VALOIS, New York, USA - The events of the last few years (last few years?) have been weighing heavily on me in recent weeks.
Maybe it's the relentlessly bad news from the Gulf of Mexico, where the continuing British Petroleum oil spill is wrecking economies, the lives of people and animals, and will pose a serious health risk for decades. And spill is a polite word for what happened. The company cut corners and ignored safety protocols that would likely have prevented this disaster still overwhelming the southeastern United States.
It could be the fact that so many good people are still out of work in the U.S. - and unlikely to get any job that comes close to what they had before they got caught in the economic debacle that was precipitated by greed at all levels. And even as people struggle to recover, big U.S.-based companies like Whirlpool are still shipping jobs out of the country.
Perhaps I feel the weight because so many people seem to have lost faith in almost all institutions to help solve problems. Or perhaps because they are parroting the nonsense they pick up from virulent talk radio or talking heads like Fox News' Gretchen Carlson. Carlson recently said decisions she makes daily in her job - as a news commentator - are as important as those made by the President of the United States. And she was serious.
Gretchen Carlson - as important as the President?
How you unravel any problems in this tangled political and often hysterical, media-satured environment - controlled in large part by soul-less corporations whose only goal is profit and more profit - seems less like the 12 labors of Hercules and more like the fate of Sisyphus.
Still, bright spots pop up from time to time, such as this morning when I received a video clip of Barry McGuire's updated 'Eve of Destruction.' It was sent to me by my amigo, Sanders Lamont, who loves music and commented that the song is: "A reminder of the strength of music in its ability to tell the hard truth."
McGuire's Eve of Destruction - 2012 moves forward from his 1960s hit with new lyrics and stunning video images, creating a powerful piece that is simultaneously depressing and uplifting.
It's uplifting because in watching and listening, you realize that you are not alone in your concern/depression/outrage/disgust. And there is great restorative power in that feeling. If there is one overarching emotion that can be attached to the myriad problems that fill the news, it's that feeling of being powerless to do anything about what's happening in the world.
Sociologists often say that from their perspective, individuals don't matter much. Practicing random acts of kindness, for example, will not register as even a blip in the cosmic sense.
Maybe not. (Though I think in this case, those sociologists who say that, have been educated way beyond their intelligence.)
But today, after watching the McGuire video, I've decided to start rolling that rock back up the hillside, beginning with learning to play Eve of Destruction - 2012 on my ukulele. Then later this afternoon, I'll be back at the keyboard to write another screed.
And you can bet it will not be a random act of kindness aimed at British Petroleum.
Sisyphus at work