Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Yesterday, in the mid-morning, over our neighborhood, a police helicopter circled with a kind of languorous insistence.


I called across the street to my neighbor, Joe, asking him facetiously if he had robbed a bank. No, he replied, but the police were looking for a fellow who had fled on foot and was supposed to be in our neighborhood. The 26-year-old man took off when authorities attempted to serve him with a warrant on charges of  kidnapping, assault to rape, witness intimidation, violation of an abuse prevention order and threatening to commit a crime according to today's newspaper account. He was later apprehended in a neighboring community. But in the meantime, my neighborhood seemed to fill with the hunt for a latter-day Osama bin Laden.

Looking through the news wires today, I realized that I no longer have the energy for articles premised on what 'may' or 'might' or 'could' happen. The Republican tussles to become the 2012 presidential contender are a case in point. Setting aside the vacuous jeering that each pretender levels at his or her opponents, each talks about what 'may' happen or 'might' happen or 'could' happen when s/he becomes president. None of them has the nerve to take a principled stand -- that might alienate a block of potential voters -- so there is just a river of well-groomed and sincere eyewash. May, might, could ....

How much of any conversation or speculation or social hand-wringing is premised in this way -- may, might, could? It's good to plan ahead, of course, but when expectation-laced planning rolls over or replaces fact like some self-important tsunami ... well, how useful is that? Maybe it's pretty useful, but when reading the news, I try to skip it: Too much energy for too little verifiable return.

True, I don't mind a bit of imagining, as for example imagining what it must be like to live in North Korea, where, according to a defector on the TV last night, those who failed to publicly weep in the wake of the weekend death of strongman Kim Jong Il could be setting themselves up for the accusation that they were not patriotic enough ... and if they were not patriotic enough, they must, ipso facto, be a danger to the dictatorial state and if they were a danger to the state, the best place for them might be behind bars. The same country that starved its people and created nuclear weapons the U.S. and others never tire of speculating about ... that same country insists on emotional conformity? Stupidity and intelligence ... two peas in a single pod.

And then there's the matter of "God" -- a matter serious enough to inspire at least three comic novels. I guess "God" is like "sex" -- just say the word and you will always gather a crowd and assure an income stream. I find it interesting that, in hard times, someone would still be bothering about "God," even in a humorous way. "God" is a luxury item in anyone's life and with unemployment hovering around nine percent, these are not luxury times. I guess times are not yet hard enough to dispel the may-might-could sort of hope. Believers or atheists -- same thing ... money for groceries.

Today, I will try to spend five minutes without relying on may-might-could. Who knows, perhaps it could become a habit. :)

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