Silver Linings

It wouldn’t seem we have much to be happy about. First there were the four turbulent years of he who shall remain nameless. During that time, our democracy was set back about 300 years, maybe 3000, as institutions, traditions and the rule of law, all of which combined to give our lives stability and structure, were wholesale abandoned.

Then along came COVID, sending us cowering in our caves. As if that weren’t enough, we now have the specter of WW III unfolding in Europe, with an obvious madman attempting to rip the heart out of another, albeit fledgling, democracy. To top it all off comes the news that climate change, which we’ve had to de-prioritize in the face of all these other crises, is looming even more quickly and more dangerously than was previously estimated. Strangely, amid all of these dark clouds, I begin to see a few silver linings.

Going to the supermarket over the past several months, I’ve been greeted by empty shelves and the inability to any longer buy all that I want. Most of this county, me included, has grown spoiled and lazy. We’re used to getting everything we want and getting it immediately. Forgetting about all the people in the world who aren’t so lucky, many of them hidden from our daily view right in this country, we bitch and moan when we don’t get instant gratification. While we haven’t had a genie to fulfill our every wish with the snap of a finger, we had gotten pretty close to that.

Now, between COVID, inflation, the supply shortages and, God-forbid, a potential all-out cyberwar that would shut down our electronic existence for a protracted period, we’re going to be forced to have some self-discipline… to learn, or in the case of us oldsters, relearn, what it means to want something and not be able to get it…to use those long-vacated parts of our brains where thrift, patience and resourcefulness lie. You may think this frustrating, but it makes me happy. I relish a bit of long-term economic deprivation. It might do much to cleanse our national soul.

There has also been a coming together, of sorts, of our internal politics in response to the administration’s tightrope walking in countering the current Russian aggression. Perhaps “coming together” overstates things a bit, as the imbedded hatred in Washington is a hard thing to leave behind. But watching Old Joe fumble through the State of the Union address last night, there was some enthusiastic applause from the Republican side. It may only have been during the parts about our response to the Ukrainian (did Joe really say “Iranian”?) situation. But, maybe it’s a start. Regardless, having a decent person in the White House instead of a charlatan makes my list of positives.

There is also another silver lining in that crisis in Europe. Assuming there are enough people in the Russian military hierarchy willing and able to prevent this from escalating into a catastrophic nuclear war (I endorse deprivation, but not rummaging through the radioactive ruins of post-apocalyptic civilization). One can be certain the Chinese are closely watching the way the world is coming together in condemnation of Putin’s atrocity and the resistance of the Ukrainian people in defending their country. Surely that has to have them thinking twice about trying to invade Taiwan. We are much less well prepared to deal with a Taiwan invasion than we and our European Allies are to deal with Putin and the Russians.

“Hope springs eternal…” starts the line coined by Alexander Pope. Maybe I’m grasping at straws, but right now the intangibility of hope revolving around the fleetingly transient nature of these silver linings seems to be about the best we can do.

© 2022, David B Bucher

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