It's almost a relief. All these weeks of suspense, imagining there was a chance that the Democrats could win the US presidential election when the cards were stacked so heavily against them, have now ended. We can resume life as we know it, extracting tiny scraps of meaning from the great blocks of brutishness and stupidity that surround us.
I will admit that the early hours of Wednesday were grim -- it was awful to see the numbers crawling up, never quite crossing the mark and then ... ahhhh. Knowing that Bush actually won the popular vote this time makes it all the more disheartening, though, like I said, it's a weird kind of relief, a negative relief. It's better for those of us who believe in freedom, democracy, human dignity, respect for all living things, respect for the planet, to KNOW the truth about the rest of humanity, than to live in ignorance of what the majority of our species is like. It helps us to be on our guard and it keeps us alert. It makes it impossible for us to pretend that something like a single election in just one of the world's nations -- even if that nation is the most powerful one, currently -- would be enough to turn our species off the lemming-path it is currently racing along.
So after an initial morning of melancholia, I have slipped back into my normal life -- as, I am sure, have most of us. No doubt the Republicans are wriggling about in their pleasure-palaces, like leeches in a blood bank, feeling obscenely thrilled with themselves. But they're on the same planet as the rest of us, and when their shameless excesses rebound on everybody, they will suffer too -- EVENTUALLY.
This is cold comfort, of course. But what else is there to think about now? After all: if you and I can afford to spend a small part of our lives on the internet, surfing non-essential websites such as this one, it means, most likely, that we spend only the tiniest part of our working day fretting about environmental and political realities. By contrast, there are millions of fellow-humans for whom there is no stepping back from the crisis -- they do not say, "Oh, things are bound to get worse!" because for them there is nothing worse than what they live with TODAY.
So it occurred to me, as I fretted in my genteel, armchair-ridden way, that there's no genteel approach to solving the world's problems. The day will come when there will be no armchairs, and no leisure time, not even for the wealthy. This is already true in some parts of the world, but until it's true for everyone, the chances are ... we'll do what we can to maintain the status quo to suit wherever we're at.
This is a bleak thought, yes. But I was thinking about the Black Death today (there's a sort of reason for it -- I mean, aside from the Republican victory -- some months ago, I posted small note-papers in different rooms in the house, with historical events listed per century on them. It's supposedly a method of remembering what happened in which century. Today, standing in the 1300s, which happens to coincide with the kitchen, I caught a glimpse of my note-paper, peeping out from behind a shelf-door, where it had been hidden for some months) and I was thinking about the almost inconceivable horror of those times: the darkness of ignorance competing with the nightmare scourge whose cause and remedy were to remain unknown for countless decades ahead.
Quite possibly, we are sliding towards another type of cataclysm, along different lines perhaps, but surely just as horrific. Knowing this may not save us from the slide. Then again, maybe we can become more conscientious about conserving those things that are good and worth saving so that whenever next humankind heaves its way up out of the slime again, our era will be interpreted accurately. Books, I think, are the best way to preserve a record of what we have known of reality -- I don't think electronic data will be retrievable as readily as books.
Stone would be better, of course, but a trifle bulky.