2021

Falling Apart?

We celebrated Easter on April 2nd. as per the Western Calendar (Orthodox and Eastern Christians will be celebrating first week of May). It was, of course, another Virus celebration and unlike the usual way we used to celebrate when joyful friends and family filled the house. Nevertheless, I recalled an Easter some twenty years ago when my grandson was about five years of age. My daughter wanted her son to attend a church service, so we all went as a family. The sermon was all about Jesus’ Life and the events that led up to his Crucifixion. It also mentioned his Baptism and how that ritual cleanses us of our Original Sin. After we came back home, and as my daughter and I were preparing for our Easter meal, we heard the water running in the upstairs bathroom. It was surprising, because only my grandson was up there. What was he doing? We ran upstairs only to find him having taken off all his clothes, sitting in the bathtub and pouring water over his head and body.

“What are you doing?”

“I am baptizing myself so that I’ll become as good as Jesus.”

My daughter and I suppressed our laughter, told him that he was a good boy, that Jesus loved him and that we loved him. With that, his mother helped to dry him off and get him into his clothes and we proceeded to enjoy our Easter meal. It was a hilarious moment, but also a beautifully innocent moment of a child’s interpretation of Baptism.

I also recalled another Easter about nine years ago when my husband was getting more frail as dialysis and his other health issues weighed on his body. Over the preceding few years he had become more religious than he had ever been and had expressed a desire – which we fulfilled –  to go to Church, Confess and take Holy Communion. Studies show that many people become more religious with age. Is it fear of what awaits us in the afterlife? Is it a sense of awe at a Power up there who orchestrated life as we know it? I have no idea! In any case, and being that it was getting close to Easter, I took my husband to Church. The Priest, seeing that he was painfully trudging along with his walker, suggested taking his confession in the office, which was close to the entrance, as the distance to the Confessional, as well as kneeling would have been next to impossible in my husband’s case. I waited outside until they came out. We then attended Mass and left.

“How thoughtful of the Father for taking your confession in his office,” I said.

“Son of a bitch,” responds my husband angrily. “Do you know what he asked me?”

“What?”

“He asked me if I (a very personal sexual question that I am even embarrassed to write down!)”

I was stunned, shocked that a Priest would ask such an explicitly lewd sexual question from an old and sick man!

“Are you sure?”

Fuming, he almost shouted: “Yes! Of course, I’m sure!” He was obviously so perturbed and disappointed!

In a sense, I wanted to laugh, to snicker, to opine of what I thought of Organized Religion and all who wear “the cloth,” so to speak. I wanted to rant and rave that irrelevant of what religion, or what sect anyone follows there are corrupt leaders within all these religious institutions, pedophiles, lewd abusers, thieves, liars and ego maniacal figures, etc. etc. who prey upon the fears, vulnerabilities and piety of people. And, especially these days, during this time of Easter, and as I look around the world and see  extremists from every religion; discrimination; vile racist rhetoric; uprooting, killing and hatred against anyone who is “Not Like Us” and the wicked divisiveness all around, I cringe with revulsion and horror. I confirm to myself that the unholy alliance that has always existed between Politics and Religion has now become a more dangerous mix, especially when we add television, radio, print and social media to that concoction. We can pretend not to see, or to downplay, or to dismiss all this fascistic behavior and words as “fringe.” However, they are real, tangible and becoming more treacherous every day and in quite a few places across our miserable world. So disgusting! So irreligious! So uncivilized! But, here I am, preaching to the choir, because the “extremists” from whatever religion, sect, ethnicity, nationality or other, would not read anything even remotely like my posts, or listen to any reasonable voices. Frightful!

Anyway, these past two weeks have been “newsy,” to say the least. Of course, our mainstream media, and as usual, highlighted the trivial and underplayed the important. No surprise, is it? However:

Headline News: Trouble in the Jordanian Kingdom!

