*This post is Day Four of the January Nablopomo 30-day blogging challenge hosted by BlogHer.
I have shared several times about the process of working on my book, but I haven’t shared much of the actual story. Here’s a little snippet that I’ve been editing. I’m looking forward to having the finished product published and selling like hotcakes later in 2015! I’ve had trouble coming up with a title, though. I’m open to ideas!
“I just keep thinking that it can’t be that bad.” I paused, trying to find the words to explain exactly what I meant. “The world can be an ugly place. You would have to be blind to not notice that people have made a terrible mess of things. We don’t take care of our planet like we should. We don’t take care of each other like we should. We need to do better at helping those who can’t help themselves. We can be cruel to one another. We are greedy and selfish. We do bad things to each other every day.”
“But…” he prompted.
“But it’s not all like that!” I declared. This is what I kept coming back to. “There are food pantries where people give their time and money to feed the hungry. There are teachers who would – who do – die to protect their students. And hospice workers who sit for hours and hours with the dying and their families, just to offer them some comfort. There is so much good in the world! And hasn’t it always been that way? Hasn’t there always been lots of good and lots of bad, all mixed together? At least, ever since Eve ate the apple or whatever it was that happened back then?”
“I suspect you’re right,” Michael agreed.
“So… then… why now? What has tipped the scales to create this mess where the human race is at risk of being wiped off the face of the earth? What has our generation done that is so much more terrible than the generation that invented the atomic bomb? Or the generation that fought the crusades? Or the generation that dreamed up the Coliseum and sold little children for sexual pleasure to the grown men who came to watch their fellow humans be slaughtered for entertainment?”
We were both quiet for a moment, pondering history as we understood it. When viewed in retrospect the horrors of humanity were many and every generation was guilty. I wasn’t sure what else to say and Michael was obviously processing my question. One of the things I loved about him was that he was always thoughtful in his speech. He wasn’t really a quiet man but he never wasted his words. “Maybe it’s not about that.” He said finally. Maybe it’s not about what we are all doing with ourselves so much as why we are doing it. Maybe there is something in our hearts now, some guiding thought process, that is different than it was in the past.
I considered that. “Maybe. But don’t our actions usually mirror our hearts?”
“I think so. But I also think, sometimes, it takes time for outward appearances to show a true image of the inner workings of a man. I think every person, in every culture, in every era, has some concept of what “right” should look like. Well… I mean… there are always some people who are just broken – you know? The Hannibal Lectors of the world. But everyone else, everyone “normal,” is born with a sense of right and wrong. Some things seem negotiable. Spanking a child may be deemed right by one culture in one time and wrong in another. But beating a child is understood to be wrong by everyone, everywhere, in every time period.”
“Some cultures let a man beat his kids without repercussion,” I argued.
“True, but no society ever says, ‘look at that big strong, brave guy who just nobly beat the crap out of that toddler.’ Maybe they allow it, but they don’t applaud it. All people seem to know there’s just something wrong in harming a child. What if there is some sort of prevailing attitude in our world today that will lead us into a time when that little voice is silenced completely? It would take a generation or two or three or ten before the entirety, or even the majority, of society had ‘gone over’ but it would have to start somewhere. What if we are nearing some sort of tipping point?”
“What is it, though? What is so broken in us that wasn’t in our great grandparents?”
I don’t know.” He shrugged and rolled his eyes dramatically. “It’s not like I’m the one who sits around talking to angels.”
I gave him my best skunk eye and he held up his hands in surrender, an adorably charming smile dancing, just behind his eyes. “Tell you what. The maniacs in the other room are a constant distraction for a woman tasked with saving the species. Why don’t I take them today? We’ll go to the bouncy place and I’ll lock them in the inflatable room and let them work all that energy out and you can go chant in a cave or something and see if you can’t think this through. Just be home in time for dinner. I’m thinking we need to order Chinese and I don’t want to be here alone when Ike goes for the sweet and sour sauce head first.
I often marveled at how much I loved him. “It sounds perfect. I know exactly what I need to do.” And, suddenly, I did, though there was neither chanting nor a cave involved. As soon as the offer of a quiet kid-free day was held up in front of me I had a plan.
I helped Michael get the boys into shoes and out the door and then headed off to the mall.
It was a forty minute drive to my favorite mall. Some days forty minutes seemed to be forever but on that day I ejected the CD of endlessly looping “Learn With Mickey Mouse” songs, turned on my favorite “best of the 80’s” station and sang at the top of my voice, enjoying every minute of the rare solitude I’d been granted. The sheer volume at which Prince and Michael Jackson belted out their hits assured that I didn’t hear anything other than the music, either in my head or with my ears. I parked in the Macy’s parking garage and headed in through the sliding glass doors. My plan was simple. I would plant myself in the middle of a sea of people. I would wander the halls and sit in the the center court and I would listen and watch. I was going to observe my fellow man as objectively as I could.
