“Those are people who died, died
Those are people who died, died
Those are people who died, died
Those are people who died, died
They were all my friends, and they died”– Jim Carroll
My second entry on this blog page was entitled Envy of the Dead (dated December 1), wherein I expressed a tongue-in-cheek admiration for those celebrities who have passed away this year. Well, it seems that in the realm of mortality, 30 days is an awfully long time and for me to have made that post when I did was clearly premature. In the interim…
…have all given up the ghost. I would have to assume that Debbie Reynolds’ passing had something to do with the fact that her daughter died just days prior at far too young of an age. Alan Thicke had a heart attack playing hockey with his son. George Michael died of heart failure in his sleep. Carrie Fisher also died of a heart attack or heart failure (is there a distinction?). The latter two had fairly public demons and addicitions; Carrie Fisher even having written several brilliant and brutally honest books about her bipolar disorder, drug abuse and time spent in rehab facilities (an aside: if anyone with mental illness found Carrie Fisher’s brave honesty on the subject to be inspiring, I’m sure you will love this touching tribute from my blogging hero, Jenny Lawson: http://thebloggess.com/2016/12/27/stay-afraid-but-do-it-anyway/).
But this post isn’t just to update a previous one with more names of the recently deceased. It is to float a silly, superstitious, illogical, and yet tenaciously persistent feeling that I’ve had as these celebrities have fallen like dominoes in the midst and aftermath of the most disquieting political shit storm the U.S. has seen in my lifetime. What if, whether consciously, subconsciously or unconsciously, anticipating the prospect of living in the sure to be challenging, uncertain and horrifying year ahead, these tired souls decided that death was preferable to living in a world whose greed, hatred, violence and anger grow exponentially every day and is poised to get much, much worse post-inauguration day? If my baseless theory has any truth to it, then I can hardly blame anyone for making the decision to bail out and shake off this mortal coil while they have the chance.
I, like anyone, can die at any moment. However, I do not plan to expedite my demise and odds are, I will survive long enough to fully experience the oppressive atmosphere in which we will soon be living. Though I imposed a news moratorium upon myself on the morning of 11/9 and continue to ignore all news outlets, whether online, televised or printed, some info still seeps through and just on the basis of that cursory information, I can already tell that things are going to be worse than I even anticipated. Racial hatred and violence will return to a level not seen since the fledgling days of the Civil Rights Era. Women’s rights will be decimated. With the appointment of new Supreme Court Justices, I fear that every significant victory won by the LGBT movement will be reversed. Those states who understood the folly and greed of the War on Drugs and legalized cannabis for medical and/or recreational use? Be ready for the Feds to come to your doors with battering rams and for more private prisons to be commissioned to accommodate the huge chunk of our citizenry who will find themselves behind bars. Illegal (AND legal) immigrants will all have figurative targets on their backs. Free speech and freedom of the press will be stifled and detractors of the Reichsfuhrer will be incarcerated. If you appear to be of Middle Eastern descent, I fear for you and your loved ones the most. And while this paragraph may have sounded like a passage out of Brave New World, 1984, Fahrenheit 451, Anthem, or other dystopian classics, it is sadly an accurate prediction of what we will soon be facing. I don’t just mean what Americans will be facing: Herr Drumpf’s scorched-earth policies will effect everyone on the planet. All of our baby-steps in addressing catastrophic climate change will be reversed and corporations will find themselves with no environmental restrictions. El Presidente’s finger hovering over the nuclear launch code will be so itchy as to resemble someone with advanced stage Parkinson’s. He is just DYING to use his arsenal of genocidal toys. Countries torn apart by war and oppression will soon find that not only will the U.S. and other free nations be unable to accommodate their refugees, they will find that the USA is generating a large number of its OWN refugees…those of us who refuse to live in a land whose official policy is hate and that incarcerates an inordinate percentage of its population and wages pointless wars all in the name of profit.
All I can do is emotionally detach and continue my ostrich-act of keeping my head firmly in the sand about national politics, while simultaneously trying to be more compassionate and charitable on a local level. When the Orangutan-elect begins to sell his own formerly rabid supporters up the river in order to do the bidding of those with power and money and influence, I will not find it edifying to say to them, “I told you so.” But I do hope they will have learned the error of their xenophobic, bigoted views. I hope they will learn to understand that people are all in this together regardless of nationality, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or social status. Maybe then they will finally awaken from their brainwashing coma brought on by Fox, Breitbart and Drudge and understand that they, too, are victims, just like those they’ve been conditioned to hate.
A look back at history will show any of us that what we are facing is nothing new. However, it is new to us. And let’s face it, as Americans, as imperfect as this nation has always been, we’ve always been among the most fortunate people on the planet. Even our destitute are more wealthy than most everyone who lives in a Third World country. So we’re soft. Do we have what it takes to resist the avalanche of tyranny and despotism that looms just around the corner? Or will we curl up and die or worse yet, adopt an attitude of acceptance with the justification “if you can’t beat them, join them”? I am a straight, white, non-Muslim male and as such, probably face the least potential persecution from this lunatic’s minions (almost all of whom I would suspect are armed, I might add). But that affords me no comfort. My outspokenness may be my downfall, but even if it isn’t and some semblance of free speech remains, the reality is that I do not want to live in a place where a sizable amount of my friends and neighbors will be subject to racial persecution, violence, hatred and a rapid loss of rights. That being said, I currently find that the only real stereotyping and prejudice in which I engage anymore is against those who fall into my own demographics: I now view straight, white, non-Muslim males with great suspicion and even a certain amount of derision (although that isn’t right, either, as not everyone like me voted for Trump or is scared of their diminishing majority status).
So back to the original theme of this overly verbose screed: Alan, George, Carrie and Debbie: Congratulations. You made it out just in the nick of time. Rest In Peace.