buy stuff for the sake of stuff. Our kids are spoiled rotten. We dream of more and more wealth and riches when what we have already goes beyond the pale. I am not trying to talk down the commonweal but man couldn’t we be a little more tasteful about it?
In South Africa I watched people dealing with life straight on. Funny how 25% unemployment, HIV/AIDS and living in a cardboard container in a township can do that to you. Walk 5 miles each way to school and sometimes you can’t study because there is no electricity. Just a ride means so much. Forget about whether or not it is an ox cart or truck. BMW, Mercedes? Are you kidding? My first Monday back I opened the Wall Street Journal to an ad about privately leased jets. They were going to redo all their fleet by some famous designer to give you the ultimate in luxury. As if the non hassled ride was not enough?
Look at where we are today. As a country we have to address illegal immigration, tax reform, the deficit, entitlements and foreign policy. We have to meet end of life head on and realize that we can’t afford to give people an extra three months of lousy quality of life for $250,000. We have to address our addictions for food, booze and or drugs and not rely on some sort of rehab or pill to bail us out. We always think it is the other guy to blame but if we are honest we see it in our own lives every day.
In days gone by we used to identify in our cities by a neighborhood or a parish. Then we went beyond to a state or region. Soon it was by country and then a hemisphere. Sorry kids but today we are a world. Jet travel and the internet have made us one. You may not think Syria affects you but it does. Warfare begets refugees that wind up somewhere. I can play it cool and say not in my backyard but that creates a whole new set of problems. Globally there are vast numbers of unemployed 16-25 year olds. They have no jobs and no hope. All of a sudden 5 seconds of recognition as a suicide bomber doesn’t look so bad. You think it is an exaggeration to say it involves all of us. Think again.
I don’t want to spoil the party or rain on the parade but yes, reality does suck. I want to have as much fun as the next person but this horrible thing called pragmatism keeps jumping in the way. The crazy thing is I am not campaigning for total withdrawal nor absolute sobriety. I am talking about a sense of propriety and yes civility. We are going to have terrorists. They are fact of life and we are easy prey because of our shallowness in understanding and dealing with today’s problems. Dunno doesn’t cut it anymore.
In these presidential debates, however laborious they are, there are answers. Not from one side or the other but both.It is not an either or but all of us collaborating and yes giving up some our treasured goals and sacred cows. We all have the weakness. We better get working on getting rid of it…before it is too late.
Ted The Great
The number of followers of ISIS range between 30-100,000. They are trying to hold the 7 billion or so inhabitants of the world hostage and doing a fair job of it. That’s about one creep for every 700,000 of us. Terror thrives on fear. How comfortable do you feel today? This is the only factoid we need.