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Posts published in “Day: April 12, 2022”

A loss of permanence

rainey

A friend and I were lunching the other day, talking about this and that as friends will do. Discussions on any topic were fair game.

One such was when he asked what was on my mind and I said “The lack of permanence.” I blurted it out. Then I expounded on it a bit before giving it much serious thought. But, I gave it a lot of thought driving home. And since.

“The lack of permanence.” That’s it!

For several years - and to this moment - I’ve felt anxieties, anger, a tendency to worry more about conditions and just a general unease. At first, I thought all these emotions - and more - were part of the aging process. After all, I’ve never been four-score-and-five before. And we aren’t born with a book of instructions to refer to as we go.

For nearly all my life, there’s been a sense of permanence, normalcy and order in nearly everything. Through all the troubles of this nation, we’ve survived, our living conditions have normalized and our institutions stood firm. Changes occurred and we readjusted. Returned to normal.

No longer, it seems! It just keeps changing and causing - for many of us - a sense of impermanence.

Take the USPS. You know, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor dark of night....” Permanence? Not under Louis DeJoy! Maybe the President can’t directly fire this guy who’s tearing our mail service apart. But, he can damn well fire the Board of Directors who keep the bastard in the job. Permanence? No!

Take public schools. Business as usual? Not since COVID, masks and “critical race theory.” Just consider the scholastic “wars” going on between school boards and angry parents nationwide. Some actual brawls over subject matter or vaccinations or just about anything. Good, experienced citizens quitting Boards because of unfounded personal attacks. Definitely not permanence or the historic calm we’re used to.

Been shopping or dining out recently? Permanence? We tried to have breakfast out at a very popular breakfast joint the other day. We were told we could be seated immediately but not served for 45 minutes to an hour! “Staff shortage in the kitchen,” we were told.

Tried to drop off the family pup for a bath. Noted line from the back wall of the store to the single checkout. Poor management or staff shortage? Really doesn’t matter. That’s the “usual” in stores and other service business these days.

Church? Permanence? Ours didn’t meet in the sanctuary for months. Used the I-net. Now, meeting in person but masks highly recommended. No social time following services. Is that the church you remember all these years?

Car buying? Is it “business as usual” at the dealership. Not now. Inventory down to 10-12 new cars - or less - on the lot. Prices at sticker. Or above. Shopping for cars online is the big thing. But, even there, sold-out or greatly reduced inventory. Chip shortage. Some dealerships closing. Try making a shop appointment. A week or two out.

Grocery stores. Same old shopping experience? Hardly. Many shelves empty. Short inventory. Fewer check-out stands open.

Personal banking? Some have closed lobbies. Others allow only two or three customers if lobby is open. Staffing levels cut. Branches with four or five employees. In some, no loan officers. Business as usual?

Congress? Effective? NO! The political parties are so divided little is done while needs of citizens go unmet. Poll after poll shows where the nation is on urgent issues - jobs, infrastructure, foreign affairs - even abortion. But, none seem to matter to congressional leaders, as they ignore the will of voters who sent them to the Potomac shore.

Sense of permanence in government? Again, hardly. We’re running month-to-month paying the bills with a total national shutdown looming over our heads every day. We’ve got a national political party hellbent on stopping any important legislation. Fractures in governance have made Congress nearly useless.

A new national budget, tailored to our needs, hasn’t been devised in many years. Pentagon spending so bloated even the military can’t conduct a complete - much less accurate - audit for hundreds of billions of dollars spent each year. Spending completely out of control. And, for the first time in my long life, our military has lost the last two wars. Wars lost to people with no air force, no navy, no up-to-date military equipment. Yet, we spend some 800-billion-dollars a year on “defense.”

Government has lost touch with the people. At some state and local levels as well. The postal service is a mess with higher prices and poorer services. Our national treasury is running nearly on empty. Civic continuity and comity are gone in many instances. Institutions we’ve valued for generations are being challenged as never before and some have been rendered nearly ineffective.

Our world is unsteady in ways we’ve never known. If you, too, are searching for permanence and find it, please let me know.