Things fall apart.
Last week, The Wife told me Mercury was in retrograde and who am I to argue with The Wife, especially in writing? To be honest, I thought “retrograde” was the old name for Leningrad, but apparently it has something to do with how long my Honey-Do list is.
Due to cosmic forces (and over-use due to months of being housebound) pretty much everything we own stopped working, including our internet connection, which means I stopped working.
I called the internet people which is like dialing 911 in Seattle’s Autonomous Zone. Eventually, I penetrated their prompts and requested a service technician to come to my house. After the laughter died down, I was coached through the obligatory unplugging and plugging of the modem, which did nothing.
Meanwhile, our clothes dryer is making our clothes wetter; the coffee grinder just spins our beans around making them dizzy. The cats are healthy, knock wood, but both The Wife and your faithful columnist need crowns. Or our dentists need us to need crowns because, let’s face it: business has been slow for everyone during the pandemic.
Yes, things fall apart. Don’t believe me? Read the rest of today’s paper.
It’s not just the stuff I own that’s crumbling; it’s the national consensus, the uniquely American ties that bind us together as a people. America is fraying like The Wife’s right front tire, with traditions toppling faster than Confederate Generals. Jokes told and opinions once freely shared now come at the risk of instantaneous unemployment and public disgrace. Not even our pantries are exempt from this cultural day of reckoning.
Eskimo Pies are out; so too Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben, Mrs. Butterworth and even the African American chef on the Cream of Wheat box. All these years I thought I was eating right, but it turns out I was eating white. The “Breakfast of Champions” turns out to be the “Breakfast of Supremacists.”
We are at each other throats over everything; one man’s hero is another man’s oppressor. Even beloved Teddy Roosevelt is in for a rough ride. My breakfast is someone else’s painful reminder of second-class citizenship and demeaning stereotyping. That’s no small thing. That I was totally unaware millions of African Americans felt this way about Aunt Jemima is no small thing either.These are revolutionary times; culturally, economically and technologically. History teaches us that in every revolution in all epochs of history in every land on earth, old statues come down and new statues go up.In 1776, George Washington’s troops celebrated the reading of the Declaration of Independence by toppling a brand statue of King George III. Now, Washington, Jefferson and even Grant and Lincoln are toppling, considered past their expiration date by many who see them as oppressors rather than liberators. But tearing down is the easy part of a revolution. Washington, Jefferson and our other Founders earned their pedestals by building not just destroying. In 1917, the Bolsheviks toppled the Czars. They were replaced with monuments to Lenin and Stalin, the world’s most prolific murderers. How’d that work out? It was Joseph Stalin who said, “He who controls the past controls the future.”
The United States has worked up till now because the center, both economic and political, has held.
The one exception was the Civil War.
Today, like those terrible days of brother killing brother, we find ourselves unable to come together on much of anything, not even who our heroes are.