WHAT THE HELL

Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

The appropriate response …

I was telling my wife the other day that I felt a bit blue. It was a beautiful day, and we were hiking one of our favorite trails near our house. On paper there was no reason to feel blue, but I told her that, more and more, it seemed like there wasn’t much room for hope in the world we’re all living in right now. War, a pandemic, political catastrophes, the climate crisis, inhumanity to spare. Where is there a place for hope in all of it?

Frankly, when you look closely at the state of the world, it’s almost abnormal not to feel depressed. Sure, I can manage a little grin when I think of Eric Idle, crucified in Life of Brian, singing “Always look on the bright side of life!” Gallows humor. I imagine there’s even occasional laughter in Kyiv bunkers these days as the Russian shells fall on apartment buildings, theaters, schools, and hospitals. “At least we’ve got our health, nyet?” But it can only be momentary, and it’s always bitter.

I keep recalling the over-referenced words of Martin Luther King, Jr., that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Now that I have a longer view, I can see that this is mainly wishful thinking. (I bet even King would say so today.) We’re always on the verge of backsliding, returning to less equitable times, impinging on rights instead of expanding them, rolling back progress. And nukes. For the love of God, why has the human race apparently erred on the side of “nuclear war can be survived” rather than “it’s the end of the world as we know it”? Technology has blinded us to the inevitable horror.

We’ve seen that madmen can sometimes come to power. And when they do, they change the dynamics of everything. They seek to fulfill destinies and prophecies, to alter history. They make it seem like what they’re doing was meant to be. A return to mythical glory. The reclaiming of former greatness.

True hogwash, but nationalism ignites so many people it’s a tool that strongmen get a good grip on from the start.

The fact is, the world is depressing now, which makes me think of my brother, who died sixteen years ago this week. He was depressed, and almost anyone who knew him would say of course he was depressed; his life was a hot mess.

This essay gets into some ideas that probably apply: We’ve entered a new era, now that the post-WWII structures have evidently collapsed. It’s the age of restlessness. “Distrust is now ‘society’s default emotion,’” as the writer quotes from an annual survey’s conclusions. Our most stolid institutions have failed us. We can no longer believe “facts” at face value. Different realities have sprung up to suit different ideologies: Vladimir Putin, ex-KGB man, actually quotes scripture to justify his war in Ukraine, and Republican senators pretend that Ketanji Brown Jackson is a friend to child pornographers.

Feeling kind of blue (apologies to Miles Davis) is the least we can do to acknowledge the state of things, even if we do roll along with our lives and experience very few of the hardships and inequities imposed on so many others. That the bad guys seem to win more than the good guys needn’t impact our enjoyment of The Batman. Life goes on. But I think we’d be unwise and morally blind not to admit that things feel different now compared to, say, 2008, when Barack Obama was elected, when his campaign motto was one four-letter word: H O P E.

5 comments on “The appropriate response …

  1. Gary Trujillo
    March 24, 2022

    1. stop watching the news 2. start watching videos of guys getting kicked in the nuts

    • Kevin Brennan
      March 24, 2022

      Guys getting kicked in the nuts are a metaphor for the news these days. 😆

  2. Marie A Bailey
    March 24, 2022

    Greg and I struggle with the blues too, for all the reasons that you mention. Yet, I also have moments where I keenly feel love for my life. Those moments come at odd times, like when I’m on the treadmill at the gym so it could just be endorphins ;-). I suspect that it’s also because my life is pretty damn good, relatively speaking. Relative because I’ve grown to be happy with what I’ve got: a house, two old cars, three cats, one husband. With the world going crazy, I hold what I love closer to me. It’s all I can do.

    I’m no longer a news junkie, but I do read about Ukraine and I listened to hours of Judge Jackson’s confirmation hearing (what an embarrassing show Graham, Cruz, and Cotton put on … egad! But Ben Sasse was quite a pleasant surprise and Corey Booker’s “I’m not letting anyone steal my joy” brought me to tears.)

    I keep wishing that someone would just assassinate Putin.

    • Kevin Brennan
      March 24, 2022

      I know just what you mean. We’re the same way, relishing our quiet life and all the great perks of it, including each other! We’re jazzed about the new paver-stone patio we had put in. Nursing the cat through a sore leg episode. Listening to great music and enjoying the spring weather.

      It’s the only way to fly when the outside world is imploding.

      And if I were a prayin’ man, I’d pray for that last thought of yours about Putin. 😡

      • Marie A Bailey
        March 24, 2022

        Per my husband’s varied readings, some are saying that Putin is an old man running out of time. So let’s speed it up for him 😉

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This entry was posted on March 24, 2022 by in Et alia and tagged , , , , .
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