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I thought there was a reason to carry on. There is. But it wasn't what I thought. This is what I thought lying in bed, before the crack of dawn.

Tough times are not theoretical. For the most part, the haves have less, and the have nots most definitely have not. It's easy to package things up in nice little numbers, and bandy them about. But in the real world, the digits get restless, We're flesh and blood, and our children get hungry. Often.

It's easy to cast blame. Just pick a villain and go with it.

Have you ever seen a movie of sperm? I'm sorry if that's a gross subject for you, but they really are quite stupid. They jockey for position, get confused, run into each other, crowd into a limited space and generally act delirious. So much of the modern information age seems like that. Billions of sperm vying for singular attention. Look at me, look at me now! I'm the important one here, not all those other sperm that look just like me!

In some ways the analogy is not far fetched. More and more of us are crowding onto the planet. Never have there been so many of us. Not even close. The Earth is groaning, and it's not in ecstasy. The polar ice caps are melting, for chrissake. Somethings gotta give. It keeps coming up with pestilences and such. We keep fighting them. If nothing else, we're a stubborn lot.

Ultimately, all of us, all multiple billions of us, just have one fervent desire. We want to look good on television. That's what it's come down to in our society. Everything else is superfluous. And if we can't pull that off ourselves, then we want to align ourselves with someone who can.

And yet that's no real reason to carry on. We all know that. The only real reasons are the same reasons that have always been, since we gathered round the communal fire and communicated long distances by shouting. Children. Grandchildren. Friends. Family. Pets. The basic need for food and shelter. These are the real reasons, and the only ones that have any actual validity.

Therein lies the value of hard times. They remind us what is real. What is important. Whether we wish to be reminded or not.

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Comment by wiffledust on November 25, 2009 at 9:19am
what you're saying, donna, just brought to mind a visual for me. i just pictured an ever-changing landscape where the focus is on the choices we make in that landscape. in that vista if you will. so different scenarios come and go..good, bad, joyful, painful, miserable, miraculous, etc...but the game , the action is always in the choices. like screen, better get the paints. oooo mountain view, better get the awe....verrrry interesting!!!
Comment by Donna Stumpo on November 25, 2009 at 7:35am
i would suggest that tough times simply exacerbate what is already a reality: that we always have the right to choose good or evil, that we will for the most part try to make good choices, and a few of us will continue to be greedy and selfish and will make bad choices.......and that each and every decision we make affects others. i look at the film "blindness" and i see that "tough times" does exactly that: adversity brings it home a little more obviously, thats all. each day, each minute each breath is a decision........we have the gift and responsibility of choice.........
Comment by wiffledust on November 25, 2009 at 12:49am
you're beautifully hopeless! i pray you're right. the polarization that's been going on for about 30 years is really getting old, isn't it? i think the election of obama represents the country's desire to move together again. but we have to keep people's minds open so they don't spend their time being told what to think ad feel by one or two fools on tv or radio...
Comment by wiffledust on November 25, 2009 at 12:26am
i guess it depends upon us, right, susie? what we do with the hard times is up to us. but i think it's up to the collective us as well as the individual us. because i think sometimes it's very hard to rise out of the ashes alone. but with the hand of even one friend miracles can happen. and when a whole community helps its hurt members, wonders happen. i think we are amazingly resilient. but i really think as a society we have to get back to helping each other out. it seems like it went out of fashion 50 years ago!
Comment by wiffledust on November 24, 2009 at 7:42pm
it surely does do that, susie. but i also worry that hard times has alot of damage too. understanding and compassion are most definitely bred in hard times. and it certainly nudges and often forces creativity. but i want to believe that good times can do the same thing...good times doesn't force us though. i don't know what i'm saying except i want us all to be careful of the "hard times breeds character " thing , because sometimes hard times breeds ugliness...and we all have to jump in and prevent that. i'm preaching to the choir here though. but in the world in general, i just wish more rich folks were recognizing the hard times of poor folk right now....sigh...
Comment by wiffledust on November 24, 2009 at 9:57am
great topic and well-written, david. i struggle with this topic. as a matter of fact, i was just discussing this with a friend of mine. he adamantly believes that we need tough times or we wouldn't appreciate the good stuff. but i wonder. sometimes tough times just make me mean, scared, or anxious. but i agree, they do make you know what's important. and so little of what we concern ourselves with every day is important. the globalization of "us" at the expense of the "local community" of us whether it be in neighorhoods or families has made us all nuts. i truly believe that. we were not meant to be alone or even with one nuclear family and focused on oprah. we are meant to live in communities....larger ones than mom, dad, and junior. and we're meant to be focused on those people, not on what's happening on tv. that's one good thing poverty can do. get people to live among each other again.

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