My Turn: Tragedy is never inevitable

  • mactrunk mactrunk

Published: 6/16/2022 6:16:41 PM
Modified: 6/16/2022 6:14:26 PM

To preserve democracy or eliminate it. That is the question.

Like Hamlet, the whorl of forces surrounding us is demanding that we make a decision. We are not to be neutral. The vagaries of the present moment, the outrages, the assaults on our sensibilities force us onstage, or, fearing some unwanted retribution, find us contemplating our uncertainties, the gaps in knowledge we have refused to replace with our own industry. How be we thus?

Those areas are often difficult to follow, produce uncertainty and cloud our eyes from perceptions of right, the certainties we follow, the monoliths that guided us. And we are not allowed to go back, return to the securities we’ve constructed. How far we have drifted in the astrophysical forces of the universe: They have always been indifferent to our plights, out of our control. We live the choices, the conditionings, the allegiances that bind us. What we value most can easily face an uncertain future offering no solace, battering us with choices we do not fully comprehend or want to make.

But was it not always so? As we well know by now, the nanosphere of the digital age replaced the step-by-step accrual of thought and knowledge. Light speed is a limit not set in time but set in thought. What we perceive happening around us requests a response. Neoliberalism, as an ideology codified by Reagan, reinforced disparities with vaunting worship of wealth and privilege. It’s just the amplification of material advantage conferred upon the self-anointed who quote freedom tracts while dismissing the inconvenience of global warming and ignoring the “underclass” of migrants at the southern border. The displaced middle class was easy pickings amplified by the DeSantis’s and Greg Abbots committed to preserving white privilege. Quick! Obscure the tragedy of Uvalde. Meanwhile, the quickly disappearing middle class, fogged by social media, is left swimming toward one shiny object or whatever lures them in.

The tides had changed as laws now favored the accrual of unlimited wealth by those with access to the levers of power. The new Golden Age. Changes become permanent. My iPhone serves as universal connection. But I am old now and my connections with the past hold vivid memory while the speed of current transcription creates a universe of misinformation that amplifies meaningless, resisting all efforts at circumspection, reconstruction. Following a path and controlling one’s actions takes discipline, perspective and commitment to preserve a universe not swayed by the manipulations of misinformation.

We treat truth as the plaything of the gods: But it is politics that distorts truth for immediate ends. Suddenly it all becomes painfully obvious: We’re placed at the service of the disingenuous. Truth and beauty become merely victims. We’re being forced to change the way we understand and respond to crises, to the way corporatocracy controls our lives. How long will the corporatocracy respond to the war in Ukraine? Answer: As long as its profitable, politically expedient. How cynical is that?

Mariupol is now the Dresden of war’s ritual sacrifice. Fifty years of human rights advance can be shelled in a heartbeat, the blind whim of political expediency. A bomb or shell wipes out a family but not its history. Everyone is dead at the end of Hamlet. The play is over. But not before we’ve been led through the gauntlet of human treachery and silenced love in a person who sees his tragic course, the inevitability of fate, and the powerlessness of a man to overcome what the stars have prescribed. That is our nature. But tragedy is never inevitable. We make it so. It’s our choice.

We must think grandly or miss the sense of distance, the looseness of time, the irony that we either take charge of our fate, bare “the whips and scorns of time,” or fall victim to currents that ignore our charge, alter our strokes, force hesitation when faith in knowledge, respect for life and our responsibilities for others, and generosity of spirit would lead us home to a promised land. It’s always there and here, here and now. Agency is our tool, faith in our resilience, commitment to the bargain we make with ourselves that carries us through “outrageous fortune,” telling us who we are, have been, and opens doors to love when the “slings and arrows” threaten and contort. We know we can change our conditions, know that light transforms darkness, that faith opens channels, opportunities, and discoveries. We are titans, magicians: The universe grants us consciousness in unlimited quantities to reflect and channel, honor its source, be universal actors, bring us together on the big stage. The pageants of life may not change, but life is transfigured, we are changed.

Alan Harris, retired chef/owner of Noble Feast, lives with wife, Jane, son Paul, and new black cat Kiko. Kiko is psychic and knows humans do things that make no sense. She’s the sphinx as we juggle our illusions.


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