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No Country For Old Men

weber-logo1I’ve got a problem and you’ve got to help me.  It’s a matter of life and death.

My father died 7 years ago from a heart attack.  That’s the simple explanation.  The truth, however, like most things human, is a little more complex.  The reality is he died from stress, stress brought on by an addiction to politics and economics, mainlined from his dealer, the omnipresent media.

From the day he retired he spent most of his time either phoning his broker, glued to the television news or stooped over the stock market pages, trying to determine the next political decision, the next consumer trend that would turn his market long shots into some windfall reality.  The windfall never came of course, but that wasn’t the point.  He was an addict.  Addicted to what I was never quite sure but win or lose, the next day you could bet he’d be at it again; wired to the world that killed him.  No Country for Old Men.

I think of my dad a lot these days, hooked as I am to the YouTube universe, tuning in daily to the headlines and sound bites that for better or worse, accurately define our world.  I realize too, that after listening to heretofore unheard-of prophets like Peter Schiff and Ron Paul, Gerald Celente and Jim Rogers, that my head’s long been buried in the sand; no doubt avoiding that same drug addiction that did in my father; an addiction to issues perhaps beyond my understanding and certainly beyond my control.

For, despite all the incoming information, despite my growing awareness of world issues and arguments, one thing remains clear: the more I learn the less I truly understand. Government bailouts, the stimulus package, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; nothing’s simple, except for the simple-minded. 

I used to be one of them.  No grey areas, just black or white, my way or the highway, until I became a high school teacher and realized you can’t make anyone do anything they don’t want to do.  More prisons and police won’t stop the drug trade; more soldiers won’t quash an insurgency.  Smarter people than I am must have figured that out, but still, guns keep on firing.  Why?  Well, FedSpending.org, says the reason’s simple.

Smarter people than I am want them to. 

The website, with a mandate for improving government accountability, reports that more than a quarter of senators and congressmen have invested at least $196 billion of their own money in companies that do business with the Department of Defense, profiting from the war in Iraq.  Forget all you’ve heard about freedom, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, it’s just hard to ban bombs when there’s a buck to be made.

Using this as a disheartening example, there are always layers to the onion well beyond what we know; always reasons for avoiding discussions on money, politics, war or religion, at least from any standpoint of authority.  Everyone has an opinion, everything’s contentious, and few, if ever, are completely right or wrong.

American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, best known for what may seem the oxymoronic study relating Christian faith to the realities of modern politics and diplomacy, perhaps said it best:  “God give me the strength to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

No small task, indeed.

Anyway . . . if you’re struggling with Reinhold and still looking for certainty, perhaps you should bet on this:  There are no easy answers to today’s complex issues and possibly, no issues at all; just fools to be duped and money to be made.  If you believe this, perhaps you’re a little like me: smart enough to realize how stupid I really am.  Smart enough to tune out the world’s wag-the-dog media, smart enough to step back from the stock pages; in short, smarter (and hopefully healthier) than my father.

I started by saying I had a life-and-death problem, but Reinhold’s supplied the solution.  I think I’ll stop worrying about things beyond my control, maybe go for a walk and take a deep breath.  One way or another, the world that killed my father will still be here tomorrow.

Probably.

Maybe.

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Comments»

1. Eugene - March 19, 2009

John – you touched on a heavy one, “to do or not to do” puzzle.
To open at least a small window to the world’s winds or shut it close and take a walk as you were planning …
I ask such a question myself almost daily, or on any day I have a slice of time to dig into the surrounding world stage (globally AND locally).
It’s an impossible question, and I regularly see more people taking a walk , for being tired, disillusioned or aged.
But then, if all honest people leave the stage, even as passive observers, the dishonest gang will run the stage unchallenged, even intellectually. And intellectual unacceptance of events is a lot, I do believe that. If everybody takes a wal on the election day, the elections, or whatever is left of it, will be taken up by some 500 votes.
So, let’s take a walk, and get back, and tune into what’s happening out there. Shall we?


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