SYW: On the Greater Good, Ferris Wheels, Violins & Trumpets

Melanie has a new set of questions today for her Share Your World challenge.

QUESTIONS

A mixed bag today

What do you think of the idea of the ‘greater good’ principle?
I think it is central for a just and equal society. Although we have “freedom” that doesn’t mean we can – or should – do whatever we want to. This is one of my major concerns about American society, that people confuse freedom and individuality. We have gotten so selfish and blame others – mostly the downtrodden – for our own inability to get ahead in life. There are things that living in a society compels one to do – to behave responsibility and with caring for others, whether or not those people are part of your family or social circle. Mask wearing during the pandemic was for the greater good. Some individuals would be inconvenienced by it, but overall, society will benefit – indeed, has benefited by the mask mandate.

Do you enjoy riding a roller coaster or other amusement park type ride?
I’m a wimp – the Ferris wheel is as daring as I get. Many cities have these gigantic Ferris wheels nowadays; I guess they provide riders a good view from the top. London, Sydney – probably many more – saw how successful it was in the city where it was invented – Chicago!

Which musical instrument is the most annoying to you personally?
There isn’t a particular instrument – it’s more the way that the instrument is played. I mean this in two ways: If the person playing the instrument isn’t very good or doesn’t have the “musicality” to play it, and the type of music or piece that is being played.

In the first instance, I would say violin or really any stringed instrument. If the person playing it isn’t very good, it sounds horrible. But I suppose that could be said about any instrument. In orchestras, there are a lot of violins – the stringed instruments are the most noticeable because the strings moat often carry the melody. I’ve been to concerts with a violin section that isn’t very good, and, in some pieces especially, it is really cringeworthy.

I have seen violins played in a variety of ways and in various types of music, and if the musician is good, it sounds fantastic. I think, however, that the violin is one of the most difficult instruments to learn well. I’m not just talking about classical music – I love ‘fiddling” and most of the fiddlers I’ve heard are real professional.

I have an eclectic taste in music; there are few genres I don’t like in general. I like jazz, but there are certain kinds of jazz that I don’t like, like when the piece gets very long with a lot of ad libbing and showcasing one instrument with lengthy solos. In these cases, it is usually the trumpet that I don’t like, because it can get very “screechy” when the musician is experimenting with it.

Would you rather have a vivid imagination or a photographic memory if you had to choose just one?
I already have a vivid imagination, but I have always envied people with a “photographic memory.” My memory has always been bad, but it’s deteriorating even more now that I’m getting older. So I guess I would like to have a good memory – it would have helped a lot during my working years, and maybe twenty years from now would help me stave off dementia!


GRATITUDE SECTION (always optional)

Feel free to share fun plans for this season that you might have.   Especially now that many places are lifting restrictions and travel is a bit easier.
I had hoped to go abroad before the end of this year, but due to my husband’s health issues, we can’t make any firm plans, so we are planning a road trip to the Northeast in October. We may cross into Canada if we have our passports by that time.

SYW: A Depressed Dreamer Makes Someone Cry

Here are Melanie’s Share Your World Questions this week and my responses.

QUESTIONS

Would you rather be a super nice person and be depressed all your life, or be happy and a total *sshole?  (Credit goes to Cyranny for this question, aired on one of her “Cyranny’s Quickies” posts.)
I would like to rebel as some respondents have, and try to recombine these choices. But, having a loved one who suffers from depression and because I’m reading a book about the subject in order to understand it better (the cover of that book appears below), I do not see “depression” and “being nice” as a dichotomy. Yup, here I go, taking this questions perhaps WAY too seriously! But that’s what happens when I’m involved in something that is really a very complex question. So please forgive me for overthinking this seemingly binary choice!

I definitely would not want to be an a-hole in any condition and I doubt it would make me happy. Although I suppose there are plenty of happy people who are oblivious to the fact that they are cruel jerks – or they just don’t care. It wouldn’t be me, though. I have too strong a moral compass and always feel guilty when I treat someone badly.

That said, it is perfectly logical to be both nice and depressed. For one thing, very few people are depressed “all the time.” Depression comes and goes. When someone is in a deep depression, they often isolate themselves, cut themselves off from friends and family. People close to them see the warning signs and then may try to intervene.

