Friday, August 26, 2011
Good night, Irene!
I’m writing this in Queens—that sounds like the opening narration for some very bad, 1970s post-apocalyptic “message” film starring Charlton Heston- before Hurricane Irene makes landfall AKA before Queens is washed out…to other parts of Queens? Whatever. Neither the cats nor I am evacuating. We have cash, candles, batteries and kibble…we shall rebuild! On the other hand, if the MTA blinks and shuts down the subway system then I probably will give up, give in and hitchhike to…Oregon? Too much rain. Possibly Montana: no speed-limit and lots of aging hippies, which equals free love. So: Bloomy has his plan, I have mine.
But I recently watched a fantastic documentary, Medal Of Honor (http://www.pbs.org/medalofhonor/) which was simultaneously inspiring and hilarious, as Medal of Honor recipients from World War Two, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, discussed—quite casually—the almost unbelievable things they had done. Of course, none of them had done these acts hoping for a medal. They acted because they saw a need to act. And when I say “unbelievable” acts, I’m talking here about a single man shooting, and holding off, Japanese bombers, during the attack on Pearl Harbor, or an American soldier in Vietnam, whose medal was held up, because it didn’t seem possible that he could be alive following all the acts of heroism he had accomplished in a twenty-four hour period.
It’s a wonderful documentary and I can’t recommend it highly enough. But once thing I noticed is that almost all of the men, when asked how they did what they did say something like, “I have no idea…I just did!” There is the common theme of people in desperate circumstances just going out and doing what needed to be done to survive. And that, I think, is very important. I’m not going to seriously compare our present economic mess to World War Two, for example—how could I? Then, we had effective, competent, inspiring leadership…--but for people who are unemployed, or under-employed, who have been foreclosed upon, or have generally seen their way of life evaporate into something unfamiliar and deeply confusing…this is a war. This is a period of great upheaval and struggle. It’s exhausting. But if we sit around and brood about how difficult things are, and what the dismal future might hold…ugh, it’ll be much, much worse. So, don’t think: DO. Get through it. Get through it, to make something better tomorrow. Or, as a certain President once said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”