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The Age of Absurdities and Atrocities

I’ve started pieces, several, abandoning each, feeling whiplashed.

I go to Microsoft Word, click Open Recent, then click New Document. I consider combining the paragraphs, and then think maybe it’s time to stop writing.

I began one, quoting Voltaire, referenced the Age of Enlightenment, saying: Today’s darkness is in stark contradistinction to the wisdom of Voltaire who said, among many “brainy” observations: “It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.” After these words, I keyboarded more Voltaire for possible use. “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

Absurdities and Atrocities. We are living in the Age of Absurdities and Atrocities.

I started an article with a quote from the sheriff of Great Mills, MD, location of the latest school shooting: “On this day, we realize our worst nightmare, that our greatest asset, our children, were attacked in one of our places, a bastion of safety and security, one of our schools.”

Our schools, a bastion of safety and security? Where has this guy been? Isn’t he aware of the drills? According to the National Center for Education Statistics, “nine out of ten public schools now drill students and teachers to respond to mass shootings.”

At this precise moment, there could be a school shooting in progress. Excuse me a sec, I’m going to check online news. No, there isn’t one yet today. (Still time though.) There was, however, a

shooting yesterday. Police shot a young black man 20 times who was in his own yard. They thought his iPhone was a gun. “The officers fired 20 times at Clark and he was hit multiple times… Officers then handcuffed Clark and began life-saving efforts, according to police.” So, they fired 20 shots, then handcuffed him, THEN tried to save him. The Age of Absurdities and Atrocities.

I began working on an article to mark the 15-year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq and linked to a Pew report that Americans are divided almost equally over this war—this crime. Lies led US troops, and the willing and coerced from other countries, to battle. George Bush said God directed him, told him to “end the tyranny in Iraq.”

This is the Age of Absurdities and atrocities.

Still another essay began with my telling you I’d watched a Netflix original about Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber. After the series ended, I read portions of his manifesto. Recently, my dear friend G and I were emailing about the Austin bombings. I mentioned the Unabomber and she sent this link to an article about a professor, David Skrbina, who corresponds with Kaczynski. Obviously, Skrbina doesn’t endorse the means by which Kaczynski advanced his message, however he believes Kaczynski was correct: “In a sense he had this larger cause, which is a noble cause. If it turns out to be true that there is this vital threat to the planet or to humanity, there’ll be no doubt that Kaczynski was right, that the technological system is a kind of mortal threat.”

My mind exploded with ideas—the path of technology—which we perceive as progress, some genius’s concept that he or she can, and then does, develop an invention that makes life less complicated. Say the word processor or computer vs a typewriter. I certainly recall pecking away, making a mistake. No delete, delete, delete or moving paragraphs. Just BIC Wite-Out. Yet technology has that terrifyingly dangerous downside, the most frightening of which is ecocide.

I Googled how long it will take Earth to recover from global climate change. Some geologists predict 100,000 years. I picture someone or some Thing excavating, finding remnants, writings, a CD, a military drone. Help me here. What might be buried beneath soil and water that would generate a name for this particular Age that’s more appropriate than the Age of Absurdities and Atrocities? The Age of Hatred? The Age of Annihilation?

I’m going with the Age of Absurdities and Atrocities.

Dotard-in-Chief has tweeted a juvenile response to Joe Biden’s equally juvenile comment about Trump and the president’s hands-on approach to females. Biden was speaking at an anti-sexual assault rally and when asked if he’d be interested in debating Trump, he said, “If we were in high school, I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him.” This may be Biden’s official announcement that he’s challenging Trump for the 2020 title.

If they’re still alive. If anyone is.

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Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

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