When someone suffering from depression is NOT depressed, however, he or she seems like a completely different person! When they are not depressed, people who suffer from this mental illness are often quite nice people. Why, you may ask? It may seem like a contradiction, but actually it isn’t. Because there is such a contrast between the depressed and normal states, these people tend to appreciate life and other people more when they are feeling ‘normal’. They feel things acutely and tend to be very sensitive. They are often empathetic (that is, when they are not depressed). They know what it is like to suffer greatly, and know that during their normal state, they should enjoy life and accomplish as much as they can, because they also know that the darkness and isolation – the abyss – will return. The best time for them to seek help with their mental illness is when they are feeling good, because during depression, they can hardly get out of bed, much less do something constructive. When they are depressed and thus miss an event they looked forward to attending, they feel really bad about that, and know that most people at the event probably didn’t expect them to attend, but would have been pleasantly surprised if they had showed up. They live with a lot of guilt, but they usually take that out on themselves, not on other people. (It’s true that the suicide rates are much higher among depressives than non-depressives.) They do invariably hurt people, but usually unintentionally, so you can’t say they are fundamentally a-holes.

So if I had to choose, I would rather be nice and depressed. First of all, the depression doesn’t last forever, and nowadays there is plenty of help for depression, in the form of medications and therapy. New drugs are constantly being put on the market that improve on earlier ones, because medical understanding of depression constantly improves. If one medication doesn’t work, there are others, and different combinations, to try.

Believe me, I don’t desire to be depressed! I wouldn’t wish that on anybody! But as you have posed an either/or choice, this is my reasoning for choosing depression and being nice.

Have you ever made someone cry?
Of course – even though I’m nice and not an a-hole, I am not perfect! I’m sure I’ve made my son cry, but I can’t remember the last time that was.

Are you a dreamer or a go-getter?
I’m a dreamer and unfortunately, not a go-getter. It would be better to act on my dreams, and to some extent I have, but I am not one of those assertive, in-your-face types.

If you were in a band, what instrument would you play?
Probably the piano, because it’s the only instrument I have ever learned to play. But instruments don’t have to be external – I consider my voice an instrument, and so I would be the singer. I sing much better than I play the piano anyway.


GRATITUDE SECTION

Do you feel gratitude is necessary? 
Yes, or rather I feel it SHOULD be necessary. Everyone should feel gratitude about the good things in life, or the people who have touched them. It is necessary for ME, anyway, to feel gratitude. I try to stop and count my blessings or appreciate my life in some way every day.

I greatly appreciate the following song and am grateful that John Lennon gave us his talents until his tragic death in 1980.

Fandango’s Flashback Friday (#2): One Year Ago

I am doing two FFF‘s because one was a photography post and one was a writing post. Plus I think it’s relevant to think back to my frame of mind one year ago! I noticed that I did several posts a year ago today, and I also recall taking a day trip to Woodstock, Illinois! Beginniny of the pandemic = lots of time on my hands!

So here is:

https://amoralegria.com/2020/04/02/fpq-what-will-be-our-post-covid-19-world/ .

FPQ: What Will Be Our Post-COVID-19 World?

FPQ

Fandango’s Provocative Question #63 is a very relevant one:

WHEN WE FINALLY GET THROUGH THIS COVID-19 PANDEMIC AT SOME POINT IN THE FUTURE, DO YOU THINK THE WORLD IS GOING TO CHANGE FROM WHAT IS WAS LIKE BEFORE ANYONE EVER HEARD OF CORONAVIRUS? OR WILL THINGS QUICKLY RETURN TO “BUSINESS AS USUAL”?

I am not sure about the world, but I will talk from the perspective of the United States. This is the most serious problem that requires everyone’s cooperation in our history. Both good and bad will result from it.

Like the period after 9/11, the U.S. will experience a shift that may be permanent. After 9/11, people became more fearful, and that permeated all aspects of society. That fear led to increased prejudice, which ultimately culminated in the election of Donald Trump.

What I think the pandemic will do is make it very clear the serious problems our country has – it will lay them bare as they never have been before. The silver lining of the pandemic is that Donald Trump will probably not be reelected. (Of course, I wish he would be deposed in a less destructive way. And I don’t take it for granted that he will lose, so everybody VOTE!!)

But more importantly, the deficiencies in our health care system and our economic inequality will be top priority of whoever takes office next year. We cannot ignore these things anymore. We’ve been discussing the notion of health care for all for decades. Past administrations looked the other way. When Clinton tried to make reforms, there was a backlash. While Obama did manage to pass the ACA (aka Obamacare), it ended up being watered down due to many compromises that had to be made with the Republicans. Since then, the goal of the Republicans is to repeal the ACA without anything to replace it. And that’s where we are now.