We, the people, do not know what was really going on in Jordan during that first week of April. We may find out, or we might never do so as we continue to wonder whether it was Palace Intrigues that rattled the Kingdom and the airwaves? Sibling Rivalry? A “Cherchez La Femme” scenario, where the modern, trendy royal wives – one a Queen, the other, who has dubious connections, feeling jilted out of the title? Or, is it their Royal Mothers stirring the pot? Or, is it plots, conspiracies and geo-political issues that have caused this stir? Whatever the story, I believe that it was a perfect moment for another Oprah scoop where she could interview the concerned characters, open her eyes wide and form her mouth into that artificial “O” as she unveils another salacious, gossipy factoid a la the Meghan and Harry interview that was played nauseatingly over and over and over again by television, radio and print press reporters dumbing down the viewers even more than they normally do in order to distract us from the ominous background of a world that is Falling Apart? My, oh my!

In any case, I was not the only bright star who thought of the Oprah connection. While scrolling on Facebook I saw a post that had a simulated, photo-shopped  picture of Oprah and Hamzah, the Royal Prince, talking in that same garden where the Meghan/Harry interview happened, with the Prince saying: “And they even confiscated my TikTok account” as Oprah forms her mouth into that aghast “O!” Exquisitely Hilarious!

All this as the world is having a serious meltdown, a nervous breakdown whereby there is an “Active Shooter,” “Serious Incident,” “Unwarranted Police Shootings,” or Citizen Protests and Upheavals every single day, somewhere or the other and for one reason or another. Is it all The Virus and “Pandemic Fatigue?” Is it Incompetent Leadership? Is it our damn Ignorance as Humanity? Or, is it that people have had enough of lies, corruption and injustice from a political class that can adjust the laws willy-nilly to serve their purposes and to turn the clock back to the Middle Ages, such as what the Republican Party is aiming to do in the US, as well as occurring in other places across our world? Disconcerting! Foreboding! Extremely dangerous as the voices of the billions of good people are being outweighed by the wicked!

2021

Fragmented

My daughter had been urging me for years to watch the television series: Grace and Frankie, with the terrific Jane Fonda as Grace, and the hilarious Lily Tomlin as Frankie. I ignored her suggestion – no time! – until the Virus invaded our Planet, held us prisoners in our own homes, and I was left with nothing much to do all day other than watch hours of television in between all the other stuff that I was doing and that kept me occupied, not bored and not depressed. And watch I did! All episodes! One afternoon after another of binging on this marvelous series! One hysterical episode remained in my mind haunting and amusing me day after day. It was when Grace sits on the toilet and then her legs weaken and she can’t pull herself up try as she might! After a futile struggle, she anxiously called Frankie, who was at her own place, in order to come over and assist her. It was a very funny scene! However, paranoia began seeping in and causing my blood pressure to madly vacillate! What if this happens to me? What if one day I can’t pull myself up from the toilet? I never take my phone with me – as Grace did – to the bathroom. What happens then?  After all, my legs are not as sprightly as they used to be and it just could happen! After months of freaking myself out over this I relayed my concerns to my daughter who suggested I keep her father’s sturdy four-legged walking cane (which I have held sentimentally onto after all these years and that was adorned with one of his favorite woolen hats) in the bathroom in case this happens at any time. I did as she suggested and I practiced holding onto the cane and pulling myself up. Needless to say, that did not work very well. Oh, dear! What to do? So daughter eventually finds a safety toilet assist contraption, orders it, my son-in-law installs it and Voila! No more paranoia and freaking out! I am toilet-safe!

