To say we’re approaching the brink is a yawner. Especially when Nobel Prize recipients are warning that we’re poised at a tantrum. They’ve called on Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un to “tone down the rhetoric” to prevent nuclear disaster, that we’re a “tantrum away” from catastrophe. Isn’t it enough we have an epic urgency—that Mother Earth is marinating in pollutants, one of which is pesticides that are neurotoxic and carcinogenic? Big Pharma to the rescue though with an answer that’s unrelated to prevention: drugs, drugs whose side effects often are as bad or worse than the diseases they’re designed to treat. We’re at a death-rattle moment in human history. See this link for the world’s worst air quality locations.
Maybe, like me, you’re a consummate worrier with anxiety overload. It’s the entirety, including minor, medium, large, and ginormous, list entries playing hopscotch as one concern is elevated. Generally, the minor includes the small, the personal. The ginormous are ecosystem collapse and nuclear annihilation.
One moment I’m consumed with Big Agriculture and the grocery options that if labeled honestly would note toxins as the first ingredient. Then I shift to war. War threatens my peace. I read about troop deaths, families hearing the words, “We regret to inform you,” words my brother Mark hears as he tries to sleep and when he wakes. All the families, like mine, that have lost a loved one to war’s lies, lies that we’re fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them here or that freedoms must be protected or that the mission is humanitarian. Plus, the Other victims, the Un-human, the objectified. Those men, women, and children who largely remain uncounted, because, well, to the warmongers they don’t count, people whose lives don’t matter, same as U.S. troops’ lives don’t matter, because the sound of cha-ching is inspirational music to war profiteers.
This is the distillate of capitalism.
Last Monday: a terrorist attack in New York City. A Bangladeshi detonated an explosive in the name of ISIS. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, spinner extraordinaire, said, “The president is certainly concerned that Congress, particularly Democrats, have failed to take action in some places where we feel we could have prevented this. Specifically, the president’s policy has called for an end to chain migration and if that had been in place, that would have prevented this individual from coming to the United States.”
In the comment section of a New York Times article, someone wrote: “Can we please heed the message of the season and just learn to live with one another without insisting our religion is the only way?”
No acknowledgement of U.S. might-makes-right entitlement. No acknowledgement of regime change as U.S. foreign policy. No acknowledgement that actions have consequences: blowback.
This is a period of chaos, of whiplash, a distraction a day. An inflammatory Trump tweet or another sexual predator outed. We watch, read, hear the women (and a handful of men) whose truths, shrouded in fearful hush-hush for so long, are told and heard, in a demand for justice. Here, I’m obligated to add that I’m not trivializing any accuser’s pain, damage to the psyche. All of us should be grateful for their courage in challenging the patriarchy. Plus, this could be a preliminary to the taking down of the head of the Rough Beast who’s occupying the White House. Really, this possibility is fertilizer for my imagination and requires the following insert:
Imagine the Pences’ pillow talk:
“Mother, this is it. Trump plucked me from the jaws of what likely was ignominious defeat in Indiana, and now I’ll be president.”
“Yes, Father, and promise me you still won’t lunch with any women unless I’m present to shield you from temptation. Together we’ll work for the glorification of Christo-fascism. Let’s pray.”
“I’m turned on, Mother. Will you allow me to fornicate you as we pray?”
As important as it is though, the to-catch-a-sexual-predator news is distraction, distraction from the rape of resources in the countries the U.S. invades. Distraction from the rape of our planet by multinational corporations and legislators that represent the interests of these corporations instead of the people. Those ginormous life-and-resource-sucking corporations are the constituents whose voices are heard, not yours, not mine. Again, the distillate of capitalism.
Let’s see, what will I obsess on tonight? Please, not images of the Pences.
Missy Comley Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Baltimore. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.