Maybe it’s the heat - several days of 117-degrees on our Arizona back porch - maybe it’s the age - more than four score - maybe it’s just life.
In a quiet moment this week, I’ve been thinking about stability in that life. No, it’s more like trying to find stability in our world. Still, more than that, it’s a search for honesty, integrity, accepting responsibility, personal values and the sort of continuity of life as we’ve known it.
Honesty and integrity. Can those be ascribed to many of the members of our national Congress? Not to my thinking. The political give-and-take of past years is gone. The comity. The collegiality. The overall desire to work together for the common good.
Day after day, we see members lying in public statements. And they know they’re lying. They know it! But, that doesn’t seem to matter to them. The January attack on the nation’s capitol. Pictures of the violence, the weapons, the Trump flags, members of Congress running for their lives. All of that is ingrained in our minds. We’ve seen it - witnessed it - been shocked and saddened by it.
But, still, with all that, we daily hear mostly Republican members saying it didn’t happen - nobody died - there was no theat - there was no personal danger. They look at the camera. And lie. Just plain, damned lies!
One political party has completely divorced itself from the duties of office by declaring none of the opposing party’s legislation efforts will be passed. None. Vital, necessary legislation is dying because one party refuses to accept the responsibilities of the oath each member has taken. Before we constituents. And the final words of that oath - “... so help me, God.”
Many communities are grappling with law-and-order issues. Americans - Black Americans - are dying in our streets at the hands of law enforcement out-of-control. We’re witnessing destruction, vandalism, killings on those same streets. In our community a week ago, a guy drove on several of our streets, firing randomly at cars and pedestrians. The tally - after a long chase - one dead and 12 injured.
Even our schools are under attack. State legislatures are creating laws to control school curriculums - bypassing traditional local control. We create a national holiday in remembrance of the end of slavery while - at the same time - we have people trying to stop our schools from teaching the truth about that same slavery. More instability.
Millions of people in this country have no access to health care - to housing - to vital services that should be the right of every American. The concrete sidewalks and alleys of our nation’s streets are the “beds” on which thousands upon thousands sleep each night. When extreme heat or cold keep most of us inside, they live with the elements day and night. Their very suffering causes instability in our society.
Our international relationships with many nations are unstable. Our interdependence on others for many of our needs makes us vulnerable to whatever the political “climate” is currently somewhere else. Our requirements in the marketplace rise and fall at the whims of other nations - even dictators. Access or denial can change quickly, causing instability.
Many of our financial institutions are under attack. Cyber attack. Even business, education and most forms of commerce are openly vulnerable to criminal, international hackers who can bring them to their knees with computer systems used as weapons. The dangers may come from a sophisticated foreign intelligence operation or some teen in a basement bedroom in Portland. How vulnerable is our national power grid?
Even traditional climate and the seasons are unstable. Global warming? Yes. The parched landscape of the American West lies before us - ample evidence alone of the instability that can do heavy damage to our economy.
Whether its coral reefs in the Southern oceans or rapidly dissolving ice caps threatening the world’s shoreline - evidence is everywhere. Coastal cities at home and abroad are threatened. We’re seeing islands off the Louisiana coastline disappearing, forcing residents to move inland.
Religion. Almost always in a state of flux. Last week saw Southern Baptists elect a moderate as president. We also saw the hierarchy of the American branch of the Catholic Church begin proceedings to deny the rite of communion to adult Catholics approving of abortion - even an American President because of his public acceptance of the practice, despite his personal disapproval.
Also in religion, new polling showing less than 25% of Americans identify with a specific religion. The number keeps going down. At the same time, attendance at one religious “service” or another is creeping up. Stability? No. And, it’s possible, the definition of “church” may be changing as well.
Housing? Another basic “need.” The markets - regardless of where you live - have gone crazy, pricing many people out. So called “moderate income housing” is just plain gone. Many of those markets are in a housing “bubble.” When it breaks, even more people will be hurt by conditions.
Economics, politics, commerce, religion, housing, education. You name it. We’re a nation - a world - of instability. For those of us used to a stable environment in our lives, it can be a difficult time. Sure, change is constant and inevitable. But, given Covid and other recent calamities, change seems to have accelerated and, with it, more unstable conditions with which to contend. More pressures to adjust - to accept - to change. More demands on us causing more upset in our lives.
Stability and daily comfort are in short supply these days. And, as individuals, even as a whole society, we are unable to calm daily conditions. We’re swept along in the societal currents.
A search for stability seems to be “a fool’s errand.”