Midnight Pub

Interesting Times

~nsilvestri

Hey, ~bartender. I'm down with COVID, so can I get a hot cup of NyQuil? Do you serve that here? I promise to not breathe on you.

The old proverb "may you live in interesting times" has been going through my mind for the past couple years, and more often in the past few months. Between pandemics, historic economic crashes, bull runs, and crashes again, war, climate change, record breaking weather, the ever encroaching threat of climate change, and the general apparent downward spiral of American society in general, it's hard to find anything to be optimistic about.

Billy Joel wrote "We Didn't Start the Fire" in 1989 after a 21-year-old told him that "it's a terrible time to be 21." By the time Billy Joel was 40 he had the Korean War, Vietnam War, and the Suez Crisis. Society was going through its own changes with civil rights movements. Many countries defaulted on foreign debts and AIDS became a deadly specter.

I'm hardly older than 23. Too young to be a doomer. Sure, there's only a third of the people in extreme poverty since I was born (a *billion* people, specifically), and infant mortality has been halved during my life, but still, look at all the bad news! It's hard to not see the world as a mean, unforgiving place.

Yet the fire's been burning since the world's been turning, and I'm still here.


rusty

I am not American, but my country has been going through some rough "historical times" itself, and at the moment I have no shred of patriotism left in me, my government would probably want me jailed for multiple things (little, petty, freedom-of-speech-non-existent things, nothing actually criminal) if someone so small and insignificant as me ever caught their attention, and the future is so uncertain that I honestly have no idea what I'm even trying to move forward for. The fact that I can be out of work practically any moment now (and what I do have barely pays my bills check to check) doesn't instill much confidence either.

But I do keep moving anyway, 'cause I'm too stubborn and also I have to believe that things will get better. Much like you, I'm way too young to be a doomer, and after every down there has to be an up eventually. Just gotta hold on.

Sorry to dump all that on you, I guess it's just my way of saying "Hey, can relate! You're not alone!". Your next drink is on me.

And for the record, while yes, the world is kinda mean, and we humans are capable of some horrible things, we're also undoubtedly capable of so much good. Those people running community help organizations, protesters trying to make change despite the risks, soldiers refusing to fight unjust wars and deserting, volunteers helping old folks and animals, little acts of kindness, etc. It's hard to be kind and hopeful and selfless when the world is burning, but a lot of people still choose to be so. That has to be worth something. I have to value them more than a bunch of those powerful of this world, even if their impacts are... often tragically different.

Everything changes so fast, no one can tell where we'll be in thirty years even. Let's believe it'll be a kinder world somehow and may we be strong to do everything in our power to get there.

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wporr

Tough to see so many strangers so sad about the world around them. I’ve been traveling around Europe for a while, and even though Americans have a bad reputation over seas, paradoxically we’re still seen as the place where everything worth a damn happens in the western world. We have so many crazy things happening and opportunities, many that we don’t take enough advantage of, and a big part of that is the pessimism that has become endemic in our culture. Nothing has made me more patriotic than going over seas, but mostly it’s a desire to take better advantage of these freedoms to create something wonderful. I think people just need a bit more hope.

“Bartender, two manhattans please”

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