It’s always darkest right before the dawn

Jeffrey - Santa Cruz, California
Entered on December 18, 2008
Age Group: 50 - 65
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It’s very early in the morning and I keep thinking of silly metaphors to describe the onslaught of history changing events of past several months, I can hardly organize my ideas into a coherent sentence without feeling utterly negative. Each time I attempt to focus my attention on the possibilities of things to come, better days ahead etc., I can’t shake the shadows of doubt that lurk inside my deepest thoughts and I wonder aloud more than I ever have – -how did all this happen?

All what one might ask? For starters the stratospheric ascent of fuel prices and the equally dizzying free-fall of the same in a two month period, the catastrophic unraveling of everything Americans have come to count on regarding their most prized sanctuary their homes, and the dismal state of the mortgage industry which supports it, the collapse of financial services sector, the corruption of promises and trust coupled with the most astounding examples of corporate and personal greed – – the motto of the day being ‘make a buck at all costs’ even if those costs mean the compromising the very foundation of our free market system, Karl Marx would have a field day if he were still alive today, and I suspect there are a lot of us who might suddenly feel his ideas about the State and capitalism were not so far fetched after all.

Over this past year institutions that have been in business for generations were wiped out in a matter of weeks, the auto industry so blind and ill prepared to think Green or design transportation that advances consumer-friendly technology instead of outrageous, over-the-top automobiles that burn baby burn fuel like it was 1926 when gas was cheap and a readily available commodity. Well the piper has struck a chord and now humbled, on its knees the last bastion of American manufacturing is literally facing its own death and there seems to be nothing that can be done to forego its imminent demise. Who is to blame for all of this?

Sadly it seems we all are, everyone who turned their head away instead of asking tough questions, everyone that said they were too busy just getting by to be interested, everyone who never voted and assumed someone else was taking care of business, everyone who said its not my problem, everyone who said me first and if I have time, maybe you. We ALL created this New World Disorder through our ambivalence, isolation, lack of humanity, and lack of personal values.

As I write this I know I sound like some crazy right-wing curmudgeon, a fossil who is shouting to heavens, and everyone quickly looking the other way, ignores the truths that are presented to us nightly; we have failed, our leaders have failed, our business leaders have failed, our community has failed, our government has failed, our religion has failed, and we as a people have failed.

This is pretty damning stuff taken in one scoopful yet this is how 2008 has unraveled, and while we thought someone else might stop all the insanity and make things right, no one did which is partly what keeps me up at night.

Pondering these matters I must put events and circumstances into perspective so I have the capacity to digest the enormity of the problems we face; and these problems are not a figment of a malcontent, these problems are real and will require something extraordinary from each one of us, something which, transcends the normal, the usual, the expected.

I ask myself what can I do to change any of it? How do I regain optimism and joy? This has become my quest, and my own world not unlike the demented and addled world outside has been torn and shredded this year too, but I am certainly not alone, millions of others are facing heartbreaking worries far beyond what is reasonable, so I should probably be mollified that I am not in this mess all by myself, yet by myself is exactly how it feels, and I can’t recall a time where I have been less certain and sure footed.

When I was young I believed that no matter what I was faced with I could handle it; handle any breakdowns, any obstacles, the unexpected, any unknown, any challenges from those who dared me to succeed because I always prevailed somehow. But this time, I don’t know if a mindset shift is that simple or if it was ever simple; in fact what I thought knew seems like a joke to me, an irrelevant statistic but there’s the rub.

It is exactly these circumstances and moments when choice really does matter, when attitude can make the difference between death of spirit or transcendence. It’s these moments where one must draw that line in the sand and say this far and no further… and it is imperative and our responsibility to find the strength and fortitude to endure, to transform, to enlighten, to grow. This is what I believe.

Unsure as I am about the world and what will happen next I believe in the power of choice, of actually traveling down the road less traveled but not traveling alone; I want my life companion, my friends, my family and the greater whole of this country to travel it with me.

I Believe my place in the world starts with love of self, love of family, of community, of country, of spirit, of a higher power whether we can prove it or not. I thought by this point in life my world would be pretty well sorted out and clear, ironically however the world actually changes and not always for the better whether I like it or not.

We are all witnesses to remarkable, historic changes and I believe we must find new ways to solve problems and make things better for everyone. This is what my life has always been about and I believe when people understand what is at stake we can transcend ambivalence, hatred, old and obsolete ideas and change the world for the better.

I have no illusions about the magnitude of the tasks ahead in order to reverse the path of discontent and hopelessness it will require lots of humor, require inclusion, require lots of compromise, require flexibility, adjustment, recalibration, it will demand commitment, will rely on community, passion, desire, and tons tireless work.

I’m not always sure where to start but I believe in the power to choose and do the right thing when called upon and I believe we are being called to action literally and figuratively and find ways to make other people’s lives and the country better. This is I believe.