Friday, December 28, 2012

Just Fix the Fiscal Cliff, already! Notes from Paradise

It's a big contrast between my idyllic surroundings in Hawaii and the stress my husband is feeling, and sharing (or foisting) with me about the impending fiscal cliff.

I think our President wants us to tumble, because he's in the position of power and revels in it. He wants Republicans to look bad, and after Speaker Boehner's failure with Plan B, you know we do. By so doing, he looks good, of course, his favorite way to look.

Even better for him is feeling powerful, and now's his moment. He wouldn't dare linger one more day in Kailua (on the other side of Oahu from Waikiki) with the fam, when he can watch the nation plunge off the precipice and gloat.

"Suffer, you poor stubborn Republicans!" And incidentally, everyone else, who very quickly will pile on his side and yell for the selfish, stinky, eeeeevil Republicans who want to protect their rich 1% cronies, to cave. Truth is, they--we--are stuck at the mercy of the grinning Potus once paychecks shrink and inheritances crumble--and stocks plummet and jobs disappear and we're all screaming--pleading!--for relief.

"Help us! Oh, help us, dear President!" And with his magnanimousness, our Nobel Laureate, who obviously knows a thing or two about keeping the peace, will accept the bow of those who once were too stiff-necked to see his truth.

There is no reason for our president to want to "cobble out" a compromise; no need for him to do more than stand parentally watching the bad boys and girls who want to protect the filthy rich realize their folly. He wants to save us. It frosts me, which takes a lot when the night-time low temperature is 75, that he gets to feel so superior and so right.

He thinks what he wants is best for the country. Going over the cliff, even to win his point, will hurt a lot of people. But in the end, he'll remind us, we'll be better off.  When that doesn't happen, possibly because people smart enough to earn more than $250,000 annually are also smart enough to figure out how to avoid taxes, he'll still blame Republicans.

It's a beautiful view here in Hawaii, with the aqua surf, stark Pali mountains, lush tropical flowers. Our president can certainly tell you that. But from his vantage, the view is even better in Washington, because he'll watch his opponents tumble into place like the white cascade of the waterfalls in paradise.

And the rest of us, no matter our surroundings, are left with stress...

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sad, but sick of pondering Connecticut shootings

Newtown, CT memorial for victims of shooting rampage
I'm sorry not to be politically correct, but I don't want any more emails or alerts about whether my children are safe in school. I can't read any more pronouncements for banning handguns so that kids emerge alive from their classrooms. Don't replay presidential assurances that "something will be done" to prevent tragedies like the Connecticut mass shootings.

There is nothing to be said; nothing to be done (but, perhaps, weep for the children and the families involved). Seeing flags flying at half-mast everywhere I go makes me wonder what the signal of such gestures is, or can be. When I was young, upon the death of a statesman, president or unusually significant leader, flags would ascend only half their usual heights in recognition of the accomplishments of the deceased. The diminished loftiness of the flag acknowledged the loss of someone particularly influential and great. Now, it seems, if we have reason to be sad, even if it's because someone went berserk, the national symbol is lowered.

That a human being could murder in such a shockingly heartless and cruel manner--in a place we consider innocent and pure--so many blameless and even exemplary people is, of course, horrifying. It is fitting that those lost should be memorialized properly, and mourned.

But that's where the response should stop. Instead of generalizing and sermonizing; instead of attacking second-amendment freedoms or insisting that some policy or safeguard might have prevented this tragedy, we should simply grieve. Quietly and sincerely.

There is no sense to be made of this. There is no action needed or blame to be placed. There is no rule or safeguard that should have been enforced. This was unpredictable and nonsensical. The motivations of the individual who committed this unspeakable series of murders is incomprehensible. We do not want to accept that, but we should, and in the end, we will.

In the interim, we magnify the sorrow by endlessly succumbing to what my husband has dubbed "the do-something disease." In our powerlessness, we crave solutions. We want to address the problem to gain control.

But we have none, and this kind of wrenchingly awful crime cannot be addressed. There is comfort to be shared but no resolution.

What causes mental illness to manifest itself? What causes a person to "snap" or experience "melt down" or, in shooter Adam Lanza's case, endure "an episode"? What spurs any compulsion? Medications can influence the brain and thus behavior, but are they automatically appropriate for socially inept, quiet people? Are we to look at anyone with idiosyncrasies or even Asperger's Syndrome as a threat requiring treatment and "normalizing"?

Sorry. I seem to be indulging in the same mind games I eschew. Let's deal with this in our personal feelings and stop groping for answers to imponderable questions. Sometimes the message is to realize our vulnerabilities and our dependence on God, and become more humble. There's research to be done on how the brain functions, but that is ongoing and hasn't yielded what we want to hear now. Let's accept our inadequacies and our lack of control, and then, please, just be quiet.