Something important is missing and will never return. Something that defined who I was, long, long, long ago. It’s gone, now, and so is the definition. I am a vacant room; four walls, a ceiling, a floor, but nothing else. Emptiness everywhere. A vacuum. If anything came along to fill it, I would be someone else. I would define myself, and be defined by others, as someone I never was and did not intend to be. So, it is better to remain empty and to remove the “Vacancy” sign, to keep people from trying to fill the void.
Even though I often express a desire to avoid hearing anything about politics, I cannot seem to keep myself from wandering into that emotional battle. This morning, for instance, I walked into that buzz-saw. Fox News is hard for me to stomach, but periodically I skim the organization’s website to learn the current state of its right-wing madness. This morning, I read an opinion piece by Liz Peek, who suggested a way to move forward with the 2024 presidential election without either Trump or Biden. Her idea is that Biden agree to pardon Trump for past, current, and future federal charges in return for dropping out of the presidential race. In return, Trump would convince Republicans to drop investigations into Hunter Biden and the President, provided the President agrees to drop out of the presidential race. That would leave the current field of Republican candidates, except Trump, and would open up the Democratic field to a number of presidential hopefuls, provided the Democrats initiate an open primary. Neither Trump nor Biden are liked and/or respected by the majority of voters. My gut tells me Trump’s indictments will drag out for an eternity plus fifty years. That same gut feel says Republicans will continue their rabid attacks on the father-son Biden team for as long as humans wander the face of Earth. I am in favor of a giving voters a clean slate. While pardoning Trump is an idea I find hard to swallow, I think it would be worth the discomfort if it would lead to a more appealing set of candidates on both sides of the political spectrum. How likely is it that Liz Peek’s idea will morph from fantasy into reality? Nearly nil. But, still, her unlikely fantasy fascinates me.
Divide and rule, the politician cries; unite and lead, is watchword of the wise.
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe ~
I loathe agricultural practices that mistreat animals raised for food. But loathing those practices and hating the unnecessary pain they inflict on animals does not translate into vegetarianism. At least not for me. I skimmed at article on the Vegetarian Resource Group website early this morning. The article, adapted from a talk by John McArdle, Ph.D., asserts that humans are, naturally, omnivores. We are essentially opportunistic eaters, consuming whatever is available and appealing. Our closest primate relative, the chimpanzee, also is an omnivore. In my opinion, the most obvious difference between humans and other omnivores (or carnivores) with regard to eating animal flesh is this: non-humans probably have no compunction about the pain they inflict while pursuing and killing the prey that will serve as the protein they need to survive. Humans, though, tend to have misgivings about the pain inflicted on creatures that serve as part of our diet. Rather than allowing those misgivings to ruin our psychological health, humans tend to bury our thoughts about the processes that led from the farm (or wherever) to our tables. It is easier to be omnivores when the horrors surrounding the raising and killing of animals are silenced in our minds. Yet we seem to be able to tolerate the fact that a cheetah chases and kills an antelope, presumably causing the antelope to experience great pain before its death. Because, I assume, that process is “a fact of nature.” Yet we cannot seem to tolerate the processes involved in raising and killing animals for human consumption. Ultimately, I think we humans can tolerate raising and killing animals, but only if we employ processes that minimize animals’ pain. We do not like to hear about poultry farms in which chickens live their short lives in crowded, dark, horribly uncomfortable conditions. We do not like to know that cattle are fed unnatural diets so the animals fatten quickly; and we hate learning of their miserable living conditions. Ditto pigs. And every other sentient creature that dies in order for us to enjoy diets that include, naturally, animal protein. For my part, I think humans can get by on less meat than Americans tend to eat (and it is possible, of course, to live without any animal protein). But I am not in favor of shaming people into becoming vegetarians by reminding them of the horrors of raising and killing animals for food. I am in favor of minimizing the stresses and pain inflicted on animals. Of course, the reasons for the practices in use today involve financial issues; making life better for livestock, etc. would have the effect of increasing the cost of animal protein, which would negatively impact people who already struggle financially. Given adequate thought and commitment, I am confident humans could successfully address those effects. It is natural for humans to eat meat. We may wish it were not so, but such a wish would be a pointless exercise in abject futility.
How long would a person last if he believed no one loved him? Would the lack of love be sufficient to cause a person to react to the world around him by withering and dying? I suspect a sincere belief that no one—not parents, not siblings, not “friends,” nobody at all—loves you would be more than enough to cause you to lose the will to live. But I think even people who feel abandoned, alone, and unlovable feel, at their core, that someone loves them. They may not know who, but they think someone must. And, I further suspect, that is probably true. Someone does. And that little sliver of realistic hope is enough to keep a person going. But there are people who are utterly alone. No family, no friends, not even someone to talk to. Those people, I think, are most at risk. Without love, there is no reason to live. There is no reward to staying alive, without love. Love really does keep us going. Love prevents us from stepping off a precipice into oblivion. Yet even where there is love, emptiness and pain can still exist. So love may not be enough. What else do we need to feel that life is worth living? That question is hard to answer. So hard that I will not try. At least not now. I think the answer will require a focused effort by a group of people dedicated to finding, and then sharing, the answer. Will it happen? Who knows? I don’t.
Tears are the silent language of grief.
~ Voltaire ~
Tears are considered proof of weakness. Yet criers are labeled “sensitive,” as well, the label equivalent to permission to cry. But the idea of underlying weakness remains, even when tears are celebrated as evidence of feelings…despite the sense that feelings are best hidden away, lest they become ammunition for mockery. Tears, even tears of joy, arise from a deep, unconquerable grief. A grief so vast that it defies description. Tears speak, quietly, of sorrow that refuses to depart; loss that leaves reminders in every breath and every glance.
An empty calendar awaits. I can do anything. Or nothing at all.