Another melancholia-soaked day in the wetlands province. The air itself is heavy with portent, the intensity and weight of event seems unavoidable now. As of yesterday, another friend has been laid off her job--a brilliant social worker and specialist in finding needed community resources for her health-clinic patients. The healthcare system we both work for has been drastically cutting jobs and budgets across the spectrum (except for managers and senior-level administrators, of course). Even my own fulltime hours have been cut from 40 to 36 as of April 1st. Thankfully, my health benefits remain intact, although my premiums will be higher. Even healthcare employees pay for healthcare insurance, with a full complement of copays. As I am now on a prescribed treatment for my RA, if I was uninsured, my injected medication would cost me $14,000/year!
The news everywhere everyday now feels urgently bad, consistently negative and relentlessly unforgiving. This morning the report that Afghani children had been gunned down by American forces led me to turn off the radio, unable to comprehend the enormity of that grief, unable to tune out the anguish screaming all the way to Portland from Kabul. (And as for supporting our troops? What the hell did that ever even mean? As far as I can tell, it's a manufactured distraction from the reality of this country's true priority: war-mongering.
The president I voted for with a degree of hope--I'll admit it!--has fostered yet another inept, impotent, posturing administration, faltering its way globally and stupidly toward seemingly endless conflicts, and oblivious to drastic conditions at home requiring dramatic corrections and the courage to make them--if sanity can be restored to our national priorities at all. There is contentious, rhetorical horseshit spewing from every politician's mouth, nationally and locally. And we only seem to speak in absolutes, either-ors, must-haves or must-have-nots. Where is consensus? What has happened to reason? And why are outright lies permitted to stand as if truth?
Because I'm 60 and have paid attention for a long time, I have what I feel is a rather informed perspective on certain things in my Pacific-Northwestern American point of view. It's not merely generational differences. I think our formerly innately American orientation toward generosity and a sense of shared abundance seems to have been not just lost, but thoroughly, cynically trashed in the past decade.
Since 9/11 and its attendant national paranoia (hello, Homeland Security), and the vituperative, escalating idiocy of two full terms of the Bush administration, our collective memory seems to have gone all Alzheimer's. Duplicitous conservative bombasts like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are wildly financially rewarded, thus becoming arrogantly entitled, not to mention oddly free of national criticism. I have been complaining of journalistic indifference to investigative effort since the early years of the Reagan administration, and the lack of journalistic interest in pursuing the motivations of conservative agendas still staggers me.
I digress. The bottom line here is that as a country, as a nation, as a social culture, we have lost any unifying identity as Americans. I observe (and live!) the differences in economic classes here in Portland, and can see clearly that there is going to be a reckoning of some kind soon. Our national policies are a jumbled collection of junk rhetoric and opportunistic politics. There is nothing coherent about our immigration policies, healthcare priorities, national security (!), agriculture--er, I mean, agribusiness--education, criminal justice, fair housing, employment, or anything else that would unify us as a people. In fact, we don't seem to be able to agree on anything anymore, except we sure are interested in Charlie Sheen and Justin Bieber. Lord, help us.