by Brad Nelson 4/19/19
This is one of those times where I’m going to ignore the common of advice of “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.” But so much goes left unsaid in our insane culture. And so much that should never be said is amplified by media megaphone. So I’m going to chance it.
I’ve been taking the ferry to Seattle lately to visit my dying older (and only) sister. This isn’t a story about that, per se. If I want your sympathy I’ll ask for it. I do not say that dismissively. I say that matter-of-factly. I’ll let you know when I’m fishing for support. This is not one of those times. I know that all of you out there have problems you are struggling with. Often the tank runs dry and there isn’t much left to offer true sympathy for others. Been there, done that.
There isn’t much to say other than that modern science, despite its boasting, is still pretty primitive in what it can do. And although you cut the dying all the slack in the world, I can’t helping thinking that this whole experience isn’t made the worse by a total lack of religious faith (or at least any mention of it). Doubting Thomas that I am, I still pray for my sister. But the secular-Progressive world is a cold one even if populated by some great people.
Coming off the Washington State Ferry into Seattle, the traffic crawls for at least a couple of miles. And you therefore have plenty of time to glimpse in detail the ragged tent detritus of the “homeless” scattered upon the sidewalks and in between the giant concrete four-lane freeways and ramps. A patch of green amongst the gray monsters is a beacon for the “homeless.” Most of them are packed with tents and a penumbra of garbage.
Modern skyscrapers directly at the edge of these wastelands look down on this mix of high civilization and the Left’s manufactured third world. These are all people who need to be in lock-down facilities where their drug, alcohol, and mental problems can be properly treated. Instead, they are treated as puppets for the Progressives. They are a supposed sign of their great compassion. And they are also a useful knock on capitalism. I think they function in both regards. But how any supposedly civilized human being can endorse this situation, for whatever reason, is appalling.
So to enter Seattle is to enter this bizarre world. I noted on the skyline while standing at the front of the ferry on the way in that there are no less than seven skyscrapers under construction. The town is booming. And yet there is a cold barbarity to it all. In some places you have the height of inventive architecture, such as The Amazon Spheres. Pioneer Square (just off the ferry and to the right a bit) is an exquisite enclave of shops and pedestrian-friendly spaces and architecture. But this is also where you will find an entire block marred by people claiming the sidewalk with tents and cardboard boxes.
Schizophrenic comes to mind. With the burning of Notre Dame in recent memory, one knows that these modern progressive structures and ideas are meant to uplift in their own way. But it all seems so superficial. There is no object beyond them that they point to. With Notre Dame, one can criticize the ornateness and expense, but the structure itself was never meant to be the end object of veneration. It was instead a signpost to the Object which is to be venerated.
There is talk of “death with dignity.” And, as I understand it, it has always been a behind-the-scenes option between patient and doctor in mortal cases to take care of what needs to be taken care of. I have no beef with that. But these euphemisms are monstrously deceptive. I see no dignity in raising these euphemisms to secular idols.
Facing death, if not yet one’s own, is always a reminder that our time on this earth is not infinite. What bothers me about all this is not the sad ending of a once productive life. My sister was going to get married and to a very nice guy. That’s a shame. My sister is not easy to live with but this guy seems to have meshed well and seems to be a truly good soul. I think what bothers me is the incongruity of a mostly secular death. There’s no context to it. There’s nothing to say about it.
At one point my sister a few days ago noted that she didn’t want to be visited by so-and-so because she was “too religious.” One of her daughters can be a bit psychotic at times. The other is cold and controlling. By the bedside, I did and said what I could, or what I thought I should. But there is to be no Touched By An Angel moment. It’s just a somewhat cold, impersonal going.
In a cold, impersonal city that imagines that it is otherwise as garbage piles up in and around its ad hoc tent cities. It’s not quite as feces-filled as San Francisco yet. But it’s getting there. I honestly don’t know why there is a building boom in Seattle. Who would want to live there when there are so many other better options? Taxes are high. Traffic is a nightmare (arguably the worst in the Western World). But the tech companies are so flush right now, money talks and garbage-strewn streets aren’t apparently making anyone walk.
Through all this, I realized how important having good relationships with a few select people is. To banish the noise and allow in the good, the sacred, the true, and the beautiful. Most people are crazy. The world is alight in nuttiness. What pretends at warmth is often cool to the touch. Take care of your own. Re-evaluate what you think is important. Enjoy what the world has to offer, but beware of the cold hand behind so many things. I’ve said too much, I know.
Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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