Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I keep looking....for an optimist.

Over the last year or so, I have consciously spent time talking with people about what they think is in store for America, and the planet. I have tried to make an effort to not sway these conversations in any particular direction, but rather to listen and find out what people think, feel, sense is happening now, and what it might lead to. There have been many such conversations. And, in every single case what I have found is a uniform sense of dread, of fearful foreboding that the train is speeding down the tracks towards a fiery wreck.

Again, I have not tried to insert my own opinions, nor sway anybody else's opinion. I considered this quest as a kind of impromptu research and I remain genuinely interested in hearing how people from a wide variety of socio-economic backgrounds are perceiving our present predicament....and it is that. With 14 million Americans unemployed, many of them long-term and without hope of finding a job, housing stagnated, mortgages continuing to be foreclosed at an alarming rate, the stock-market (where so many have their futures invested) with a permanent case of the jitters, slamming wildly up and down on seeming whims.....Americans are collectively holding their breaths and waiting to see what this political season brings.

The media have made sure we know how abysmal Barack Obama's approval ratings are--at 44%--but, they seem to slide over the fact that the approval ratings for the entire legislative branch hover somewhere near or in the single digits. Congress is acting like a bunch of adolescent brats, each with his or her personal agenda, and unwilling to compromise, despite the suffering it imposes on Americans at large. The Tea Party has legitimized itself by getting into league with CNN now....and yet they apparently make up only approximately 18% of the population. But, because they are so loud and obnoxious in their presence, one might think they were the majority. Far from it.

So, here's the bottom-line: I am still looking for a single intelligent person who is expressing a solidly grounded optimistic view of where all this is leading. I have not been able to find such a person for over a year now. At a pre-wedding gathering a month ago, I met a remarkable person. John Howe is a retired engineer who held patents on exotic sports equipment and made enough to retire to a hill-side farm here in Maine thirty years ago. (click on the title bar to visit his site and see what he is all about) In his mid-seventies, John is a mensa bright soul, and his strength has always been his left-brained ability to quantify problems, leading to, of course, a sound engineering solution. Well, he's been crunching the numbers for some years now on the amount of oil, rate of population increase, rate of development in India, China, etc. He has spent considerable energy gathering and quantifying all the factors that are in play with regard to how we will be conducting our lives as we proceed into the future. And, he looked at me, at one point in our conversation, and said, "I used to think none of it mattered because I wouldn't be here anyway. But, now I know I will because we're right on the 'tipping point'."

Think about it. What he's saying is that by our own actions, with our stultifying unwillingness to address even problems that we know are potentially going to cause our own extinction....we have managed to accelerate the speed of that train as it hurtles down the tracks.

And, the GOP candidate who leads in the polls today.....says that climate change, global warming, is not scientifically proven. The person who is quite possibly going to be the dominant 'decider' in our near future.....thinks it is all 'made up' by some ill-intended scientists who just want to make a big deal out of it.

He also gleamed his great big ol' Texas smile when the crowd of Tea Baggers at the CNN-Tea Party debate the other night, roared its approval of his unprecedented execution rate as governor.

Yesssuh.....we be in a heap o' trouble. One big ol' steamin' HEAP.

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