Call Out the Fiddlin'!

Jay Oyster's picture

Fiddlin Bill Henseley, Mountain Fiddler, Asheville, North Carolina by Ben Shahn, 1937. Public Domain. Credit: Shahn/Library of Congress. Modified by Jay Oyster.I've decided I have to start something. Everywhere I look, I see the heights of 20th century civilization slowly fading; eroding into the sea.  The fading middle class. The rise of oligopolies. The power of corporations over the laws of nation states. The fading of idealism. The gridlock of democratic governments. The fiddling. The endless fiddling while real problems are burning our civilization down to ash.

And it's not just in the United States. It's global. Yes, I know, things are still improving in some places. In many places in the world, the last 20 years has seen improvement in the lives of the very poor and the middle class. But that feels like the last bit of momentum of the shining city on the hill. You know . . .the hill that was stormed and overtaken by the Iron Maiden in 1979 and by Reagan in 1980 and later by Putin in 2000. Meanwhile, criminal rule. Honest folk fade. And the biggie . . . we are screwing up the global climate of the only world we can currently live on. And we've lost the sense that we can do anything we set our minds to do. LIke invent solutions, or go to the stars, or feed ourselves without destroying all of nature.

So . . . I'm going to note the most egregious examples of our fiddling. The way we occupy ourselves NOT thinking about the things we need to fix.  The way we anaesthatize ourselves to the pain of watching our civilization slowly fade.  And maybe, also, for the hopeful, note those places where movement is being made in the opposite direction. History isn't simple, usually. It doesn't always move together in one direction. When people seem to genuinely be putting down the fiddles to try to fight the fires, I'll note that, too.

But mostly, it's about the fiddling. The useless blaming of certain groups as the cause of all of our problems (the poor, the gays, the insurgents, the West, the rich countries, the third world, the elites, the 'takers', etc. etc. etc. ad nauseum.) The fight for rights for those groups isn't the fiddling. The wasted time we have to take fighting those fights when we could be addressing problems that threaten our survival . . . THAT is the fiddling.