Day One of Fall Break (and Day Three of Hiding in a Hole in the Ground Until the Election is Over) was spent relaxing (and relapsing) and piddling and putzing around the house, dabbling in this or that long-procrastinated mini-project. All the while, the back of my mind was working on the big questions. How have we come to this point? What explanation could there possibly be for the fact that about 50+ million people will tick “R” on their presidential ballots two weeks from now?
One of my mini-projects (i.e. one of my efforts in the eternal quest to de-crap the house) was finally removing the big stack of old TIME magazine issues from my office.
I used to read it regularly when I was still teaching semi-adults at the university, but the practice dwindled off when I switched to my new position in a grade/middle school. Thereafter, the weekly magazine was transported from the postbox directly to the pile (still in the plastic wrapping). This went on for several years until I finally got around to writing the email to cancel my subscription.
Another few years later – today – I decided the pile was ripe for removal. I sat on the floor and took each issue, one by one, removed the wrapper, put it in the plastic recycling bag, and then threw the magazine into the paper recycling box.
After issue number 30 or so, something struck me. Many of these cover stories, although all two, three or four years old now, could be from this year – 2016.
China, the inner cities, Guantanamo, cyber hacking, Iran, Hillary, whistle-blowing, Putin, Syria, drones, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Taliban . . . All of it ongoing and endlessly discussed for years now. A cycle of problems repeating itself over and over again. The media revisits each topic periodically, does some Monday morning quarterbacking, and then moves on to preparing next week’s cover story. The governments and politician/lawmakers continue to make statements and then move on to strategizing for the next power grab. Actual governing – doing something! – seems to have gotten lost along the way.
Suddenly, I found myself thinking about that old Bill Murray movie, Groundhog Day. I pictured all us Americans repeating the same events over and over again – but with a difference.
First of all, we are not in a movie theater, complacent in the knowledge that somewhere around Minute 112, things would resolve themselves. The cycle would be broken, the lights turned on. We would kick the spilled popcorn under our seats, check to make sure we had everything and leave the theater.
No, Minute 112 passed by an eternity ago and we are still sitting in the dark, watching the same looping show over and over, each time expecting a different outcome.
My mind wandered back to the big questions again. Which one of the two candidates this time will give us this feeling that the cycle can finally come to an end? Can we kick-start the government with our good intentions or will we blow it all up in our cynicism?
We moderate D’s and thoughtful R’s should stand up now, turn on the lights and leave the theater together. The rest can stay behind and blow it up without us.
And . . .
. . . maybe now is not the right time to be diving into a hole and hiding.