I consider myself one of the luckiest people on the planet. Far more lucky than ambitious or knowledgeable. Far, far, far more lucky than smart. This is likely the result of being white, of male gender, a tad over-educated — all allowing me to skate past or around my several character flaws and numerous not-so-intelligent life choices.
And being an American – born or legalized — of course makes anyone much luckier than the vast majority of those who people the globe (an assessment very much modified these days, given our 500,000-plus-and-counting COVID-19 deaths).
But in several ways, Americans recently have had an incredible run of good luck, which we better not depend on, because so often so razor thin.
This first struck me as I watched news of the horrendous auto accident that Tiger Woods had, apparently driving too fast on a dangerous roadway, rolling over multiple times, missing several trees and ending up in a ditch . . . and yet surviving.
Yes, multiple injuries likely to end his golfing career, but absolutely lucky to be alive.
And there was that blown engine of a Boeing airliner, the pilots able to turn back and land the plane, all safe and sound, the multiple pieces of engine falling on to homes and athletic fields, providing a whole bunch of interesting memorabilia but no injuries.
And how about Texas? Yes, it was hit with a cataclysmic winter storm, but we’re told that some quick thinking (we don’t know exactly what or by whom), averted a months-long blackout across the entire state.
Then there was January 6, a crazed mob attacking the Capitol, a good bit of destruction and a half-dozen lives lost. And one can’t help but imagine how much, much worse this could have been, given the weaponry available on both sides – the rioters with loaded guns, clubs and other types of battering rams (hey, why not an American flag too?), the police and National Guard with a whole deadly arsenal available to them.
Overall, the avoidance of massacre – even the possibility of congress people being captured and killed — will be studied, analyzed and investigated for years but may have just been a matter of incredible chance. As the country’s constitutional liberties were put on the very brink, a variety of small decisions were made and greater loss of life just narrowly avoided.
Apparently topping all of these was the recent national election and its results.
About this it’s easy to think that the many wins by Democrats were mostly a matter of luck, given the extremely narrow victories – a mere 10,000 or so of deciding votes in key battleground states — thus establishing the paper-thin majority in the Senate and winning the presidency.
But that wasn’t at all a matter of luck; it was the product of very hard work by Democrats, outworking the hard work put in by Republicans. So now we are not just lucky but incredibly fortunate to have the current ability by Democrats to take significant action for this country, to break through the political “nope-won’t-happen” characterizing the recent history of the Senate and the past four years of presidential ineptitude.
Yes, we’ve recently had some good luck – but we better not think that luck will be there to help us fend off more attacks on the Constitution, on democracy, on voter rights. Nor are these things God-given, whatever our “trust” may be.
It has been the result of having an educated population that believes it is more important for all of us to have a say in our leadership, our programs and policies, than to cede that power to one person.
Tyrannical rule is of course embedded in our planetary history — from kings and queens to modern tyrants and autocrats — and will keep resurfacing, never to disappear entirely.
As the past four years so obviously demonstrates, vast numbers of human beings can be hypnotized into believing that just one lone individual can best tell them how to live their lives, what to believe, and what they should consider as fact, however obviously non-factual.
Of course, that way is so much easier, isn’t it? Isn’t it? — to let that single individual tell you what to think and what to do, because then you don’t have to think and do for yourself, not be responsible . . . just follow.
Well, we better teach our kids and grand-kids concerning the constant struggle they absolutely must take on to support, defend and hold on to democracy.
Because it’s pretty damn certain that someone will come and try to take it away from them.