Okay, so we’re all poised to dive off this Fiscal Cliff. And now I hear that Warren Jeffs, the imprisoned FLDS leader is saying that the world will end before the New Year. Is he plotting some kind of remote control Jim Jones type of Götterdammerung to astonish and sicken us all with tomorrow morning’s coffee?
Yes, both craziness and sanity exist side by side in this most imperfect of all worlds. Some are preparing for the worst, others are calmly trying to get on with their lives while alarms are ringing all around them. House Speaker John Boehner and his Tea Party minions are pretending that nothing bad will happen if they jerk our chains so bad that we are strangled by them. And Barack Obama is laughing as if he knew something we didn’t.
The earth is heating up rapidly, and the land is ravaged by superstorms of increasing intensity. We continue to assume that peak gasoline will never arrive: After all, can’t we just ramp up the fracking?
In 2013, life will continue to change at a frumious [sic] pace. Little by little, some of us will fall off the jet-powered skateboards we are on and refuse to get back on. Suddenly, we will start remembering things—little things—that are no more, even if they are as innocuous as Twinkies or a favorite brand of hair shampoo or spicy cookies shaped like Dutch windmills or bookstores or Westerns or Moderate Republicans. Inevitably, they are replaced with new things, some of which are worthy replacements, others of which are strictly blow lunch, to use an old Dartmouth expression.
We will struggle on. Some of us will fall by the wayside, only to replaced by new people, people who are different but undoubtedly have many things to recommend them.
In the New Year, some horrible things will happen. Crazy people will shoot up innocents and turn their guns on themselves, thinking they will go to hell with plenty of company. Sports teams will break records. Individual athletes will break records, sometimes without the help of performing-enhancing drugs.
How will we keep our sanity? In the novel I am reading, Vasily Grossman’s Life and Fate, there is a quote I particularly like: “The world has progressed no further than the truth spoken by a sixth-century Christian: ‘Condemn the sin and forgive the sinner.’”