Now on my Wednesday morning commute, we had what they call a “blizzard”. You know, whiteout conditions and lots of this fluffy white stuff everywhere. (25 inches of it at my place, with drifts over four feet in height)
More or less in the middle of this commute, I watched several vehicles driving sideways down an off-ramp, tires spinning as they fought for traction… and oddly enough I had something of an epiphany.
As I read the news and watch television, I realize that we are all doing the same thing. As a society, as a nation, we realize that we’ve lost control and that something is wrong. Watching the faces of the drivers, I saw anger, fear, panic, and even some people having fun as they careened down to the highway. As our world spirals out of control around us, people, in turn, are reacting in similar fashions. Some are angry, some afraid, and some people are completely panicked.
Just like those people (who thankfully made it onto the freeway without collision), we all react to the situation in different ways, but we all have that sick, sliding feeling as we know that something is going horribly wrong.
It is human nature to want someone to blame for the situation. So that fear and anger gets turned to whoever we decide must be to blame. After all, this has to be someone’s fault… right? The people who are willing to place all that blame on one cause, one set of policies or one method of behavior scare me. The unstable conditions we face can be traced back to a number of causes… many of them to our own action or inaction, rather than those of others.
Then there’s the people who enjoyed the loss of control, the same people who are gleefully saying “burn it all.” In some ways, these are the most terrifying people. These are those who have either given up hope or never had it in the first place… or else they don’t understand the consequences of their actions. Seeking to pull down entire nations in the hopes that what will rise from the ashes will be better (or at least different), is much like sliding down a hill in a multi-ton vehicle with only a modicum of control. At the end of it, everything might come out alright… or you might end up with a pile of shredded wreckage. Worse, even, are the people who want to throw out all the controls or to hit the gas in the hopes that more of the same will pull us through. (Don’t even get me started on the people who want to light the car on fire because it’s their passenger’s fault they’re in this mess)
What stuck with me, though, was the calm determination on the faces of some of the drivers. They weren’t professional drivers, they didn’t know exactly what to do, but they knew they were in trouble. They fought for control the whole way down… and when they got to the bottom, they had to fight their way through traffic to get to work. They might have felt some or all of the emotions that the other people did… but they focused on doing what they could to make a crappy situation better, and they weren’t crying for attention while they did it.
Those people. We need more of them.