Sometime after that and as I was fiddling with my computer settings, and being that I am technologically challenged, I must have done something or the other whereby I removed one of my essential computer features! Just like that! Erased! Gone! Poof! And, of course, for the life of me I could not remember what I had clicked on to cause this! Duh! “How many times have I told you not to mess with your settings?” Daughter says, exasperatedly! I nod my head, sheepishly! “You have to promise not to do this again! Okay?” I nod my head again, even more sheepishly!  It is not the first time, nor I presume, will it be the last one, in which I become the subject of a filial reprimand! How and When did that happen? It didn’t use to be this way back there when, did it? Right on the heels of this, our internet service conked out! No internet! No computer, no phone! At this point, I began feeling totally Fragmented and disheveled! When did my life become tied down to these gadgets in this embryonic way as if detaching from them is the end of my lifeline? Long story short, all was restored the next day! However, were it not for all these new technologies, would my children have given themselves license to think that I am the naughty Child and they the reasonable Adults? This Information Age that makes me dependent on them to guide and teach me? This world where they can look up anything and everything and where I am not the Major Go-To Reference anymore? Have I been replaced so easily by Google? I really need to have a chat about this with Sundar Pichai of Google! No wonder all of that makes me feel even more Fragmented! I am not the only one, though! Technology and this worldwide Virus have exposed a dangerously Fragmented world on so many levels!

That’s when I asked myself how, in the nineties, there was much blabber from politicians and media about how the world had become a village. What village? Where is that figment of our imagination? Everywhere I look it seems as if the fissures between people are widening, not narrowing, especially in these United States. This country is the youngest frontier compared to most of the world where our known civilizations have been thriving for about 5000 years: think China, India and the Middle East as examples. America is the rash, immature teenager of this world who was bestowed an untainted and rich virgin Paradise that had been religiously preserved by its Native American population and who in its zeal invented, produced and became richer and all the more powerful, but, in that process, trashed that pristine environment and ended up, at this point in time, with a dangerously Fragmented nation! How was this allowed to happen? And who, or what, is to blame? Technology? Social Media Platforms? White-Privileged, Corrupt, Selfish Cold-war remnants who make up the majority of our Political Leadership? Our Vaunted, Sensationalist, Divisive Media, who, in this Biden era, send their pathetically incompetent un-Jim Costa-like benchwarmers to the White House briefings and conferences? Runaway Unfettered Capitalism? Abundant Ignorance? We certainly cannot blame Trump for all this, although he was the catalyst that exposed it so blatantly. After all, it had been brewing for decades! We profess that we are a “Christian” nation, however, with all the different sects and interpretations of this “Christianity” we have ended up by being un-Christian in so many ways, and much more Fragmented!

Many Writers, Thinkers, Analysts, Historians and Journalists believe that this nation is in decline – a decline that we have brought upon ourselves by pursuing unjust and passé policies. Humility, Maturity, Peaceful Coexistence and Rapprochement are not – nor were they ever, it now seems – a basis for these policies. Biden, who has throughout his political career supported most of our wars, as well as meddling in other countries, and who is a corporatist, does not seem to be espousing any trajectory that is different from all the other previous Administrations except in the packaging, optics and style, although he might be able to enact some positive policies domestically as has been, thankfully, happening. Otherwise, it is the same old jingoism, militarism and rattling of sabers against those on the international front whom we have labelled as our Enemies! Known for his gaffes, Biden responded to an unnecessarily provocative question by Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes as to whether Putin was a “killer” by agreeing that he was. Really, Joe? And then our State Department’s Blinken, on his first meeting with Chinese Officials, lectured them on China’s behavior and royally pissed them off! Was that necessary? Really, Antony? I think that I need to send both him and Biden back to Diplomacy School! They were both being Arrogant, Confrontational, Divisive, Disrespectful, flaunting Outdated Colonist attitudes that only create more Enemies and invite further Trouble. Really, Joe!!! I must admit, though, that I am not disappointed as I expected this and had set a very low bar for this Administration. And, while I am certainly relieved that chaotic Trump lost his election bid – although he seems to have been right on some of his policies (and Biden is keeping those), especially accelerating vaccine production, nevertheless, it does make me wonder, if our historically haughty, hypocritical foreign policy is really what our Fragmented world needs at this serious and dangerous juncture where, among other matters, we choose to raise issues of human rights violations only when it comes to our enemies, but never when it comes to our allies? Pretty disconcerting when there are other alternatives!