(How Did This Happen)
Somewhere along the way we had lost our appreciation of the principle of cause and effect, we forgot that actions have consequences, and so whatever happened in the world on one day, even if it seemed important, was forgotten on the next, until nobody could understand any longer how various events were connected, and that if no one was responsible for them, then everyone was.
We were all increasingly confused, and so became impatient with each other. Anger replaced civility, as we became aware of more and more annoying differences between us, until everyone became suspect. Maybe they (the others) would try to hurt us, take away our precious things, maybe we needed a better security system? Or maybe what we really needed was a true red-blooded Hero, someone who would show us whom to blame!
Some days we woke up and discovered we were at war. This was unsettling, though vaguely familiar. Hadn’t this happened recently, we couldn’t exactly recall. In any case, we encouraged our children to enlist and defeat the enemy. We knew we could win, we had more of what would be needed to endure and triumph. This is what they all said, and why should we doubt it? Look at our great cities, look at our imposing banks and guard towers!
Then somewhat later, nobody was speaking about that war, there was another matter for concern. The war was forgotten, even though many of us now were experiencing variations on traumatic disorders. A great biological epidemic was loose on the land, and we needed to get inoculated. We all hurried to the clinics and got our vaccine, but a month later nobody was talking about it, so life went on as if there was nothing to it.
Well, not exactly — we were more anxious, and so required more medications. Thank goodness for drugs, and the Real Housewives, and Survivor! We forgot about the war, we forgot about the disease, but there was a new threat. We heard about it on our devices. We all had these wizardly electronic devices, and so kept up to the minute on whatever it was that we would soon forget.
Now it suddenly seemed that hordes of darker people were secretly crossing our borders to fiddle with our young women, and even some of our older ones. They were too bold, they wanted our jobs, the few ones left after the machines had filled the spaces which our men and women had once upon a time occupied. We were told that we must stop the invaders, we should build a very big wall. Could our machines do that, build that wall and save our jobs and women? Save our pure religion from the barbarians, the filthy false believers who would deny us our breakfast ham?
Not long after, the wall was forgotten, there was something else of urgent concern. People were lying, publishing the wrong information, making up stuff and pretending it was really happening. We were no longer sure what to believe. We should have a real Hero to believe in, a big man with big important plans who would make us great again. We didn’t really remember when we were that great, but it must be true, look at our cities, our tall imposing guard towers. Look at our machines!
Were we really at war, was there really a horrible disease that was being brought in by the darker people, the ones who came to take our women, our jobs, our ham? It seemed so. Things seemed to be getting worse. They told us it was getting bad out there. Then whatever we bought seemed to break and fall apart before too long, so could we even trust our machines any longer? Yes, we needed a Hero to fix it all, to make all of our things great again, as great as they used to be.
We got a new leader, we surely did, but it would not go the way we thought it would, the way we hoped it would. We had lost our appreciation of cause and effect, until nobody could understand any longer how various events were connected, and that if no one was responsible for them, then everyone was. In that way, things really began to fall apart, but the troubles didn’t go away like they had usually done before, replaced by something else cleverly designed to distract us. No, falling apart seemed here to stay. What more was there to say?
(Painting by Meesha Goldberg)