As the world turns

For those of you old enough, you’ll remember a “daytime soap” called “As the World Turns“. It aired its final episode in 2010. I was never a big “soaps” fan, however, the title of the series always grabbed my attention, and I recall “as the world turns” being lampooned several times in my life time.

So, as the world turns:

  • It seems as if world leaders just never learn. Or maybe its a case of there being a dearth of leadership qualities and talent, period! Is it really possible that despite all our science and technological expertise, we are still getting beaten by a virus? First, a virus isn’t exactly the brightest organism in the world. It knows only on thing–replicate! Humans don’t even seem to have this on their “wish list” right now–flocking to the beaches in droves; holding political rallies with no physical distancing and mask; and pretty much doing everything they can to fuck themselves up (as my hero, John Oliver, would say).
  • Economically, even if you’re a numbers and trends geek (like I am), nothing that’s happened in the recent past, or is happening now, really makes any sense. For instance, unemployment numbers are flat (if not still rising); the housing crisis is in upward-trend mode; and healthcare (I still fondly call it “healthcare”) is fucked! (Again, thank you, John Oliver). All I’m hoping is that no one catches on to all of this, at least until my sweetheart and I can pull off our retirement.
  • Spiritually and holistically, we should have finally got the message. Take care of your planet (Earth, in this case). If the viral pandemic that’s currently playing out tells us anything, it is this: if you fuck with Mother Nature (thanks again, John), she will get you back! The principle is karma, or in plain English, the law of cause and effect. Nothing weird or woo-woo here, it’s a law of physics. If you mess with your causes, your effects will come an bite you in the end. (I’ll leave it to you, to guess which end.)

The world keeps turning, thank God, for the time being. So, all things being equal (see the law of karma above), we should have enough time (not too much, mind you) to get things straightened out.

First, we need to think about what we’re doing as individuals. For instance, if you’re using too much plastic? Cut it out! Remember: cause and effect.

Second, we need to think about who we’re listening to for advice. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with someone saying something because it will give that person a political advantage, but if political advantage is the only reason the person in question is saying it? Look elsewhere for advice! Please! And I really don’t care if you’re Republican, Democrat or any one of hundreds of other political belief systems. Be human first, and political second.

Last, sort of following along in the same vein as the last point, if you’re thinking to gain any economic advantage in any of this–good luck! If I was a betting man (and aren’t we all), I’d say there are going to be very few winners when all of the economical factors and trends play out. And I’m not nearly smart enough to forecast where those trends are leading and who the winners and the losers are going to be. So, treat your neighbors well. You can never tell when you’re going to need each other!

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What is the meaning of life…etcetera.

I’m looking at a crummy title. The “meaning of life”? Really? Could it really be that easy? As the Dalai Lama says, “To be happy and useful.” Seems simple.

A short time ago, I published an article What if this is all there is? My wife, Jan, asks the same question in somewhat different way, in a somewhat different article, Meaningful Conversations. Her question is (implied) what is the value of “small talk” vs. “meaningful conversation.

We have all been through a lot recently.

  • A viral pandemic that has ravaged the earth, along with all of its political and financial complication. Something that none of us, even in our wildest imaginings could have foreseen.
  • The shame of slavery–one human being using and subjugating another for profit–thrown up in our faces. The result of an illustration–in this case, police brutality–which could have been illustrated just about any other way.
  • The collapse of a civilization (perhaps). Of which the previous two challenges–disease and cruelty–are but symptoms.

Starting backwards, last point first: humans are the only creatures that are capable of cruelty. An animal is incapable of deliberately inflicting pain–for any reason–on one of its own, or on any other species. Human beings are alone in being capable of doing this–of letting it happen. If we aren’t deliberately being cruel, can’t we focus on being kind instead? How about deliberately touching someone in a kind and meaningful way?

Second bullet point: When is it cruel to just fly on autopilot? To just let racial injustice and mistreatment happen? When we have the capability as humans to do otherwise? To behave in a kind, belonging way? Autopilot is always wrong, if not merely misguided. And as a human being–having the biggest brain and world dominance (at least, we think)–there’s GOT to be something wrong with just flying on autopilot and saying, “The status quo is good enough,”

This is possibly the point of Jan’s article. Why fly on auto (“small talk”) when we can offer so much more?

First bullet point last. Yes, we are living in “unprecedented times”. (Aren’t you getting tired of that phrase.) However, there are footnotes throughout history about how humans have dealt with prolonged isolation; the daily threat of disease and the loss of not only family, but a way of life (i.e. how to grieve). The 1918 flu pandemic is often used as an example. The early-20th century flu pandemic was in a lot ways a very similar experience. However, if you Google “the 1918 influenza pandemic art”, you will see powerful images and occasionally even a musical score (as below) that was generated as a result of the pain, and separation that resulted from the world being gripped by another horrible disease.

I’ll stop here and let you listen to the Dalai Lama, as he talks us through, what the meaning of life may be…

Look familiar?
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