The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Archive for the ‘classical music’ Category

THIS UNCERTAIN WORLD

There are times that I lean back in my chair and think to myself, “Self.  Maybe the left is right.  (I really like that sentence for its internal absurdity).  Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world and a fabulous life if we all could have whatever we wanted without having to work for it; if we could know in advance what the next wonderful thing in store for us was; if we had no anxiety, no worries, no care; if we didn’t have to be concerned about our future because it would be clear to us what that would be?”

What would be the practical effect of actually knowing the future – even an assured future where everyone’s material wants were met?  I think the answer is – boredom – and the introduction of more anxiety.

Although it seems paradoxical as we all strive to eliminate uncertainty from our lives, it is uncertainty which makes life both interesting and challenging.  If we truly knew the future there would be no reason to watch a sporting event – or for that matter play it.  Imagine how inspired an infielder on the Yankees would feel if he knew that his team was going to lose to the White Sox that day by a score of 7 – 3.

The casinos would close their doors in short order.  Since 22 was the next number to come up on the roulette wheel, that’s where all bets would be.  And if we knew that a five was the next card that would be dealt, the astute blackjack player would take a hit on his 16, despite the fact that the dealer was showing a bust card.  Horse races would be a thing of the past and we’d have to find a different way to spend our Saturday and Sunday afternoons as football would hold no appeal.

There would be no stock market and no market for stocks.  Knowing the unfortunate end that it would meet, we would never have built the Challenger and we would have saved the lives of the seven astronauts who were on board.  We would not have spent months of air time discussing the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Flight 370 as, knowing its fate, the Malaysian government would not have allowed it to fly and no passenger would have boarded it.

In such a world of certainty there would be no room for a Shakespeare or an Ibsen or a Hitchcock.  Drama and suspense can not exist unless there is the possibility of alternate endings.  The comedy clubs would close because we would all know the punch line.  In such a world would Michelangelo have begun the long process of painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel or Mozart composed his tremendous volume of work knowing that despite his genius he would never escape a state of perpetual poverty and be buried in a pauper’s grave?

Of course there is one other and perhaps the most frightening aspect of living in a world certain.  Each of us would know the exact time and means by which death would show up at our doorstep and come for us.  It would be as though we, like the “replicants” that were brought into being in “Blade Runner,” had an internal clock built into us by our maker, a clock that was sealed at the factory and which was constantly winding down, bringing us ever more closely to the moment we took our final breath.

What would people who lived in such an environment do with their time and their lives?  I suspect that it would be very little.  This would be a world in which ennui would have been raised to its ultimate expression.  There would be little incentive to succeed and no repercussions for failure.  This would be a world in which people saw little reason for hope and no reason for change.  It would be a world in which we had given over our lives and activities to fate – and accepted that “what would be would be.”

And if one day, we learned that a massive meteor was headed directly toward us and would impact the Earth three years later, would we be able to marshal the fortitude to try to defend ourselves from this potentially life-destroying event?  Or would we sit back and thank our lucky stars that finally something out of our control had come to put an end to our insufferable misery?

FOLLOW THE LIEDER

 

Despite his brief thirty-one years, Franz Schubert was one of the most prolific composers of the classical age.  Among other compositions, he had more than six hundred secular songs (lieder) to his credit.  “Die Forelle” is one of the most charming and best known of these.

I’m fairly certain that when Schubert composed this song he was thinking little more than of an encounter between the fish and fisherman – which ended badly for the trout.  But as I listened to this lovely song I thought to myself that there is a clear analogy between the story Schubert told and our world today.

Perhaps you’ve heard President Obama’s recent statement that, “This is the world’s most tranquil period in human history.”  I know that he recently went to Colorado to fund raise.  Perhaps he stopped at one of the recently opened marijuana shops and picked up a stash of weed.

Domestically we have an influx  of illegals entering the country.  Sadly, some of them are trying to escape horrible conditions in their home countries and we all, if we are compassionate, have concern for them – whether they are children or adults.  But before we offer our largesse to these visitors, ought we not have at least as much concern for our own citizens – particularly our black citizens – who live in our inner cities and are subject to as much violence as any of these newcomers?  Two thirds of American voters believe that is the case.

In addition to NSA spying on everyone in the world with a phone or an email account we now find out that the CIA which is supposed to operate only internationally has been prying into the private affairs of U. S. senators.  More is being revealed daily that the “phony scandal” at the IRS seems to be a calculated plan to destroy the administration’s opposition politically.  Whether the sole perpetrator of the conspiracy was Lois Lerner or whether others were both willing and involved participants remains to be learned.

We as a nation have now given Obamacare it’s worst approval rating since it began to be implemented.  This FUBAR law has yet to see its most important implications but those will be coming soon as insurers review their pool of customers (as best they can as there are many who think they are insured but are regularly being denied coverage since healthcare.gov’s back end still isn’t function correctly despite the system’s $800 million cost) and consumers who don’t like the law now are in for a big surprise as they receive their premium notices for 2015 and the employer mandate kicks in finally.

Internationally – well, where do we even start?  There is a mini war going on in Ukraine.  Two weeks after the downing of MH 17 there are still the bodies of eighty victims rotting in the fields.  An Ebola epidemic is breaking out in west Africa – with possible worldwide consequences should it be exported.  Hamas has already broken this weekend’s 72 hour cease fire with Israel – hours after it was adopted.  ISIS claims to have taken over and is now in control of Benghazi, Libya.  This list is far from complete.  If this is tranquility then it is hard for me to imagine what turmoil must look like.

With this litany of issues that are fomenting, what do we see our government doing?  The quick answer is that like our clever fisherman who stirred up the waters to muddy the hapless trout’s perspective, the administration is trying to focus the public’s attention on things like a purported impeachment effort (this is pure hype) and the injustice that heaps opprobrium on any caring citizen because of the Washington Redskins team name.  To quote one of my favorite political pundits of all time, Charlie Brown, “Good grief.”

The president and his administration have added an entirely new meaning to the expression, “Muddying up the waters.”  It’s only a shame that those who voted for a second four year Obama administration and now regret that decision hadn’t the perspicacity to see what so many of us realized in 2008 and got hooked when the waters were still clear.

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