Sunday, July 6, 2008

We're going to be okay

Everyone seems scared. It makes sense, especially here in Maine, where our winters are six months long. A friend tried to prepay for her home heating oil at $5.15 and the company said they weren't accepting any prepays this year.

A woman at my knitting group said she was wondering if she could cope with setting her thermostat at 55 degrees. We talked about our grandparents, who wore nightcaps to bed. The little joke I made in a past blog entry about huddling 'round the stove wearing fingerless gloves is starting to look like more of a reality.

I like fingerless gloves, wool caps and sweaters. One good thing about the cold is you can layer on more clothes. If it's hot, there's only so much you can take off.

It's the beginning of July and everyone around me is talking about the coming winter. The man who owns the general store here says he will not allow anyone to freeze to death this winter. Is he going to give away oil?

Some folks are buying guns and stockpiling whatever they can, fearful that their neighbors may come over to steal from them. The end is nigh! I don't want to make fun of others' fears, but I feel differently, and I feel it quite strongly.

We are going to be okay. We will not be killing each other, freezing to death or dying of starvation. At heart, people in this country are good, or at least they believe themselves to be. If we know our neighbors (and I think that's important) we can't let them go cold or hungry.

Photo note: Bread line, New York City 1928
I still can put gas in my car, go to a supermarket and buy bread. Not only is there enough bread, but you can choose from a huge variety: white, wheat, 16 grain, sourdough, oatmeal, raisin. . .There's so much bread they throw the stuff away when it's reached its sell-by date. If we are suffering, well, I think we ought to look outside our borders or to our forebears and realize just how rich we are. I say this not to induce guilt, but to introduce a dose of reality, and not just for you, but for myself as well.

What truly irks me is that right-wing talk radio is so negative while claiming to be patriotic. This country was settled by people who helped each other out. WIthout community, no one would have survived. Sure, there were places where the gun ruled, but that was an exception to the rule.

I feel strongly that we are going to be okay. Maybe we'll be more than okay. Is it possible that some deprivation may make people wake up to the more important things in life? Our country is not a happy one. We rate pretty low on the happiness scale (go google that and find the number - Denmark is number one in happiness). What do the people in Denmark do differently? A group of Danes on "60 Minutes" talked about their lives: friends, family and satisfaction with ordinary life. One person said "I think Americans are too preoccupied with getting rich."

What is the average person to think and feel when a "star", whether they're in sports, television, film or music, makes millions of dollars? Or the CEO of a company makes more than any person could possibly need while at the same time, workers at the bottom are being laid off or don't even make a living wage?

We need to get our priorities in line. Meet our neighbors. Care about simpler things. Yes, the price of gas, home heating oil and groceries are going up. It's a scary time.

What if this caused more people to car pool, eat meals together and pool their resources? Y'know, I'd enjoy my life a little bit more if this were true.

If you are a doggedly rugged individualist, which is the other American archetype, you may be headed for trouble. But for the folks who think that this country is typified by neighbors coming over to borrow a cup of flour, share some extra pie or pull together to raise a barn, shovel the driveway for an older person, deliver casseroles to the home-bound, knit caps for cancer patients, and all the other little things we do without thinking to support our communities, we'll be more than okay. We'll be fine and perhaps we'll all be the better for it.

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