Reflections on the Future

I never had a child of my own, so naturally, I will never have grandchildren. But I have worked with many, many children over the years. For a time, I worked in the Zero to Three Nursery at the Lexington Center in New York. We helped hearing families with deaf children, deaf parents with hearing children and deaf families with deaf children.

Some of these cases were quite challenging. In certain instances, we were overjoyed with the progress our families were able to make. Most of these folks could not afford private services. Medicaid was our source of payment. Eventually, the funding was cut. They said the program was too expensive to run. There is no longer any soft place for these families to land.

A young friend discovered that her young son has muscular dystrophy and other related disorders. There are not appropriate services for this child in New Mexico. They must travel up to Denver for medical care. The CHIP program has funded all of their expenses. These hard-working parents were in limbo when they did not know if CHIP would be refunded. They lived in fear. Fortunately, they will be able to continue his medical care for now. Who knows about the future?

Reconciling my core beliefs

In the 1960s the war in Vietnam shook my core beliefs. I realized that I have not believed much in government since then. Recently, seeing the film, “The Post,” brought these feelings back to me. Up until the sixties, I thought only OTHER governments lied to their people. Only OTHER governments sold out to the highest bidder. Because coming to the United States saved my father’s life, he was patriotic. As I got older though, I watched his patriotism suffer several blows. Sometimes I do think, I’m glad that he has not lived to see where we stand today. It is also strange to say that I am glad now that I do not have children or grandchildren whose futures might prove to be less hopeful than my own.

A Turkish friend used to tell me, “You are so lucky to be born and living in America. My government is a mess. These greedy people are ruining any chance of democracy.” Now I could be saying all but the “you are lucky” part of this to her. We seem to be following in the footsteps of Turkey. I have to wonder what this adorable and innocent child I am holding might be facing in his future.

Yes, I was absolutely fortunate to be born here, but I would not be here if not for my father’s escape from Russia. Why should Africans or Syrians or Palestinians be any different? Yes, I include Palestinians, as the irony of their current situation is not lost on me as an American Jew and as a supporter of a reasonable Israel.

I worry about what the future of so many children will be, born and raised in various internment camps around the world. Is our president so narcissistic that he does not care about the world his children and grandchildren will occupy? Why does he admire Putin, Netanyahu and Erdogan? Are these leaders the ones the children of our future will admire? Raised without hope, without education, without opportunity, ISIS might be defeated, but vulnerable children will be ushered into some other organization equally destructive or worse. We have seen this already around the world.

Some folks would pooh-pooh me and say, this world has always been a difficult place. There are constant struggles and wars, and people are always being raped, murdered, starved and tortured. There is nothing new here. And maybe they are correct. We came to this country, massacred the natives and held them as slaves. Then we imported more slaves when we did not have enough.

Merely mortal

We are mere mortals. I used to say, I’m an American, proudly. But I am a mere mortal. The country in which I have lived, for the most part pretty well, has made its way on the backs of people of color. Yes, we have had a black president, and that was so threatening to the image of a white America, that we about-faced and here we are today.

A black friend warned me of this. I thought she was pessimistic, but she was right. I was innocently ecstatic for several weeks before becoming terrified that President Obama would be assassinated. All the humility, grace, intelligence and sense of what being an American means has abandoned the White House. My Turkish friend could look at me today and say, OK, your government is as stupid as mine.

Searching for my country

When we invaded Iraq, I thought I might move. But when I began to seriously look, I could find no place that I could say was better. Becoming a grown-up involves a certain degree of practicality that I did not have in my youth. When I left New York and moved to New Mexico in my early 50s, I had no idea how difficult that move would prove to be. From the Upper West Side of Manhattan to Placitas, New Mexico was a bit akin to leaving the country—but not the same thing. Now quite settled here, I think I would never like to leave this beautiful corner of the earth. But suppose I have to?

Even though at this point in time, I am not as confident as I used to be that my words will not come back to bite me, I still write the words. I believe in freedom of the press, and I believe in freedom of speech. I’d rather have these freedoms, even when I do not like what I am hearing or reading. My father never lost his fears about losing his freedoms, and ranted and raved during the McCarthy era, always needing his newspaper, as if fleeing the country was even an option he considered at that point.

History has recorded the fall of all great empires. Hopefully, optimistically, history will not record the fall of the United States of America. But I do not say this with any degree of certainty. Checks and balances only work if they are exercised.

Will I, as one of the wandering Jews, end up fleeing yet again? Is there anywhere to run? My Israeli cousin says, “Come to Israel.” But why would I ever want to go there? I want peace and quiet in my old age. I am too old to run to a war zone. The truth is, I am too old to run anywhere.

For whatever good or bad will come of it, I am an American. And I can now understand why so many German Jews stayed put. One loses the little freedoms at first, and then one thinks, “I can live with this. It’s really not so bad.”

But perhaps it is that bad when a man leaves his house to go to his work in the morning and ends up in a detention center, to be deported momentarily. Or maybe it isn’t the same thing. Or perhaps it can become the same thing. Or maybe it is the same thing already. I only know that I feel lucky to be old and lucky to not have children, and I find that extremely sad.

The last survivor

blog26-dungAnd back to the dung beetle, one of my favorite creatures, she may be the only survivor able to protect her young with all of the feces left on this planet to roll them around in.

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