On a warm and late afternoon, Jeter and I ran up the yellow brick road. We had already done our lap around the community gardens, the meadow and dog park, and were now on our way home again. Jeter had “thanked“ me for not letting him swim by finding something utterly captivating, (and more than likely disgusting) in the field, which held his attention so fiercely that I had to double back to retrieve my retriever adding an additional 1/3 of a mile to our run. Dogs can be so gross.
The sun had not yet set in what was an oddly washed out sky and the air was heavy with humidity. I looked ahead, up the hill we were in the midst of climbing, and noticed two turkeys a microsecond before Jeter caught sight of them. It was just enough time for me to brace myself for his inevitable yank in their direction. Disaster averted.
But, like deer crossing a road, there were more to come. This time, though, we were within 30 or so feet of a half dozen turkeys. When they saw Jeter, their haste to escape him was almost comical. While the birds remained essentially soundless, the furious beating of their wings revealed their terror as they hastily fled. I restrained my dog and watched the turkeys take to the air and disappear into the ravine. Gone.
I thought about the myth of turkeys being flightless birds and the corresponding legend of Benjamin Franklin proposing the bird to be our national symbol. While it’s a little sad to think that both of these long held beliefs are false, my sorrow to learn these truths pales in comparison to the sadness I feel at the general state of our government and the conduct of our elected representatives. Believe me, that state of our democracy is a disaster far exceeding the situation of the poor misunderstood turkey.
If you’re not worried about the way our elected officials are conducting themselves, you’re not paying attention. It isn’t merely party loyalty or traditional politics as usual, instead it is governing out of spite instead of interest in what’s best for our country. The hypocrisy, the lies, the dog whistles and the purposeful agitation of a portion of the population to help an incumbent remain in office combine to place the future of this country in peril. I’m honestly and truly scared about what might be coming next.
Do you remember the last presidential election? The campaign promises about making our country great again, how we would be taking care of our own population instead of acting as the world’s safety net and would provide a new and better health plan to our citizens. Have you honestly seen any of that occur? The great country we were promised is in reality a poorly managed, corrupt and morally bankrupt dumpster fire. Take the president’s “response” to scientific data about the worst global pandemic in a century – we have more Covid deaths, by far, than any other country in the world. Even those “shit hole“ ones.
While the economy certainly had been humming along prior to the pandemic, I’m afraid I don’t see how the booming economy helped the average citizen – or even the most needy, as would be my personal priority if I were a politician. If our economy was doing so well, why aren’t there resources available to help people?
Think about the tragic state of our schools, particularly in urban districts. How can school districts possibly adapt to all the new requirements and protocols without an additional infusion of funding? What kind of permanent damage are we doing to disadvantaged students, children we’ve come to know rely upon their schools for meals, shelter, health care, technology and education? How are they ever going to catch up to their suburban peers?
Why hasn’t our successful government provided financial assistance to families beyond that one payment in the early spring? Other countries have provided much more support, in every way imaginable, to their people than our great country has during this crisis.
Restaurants and other small, independent businesses are disappearing. Their responsibilities too great and their income too small to justify the struggle to keep themselves afloat. It is a crisis that will permanently change our future food and retail world in a way similar to how the AIDS epidemic altered the landscape of the arts community in the late 80s and early 90s. Trust me.
So, if we’re not benefitting from the greatness of the country, despite the assurances that our government was motivated to take care of citizens, who is? The billionaires, it seems. The pandemic has been very good to them and their shareholders. Hmmm, do you think Proud Boys are holding tons of Amazon stock?
I’ve read quite a few dystopian novels and it feels like we are closer to living in a world such as Gilead or Panem than we’ve ever been before. On days when the sky is muffled grey and turkeys clumsily take to the air, I miss my more youthful innocence and the days when I believed in patriotic stories about a Founding Father and an ungainly bird.
And in my government.