I turned right and moseyed through the Juniors department where a little group of gorgeous, college-aged girls were picking through the clearance racks. “What do you think of this one?” one of them asked. Another glanced up from behind the rounder. “It’s gorgeous! Can you afford it?”
“Who cares? I can’t afford any of this. That’s what credit cards were invented for!” They all laughed and agreed with her.
I walked on and found a tired-looking mother and her obviously unhappy son in the boy’s department. “Do you like the blue shirt or the red shirt?”
The boy shrugged. “I don’t care.”
“Well… dinosaurs or guitars?”
“So I should just get the cheapest thing I can find and you’ll wear it no matter what, right?”
The mom looked like she was on the verge of tears and I felt her pain. I’d had similar conversations with Donovan.
In the cavernous, echoing hallway outside the store a group of silver-haired ladies in red hats bustled along in a little cluster. One of them was telling a story making great sweeping gestures with her right hand that, once or twice, came perilously close to her companion’s face, and carrying an arm full of large paper shopping bags from some of the pricier stores with her left hand. “So I told them, of course, that they simply can’t expect a poor old woman like me, living on a fixed income, to give to every charity that knocks on the door. Those people need to stop trying to take everything they can from old ladies like me and get a job! If they can afford their fancy phones, they can afford to buy milk and diapers for their own babies!”
The old women passed a young mom tossing pennies in the fountain with her children. “The polar bears eat the coins?” The little girl asked.
“No, baby. The people from the zoo come and get the coins and they use them to buy food and other things the polar bears need.”
“Why don’t they just let them live at the North Pole?”
“Well…” the mom hesitated, obviously sensing that this was one of those conversations which was going to stretch into an endless series of questions that would quickly become totally unanswerable. “The weather is changing at the North Pole. Some people think that it’s a good idea for us to protect some of the bears in zoos so that, no matter what happens at the north pole a few of the bears will always be safe.”
“Why is the weather changing?”
“I don”t know,” she answered. “It’s just one of those things that happen. Come on now. It’s almost story time. We don’t want to miss it!” She turned and tossed her styrofoam cup, still half full, into the plastic-lined bin, strapped the younger child into a plastic stroller, and handed each of the little ones a disposable foil juice pouch and they hurried off down the hall.
“What if your manager finds out?” Asked a young man talking to a girl working at one of the kiosks in the middle of the hall where they sold fun-colored covers for electronic devices. His whole attention as focused on her and he was grinning. Everything about him brought to mind the image of a puppy.
“Nobody cares. It’s just one little thing.”
I walked on and listened and a very clear pattern began to emerge. Young people and old, richly dressed and poorly attired, mothers, children, men, women, happy, angry, tired, working, shopping: they were all saying the same things.
“I don’t care.”
“It doesn’t matter.”
Of course, there were endless variations on these but, over and over again they were echoed. In almost every snippet of conversation I could catch I heard some form of the same thing. For some it was as simple as, “I don’t care where we have lunch, you pick.” For others it seemed nearly desperate. “Nothing matters in my life.”
These people weren’t doing anything inherently bad (except maybe the girl at the electronic cover place. I’m pretty sure she was ripping off her employer.). They were just living their lives. But that’s all they were doing. Just living… existing. They had no passion or direction or fire. A Bible verse I’d learned as a little child came to me. “So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
Was it possible that we had become an entire society of people who were lukewarm? Was that the problem? Had we danced, so long, upon that fine line in the middle that we’d become a broken people, unable to care passionately about anything? I considered history. Whose name had been remembered? Ghangis Khan, Alexander the Great, Joan of Arc, Cleopatra, DaVinci, Shakespeare, Columbus, Napoleon, Salk, Hitler, Churchill, Ford, Gandhi… these were men and women whose names had lived on far beyond their years. Some of them had been judged bad and others good. Most were thought to be mad by their contemporaries. But whatever you thought about what they had done they had been men and women of action and of immense passion. They cared. They were never lukewarm. And they propelled the human race forward in all sorts of ways through their zeal.
What could be accomplished by a society that completely lacked passion, belief or conviction? What would happen if that lack of passion was touted as freedom and sold as a bill of goods to al the people in the entire world?
What would happen if even the angels began to buy into the philosophy that we shouldn’t care about or speak up for or against anything beyond those issues that directly affect us?
I shivered. Suddenly, more than anything in the world, I wanted to be home with my husband and children again.
Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?
Why not follow LazyHippieMama on WordPress, by email or Facebook to get all the updates.
If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!
If you enjoyed my blog, it would mean a lot to me if you’d toss me a vote by clicking the Top Mommy Blog banner. Thanks!