Seeing Through a Glass Darkly as 2010 Dawns

We have lived to see 2010, you and I. How is the New Year treating you so far, whoever you are that’s reading this? I hope 2010 will be better than 2009, and that your dreams will come true – some of them, anyway. As for me, I am in a funky mood.

The holidays are over, our visiting loved ones have gone home. Sandra and I are alone with our dog, Maxi, and the cats – Emily, Buttercup and Delilah, who get to stay inside, out of the freezing weather, and Zoe and Bogie, who are outside – Bogie because he would go berserk if he felt penned up and Zoe because she is Emily’s daughter, and Emily would attack her ferociously if we brought her in.  Emily, (who was our neighbor’s cat until she found us) had 10 kittens and after weaning them cannot abide being anywhere near them. If one of her offspring shows up, normally mild mannered Emily turns into a screaming Banshee, all claws and fangs.)

Tonight, the forecast is for freezing temperatures, and Sandra is hatching a clandestine strategy to smuggle Zoe inside for the night. We’ll see how that goes.

I forgot to get bird seed when I went to the supermarket yesterday but there was a bag of mixed nuts left over from the holidays and the squirrels lucked out. It’s so cold that there aren’t any birds about, anyway. Sandra picked up a bag of bird seed at Publix this morning so it will be business as usual for the squirrels and any birds hardy enough to hang around while the cold front passes through.

warMeanwhile, I see that President Obama is hinting at some kind of “escalation” in Yemen. I suppose that means more bombing. I hope it doesn’t mean boots on the ground, as the military bigwigs put it. There are too many American boots on the ground as it is – in Iraq and Afghanistan, for example. The bodies above those boots are far too vulnerable to improvised explosive devices (photo at right).

I look out the window at a leaden lake merging with a winter sky in a backdrop of foreboding, and my heart sinks. I see no peace in 2010. No progress for mankind. I see the same old same old, as the kids used to say.

Internal squabbling and deliberate misunderstanding will persist, and political expediency will dictate the policies of the powerful. Our leaders will do what they have to do even when they know they could – and should – do better.  If President Obama, for example, doesn’t do the politically acceptable thing, his critics will be baying at his heels, and there’s an election coming this year. All the House seats will be at risk, and 30 Senate seats are being contested.

It is the curse of democracy. A stupid person has the same one vote as a smart person. And there are so many stupid people. Wasn’t it Winston Churchill who said democracy is the worst form of government – except for all the others?

Inexorably, the world spirals ever more deeply into the abyss as the tyranny of the masses forces society’s leaders into following the dictates of the lowest common denominator. The human condition is essentially a conflict between the angel and the animal in all of us. As I peer into the gloom, I see the animal becoming increasingly triumphant. The barbarians are at the gate.

God preserve us … and the dogs … and cats … and birds … and squirrels. Let us pray for the troops, risking their lives to keep civilization safe from terror, however misguided their leaders’ tactics may be. And let us pray, too, for those people half a world away who will be blown to pieces as “collateral damage” in a dispute they know nothing about.