These are the times that try men’s souls.

–Thomas Paine

It has been a wild and crazy ride, both individually and as a society. And, as I write this, it is just as wild and unforgiving as it has ever been, both in my personal life, and in that of my friends.

In a way, I am actually surprised that our society has not seen an equivalent backlash to that demonstrated in Watts, or Kent State, or in the camps of Jim Jones and Charles Manson. There are many more people affected in the current economic and cultural upheaval than then.

Certainly, countries as a whole have been more internally churned (South Africa during the apartheid demolition, the Soviet Union and Germany during the Wall demolition, Poland during the days of Lech Walensa). I suppose that, in a certain fashion, the very freedoms over-exercised in the aforementioned times have taught many of us that over-exertion of freedom leads to nothing but destruction. We have enough uncertainty without the burning and looting and murder of those times.

I sense a more compassionate outlook from average folks, who toil mightily for crumbs, against all odds and against all the externally imposed economic constraints. At least at a local level, a lot of people are pulling together both organizationally and interpersonally. I am but a small beneficiary of some of that good will.

I also note that the backlash against certain segments of our economic body has given average people a lesson in what political backlash can engender. Our country has fallen victim to the liberalism which that backlash put into place, for good or ill. Given the number of people affected, I think ill prevails.

Of course, as always, things happen for a reason. Lessons are still to be learned and unlearned. These meditations, I hope, cover some of those lessons and perhaps, for some, point to ways to move forward in a positive, less-despairing fashion.

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