I’m reminded of the book “On the Beach” (Nevil Shute, 1957) published when I was ten and read when I was twenty. The people in Australia could only sit and wait while the radiation cloud approached from the north. There was nothing they could do but take that last vacation, drive in that last race, make love to that one girl who now seemed to be less hesitant. So little has changed in sixty years.
Today, the nation is hiding from the poisonous fallout cloud emanating from the lips, fingertips, and pens of the President and the Congress. Some feel hopeless, as their fate is sealed; others feel guilty—they once believed in him and voted for him simply because they didn’t like abortion or email or women in pants suits. Others are furious and frustrated that their predictions have come true. I’m one of those. Some pack their belongings and sell their homes hoping to relocate somewhere further downwind of the economic storm. Others picket and march, painting signs and doffing gas masks for the inevitable backlash. And some, twenty some a day, take their own lives. Some succumb to the chemicals we dump into our lakes, rivers and blend into our bread.
And then there are those who don’t notice the world around them. Their car still starts, their job is still there, their paycheck cleared the bank and the landlord isn’t calling every night asking for his ever-increasing rent. Their kids are well enough and perhaps they’ll visit over the holidays if they can get away. They don’t mind the country is slipping away to those who care more about profits and personal gain than people. Don’t worry, these people often don’t vote at all. “Politics is so confusing–all the parties are the same. Nothing ever changes.” We know nothing will come of the endless hearings, the inevitable pardons, and resignations. And then we’ll suffer through three decades of analysis. “What if we had only…” “How did you let this happen?” asks a dewy eyed grandchild.
We hope they’re wrong, but know they’re not so we think about taking that vacation now instead of later, fixing up that old car and kissing that girl.