What’s one consistent thread through my 150,000 miles of mostly backroads travel? My astonishment of how devastated our country has become. I’ve traveled some of the same paths, and can’t help but notice the increased deterioration of communities as I rumble through: for sale signs, boarded-up businesses, unkempt municipal properties, more people begging on street corners…not good signs.
My HEAR US trip from IL to Houston at the end of September was no different. As I wended my way through Illinois highways, I remembered back to the 80s when we saw massive grassroots efforts, led by the likes of Willie Nelson with his Farm Aid, to attempt to stave off the disastrous bank takeover of family farms back in the good ol’ days.
Not so much anymore, as the tsunami-like economy has managed to ravage those who would help out as well as those standing too close to the edge. With this destruction comes a lot of survival mode, every man for themselves, forget women and children into lifeboats first. We're a nation deep into denial.
And what a mess we’ve made of things. State governments, free to drift the way of political winds, are seeing themselves holding the shredded bag of former government—as in the feds—support. The very states where poverty is the worst are making plans to refuse to extend medical care to people who cannot afford insurance, slashing welfare for those "freeloaders" who haven't managed the bootstrap trick, kicking homeless families in the gut, tax burdens that they seemingly are. All in the name of political brutality.
I find myself wondering if the pace of the destruction of civilization as we know it will match the pace of technological advances. A trade-off if you will. Then my thoughts snap back to remember this world has lasted millions of years, having undergone major events that were nothing less that catastrophic. Becoming immobilized by today’s crises would do no good.
And I call to mind the good people I’ve met along these 150,000 miles, those who have offered support—moral, financial, spatial, and material. In whatever way possible, we need to preserve and strengthen the thread of goodness, kindness, and justice. Weave it like a rescue line, and cast it to those who would otherwise be lost.
It’s the same story told generation to generation: rich and powerful bullies against the impoverished and seemingly insignificant masses. What keeps me going, among other things, is knowing the sweet taste of victory of the little ones over the big bad ones. The turtle beats the hare. Good over evil. Yeah. I still believe, after all these years and miles. So stick around. It will get interesting.
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