Sunday, May 13, 2007

Independence Day, 2007

(July 5, 2007)

The local American Legion post held a fireworks display for everyone who's stuck in Duarte getting treatment at City of Hope. They set everything up in Irwindale and the guys who did the display basically figured out that if you target everything to blow up high above the intersection of the 605 and the 210, that the folks here would see it if they got to a place where you could see the sky.

The display was basically theme park quality. Like something you'd see at Disneyland or Magic Mountain or Knotts Berry Farm or something like that. No choreographed music, just a whole lot of beautiful fireworks going off. I started crying and didn't stop until just now, 5 hours later.

Why was I so melancholy? Why all the waterworks?

Because I was in America, celebrating the 4th of July, and I knew that this was not really America anymore. Arguably it hadn't been since the day the Senate confirmed George W. Bush's (s)election as President. But ever since the big oil crisis the wheels had come completely off the cart.

In a way, being in Duarte, deep in Suburbia, almost in freaking Mayberry RFD for all intents and purposes, we are sort of buffered from a lot of the things that have been going on now. The doctors, nurses and everyone else here have a sense of mission. I keep reading on the blogs about the need to find community. At least in our situation we have a ready-made community. They say that the day after you are diagnosed with cancer you're a survivor. This is a community of cancer survivors and cancer caregivers. We had our own shock before the current "oil shock." In a way, we all had a jump on things.

Weird: the Shul (Jewish synagogue) on the campus here is busy almost 24/7. It's not just used by Jews now, but is parceled out as a place of worship for all the Abrahamic faiths. A Priest comes by daily to hear confessions and say Mass. There are something like 20 Protestant congregations who have prayer services there now. And there are 3 Jewish services: a Conservative Jewish service, a Chabad service, and a Reform service. There's also a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Brother Thanh, who teaches Mindfulness meditation in the Japanese garden. And even the Pagans get their equal time: a robed circle is being organized for full moons in the Rose Garden. It seems like the tendency for people to get more religious in times of health crisis is only amplified by the energy crisis.

Me? It's very strange. I have to cling to my non-belief. It's the old problem: is Whoever's In Charge Up There almighty or all-good? Or is there no-one in charge, or is the One Who Set Things In Motion off to other, more important things now? I like the "nobody's in charge" option because in the other options God is either impotent to help Creation, or S/He is just a big monumental asshole who doesn't want to help.

Will this be the last Independence Day? I can't see America, or for that matter any other country, surviving a year under these circumstances.

Whatever happens, we'll ride it out together. Richie and I. That's a comfort, at least.

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