But when the crisis of this pandemic is over, ignoring the problems in our health care system will no longer be possible. The fact that we were not ready for the pandemic is partly shortsightedness of the federal government but also due to deficiencies of our health care system. Our hospitals and health care workers are being overworked and they lack basic equipment. Hospitals are filling to capacity while thousands of others aren’t able to get tested for COVID-19. When testing did become available, people were worried about how they would pay for it (and thanks to Katie Porter, it ended up being free). I think we will really have to examine the priority that health care should have over almost anything else.

Leadership and how we choose leaders may be another problem that we will look at more closely, and their readiness to handle any crisis. We generally choose leaders by charisma and showmanship, and part of the problem is that our choices are limited to two parties. And voting rates are low because many people don’t think their votes count – well, who can blame them when one candidate wins a majority of the popular vote by millions of votes, but the other candidate becomes president because of our weird “Electoral College.”  And we end up with old white men instead of energetic, idealistic younger leaders. Whether this pandemic will end up galvanizing voters, I don’t know. I hope so.

Respect for scientists, belief in them – ignoring science has become a hallmark of conservative Republicans. The governors of some southern states refused to issue stay-home orders by mid-March because they had become used to ignoring and even ridiculing science, the facts. They worried more about the effect on the economy than saving lives. As I write this, three southern states (Florida, Georgia and Mississippi) are FINALLY today issuing stay-at-home orders and acting as though they had no idea the pandemic was this severe! Because it’s become the thing to do for “real” Republicans to thumb their noses at the experts.

I read an editorial in our local paper today, in which the author calls this pandemic time the age of “pathological individualism.” Individualism is fine, but people take it to extremes so that it really becomes selfishness. Individuals think they have a right to do whatever they want without regard for others. Perhaps that was what the governors who waited too long to implement “social distancing” in their states, were thinking. How can we just tell people to stay home? Don’t we have freedom of movement? What about their jobs? This is the United States of America!

What about us, as individual Americans? We will have sacrificed for the greater cause. In times of crisis, the majority of Americans set aside their petty differences and do what they can to help others. Why can’t we be that way all the time? And even now, there are some nasty, vindictive people who are harassing Asians as if these individuals in their community are somehow responsible for manufacturing the virus.

Inequality will be the biggest problem we will have to face, and inequality and racism are intertwined. We have always had inequality, but in recent years the divide between the haves and the have-nots has grown increasingly larger. There are greedy corporate CEOs who quibble over every dollar of taxes when they have millions or billions at one end of the population, and people who cannot obey stay-at-home orders because they have no home on the other. When an analysis of the sick and the dead is completed, what will it say about those who have money and good insurance and those that don’t? Will there be more deaths among the poor? These are questions whose answers are yet to be revealed.

My husband believes that our people will become less consumerist – many things will not have the value they’ve had in the past. People will be very well-acquainted with shortages, just as they were emerging from WWI and WWII. Family and friends will become even more precious, and the desire to express our feelings will be more acute.20200402_164833
I hope he is right, but I’m afraid consumerism is hard-wired in us by now. Perhaps at the end of this pandemic, when people have jobs again, they will go on a buying frenzy. They will be exhorted to do so by the government, in order to jump-start the economy. In the meantime, online buying and delivery services are and will continue to be more ubiquitous than ever.

There will be lots of analyses of the pandemic, from scientific articles about the behavior and characteristics of the virus itself to political critiques about the response to the pandemic – was it too little, too late? Was Trump’s lack of leadership a major factor in the out-of-control number of cases and deaths? In fact, Adam Schiff is already talking about setting up a commission, like the 9/11 Commission, to research, evaluate and synthesize the entire crisis once the pandemic is over. A very large tome with small print and thin paper will be released a couple of years from now for anyone in the public who has the time and inclination to actually read it. But its main points will be publicized and talked about.

Will this lead to dialogue to deal with the very serious problems threatening our democracy? Probably, among some people. But I’m sorry to say, I think most people will return to their former lives (if they still have jobs, that is) as much as they are able – the life they knew that was comfortable. Yet, we won’t be the same. What characteristic will linger when we are all free to roam the world again? After 9/11, it was fear. Post-pandemic, it might be pathological individualism. We’ve fought the good fight, we came out of it with a shaky economy but we can get back to where we were. And now we want our individual lives back.

(All photos except the last one were downloaded from Google Images. The last photo is my own – we found hand sanitizer at Walgreens!)