I am 73 years old. I have watched two generations of parents live their lives then slip away to whatever comes next. It seems to happen in one of several ways. The easiest way out seems to me to be what most people consider the most tragic … a sudden accident that snuffs out a life in its tracks. Then there are the injuries and illnesses that gradually drain the life from those we know. According to Tim McGraw’s Live Like You Were Dying, that can be a time to finally appreciate life and be the man (or woman) you were meant to be. Somehow, I suspect that doesn’t come easy. But some just get old and slip away. Certainly that is sometimes just due to the aging of the body, but I have a theory why others just decide to let go and die. I think as we age, we look at the world that’s changed around us and don’t like what we see. We feel like a Stranger in a Strange Land (to shoplift the title of Robert A. Heinlein’s classic sci-fi novel). And at some point we just say, I’m ready for whatever’s next. It can’t be worse than this.
Since the last election, I have been having some of those Stranger in a Strange Land feelings. It would be easy to blame President Trump and those who elected him but I think they are a just reflection of changes that have been happening in our society for years now. The election of a president that reflects those changes has just made them more obvious to this usually optimistic 73 year old. The degree of disagreement between citizens and the vehemence with which people express their opinions … without ever considering that The Other might be right … scares me. Such attitudes are kryptonite to democracy … we’ve seen what they do to the ability of our leaders to govern. Most news sources are incredibly biased, not just politically, but culturally and philosophically. President Trump is right about that but unfortunately he sees it as a problem only when it is biased against him. I regularly read articles in the mainstream media (yes, I’m talking to you, CNN … Fox … USA Today) that are more about personal attacks on the other side than news … or more about social engineering than fact. Neither side is willing to give The Other credit when it’s due or respect The Other’s beliefs. Social Media only makes things worse. Anyone can post information or mis-information with impunity and a citizenry drunk on confirmation bias is only too happy to believe what supports their opinions. That has become the definition of facts with everything else fake news.
So, what’s an aging writer to do. He can slip into being a Stranger in a Strange Land and risk deciding this life is not worth living any more … or he can write about his frustrations. This blog, Both Sides Now, will be my place for that. Here, I will try to see both sides of the news, always an invitation to controversy. I can almost guarantee that if you decide to follow me, you will disagree with some of what I post. I may even disagree with some of what I post. That is the nature of being open-minded. The secret to not being so open minded that your brain falls out is to: do your research in reliable places, distinguish opinion from fact and think. In other words, don’t be offended by my opinions, think about them. Any comments, pro or con, are welcome as long as they are respectfully offered.