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I am emotionally resilient. I navigate grief more easily than other people. I have an enormous capacity for darkness, blood, and even gore in books, art, and entertainment. Unlike the extroverts who mourned group activities and human connection during the COVID lockdown, I relished the peace and quiet and solitude. But lately I find myself unexpectedly coming apart.

Confused Ukrainian grandmothers clutch their cats, dogs, & parakeets as they seek escape from yet another war—they’re not so different from the accomplished and wealthy Jews forced to abandon their life accumulations to board trains to death.  


Drivers of vehicles with souped-up mufflers relish a muscular growl as they stomp on the accelerator at the intersection at one end of the block, only to stomp on the brake just before the intersection at this end of the short block. Gas is not precious enough, it seems. The vision a skinny polar bear astride a shrinking growler floating out to sea, lodges in my brain and my eyes drip.


American flags flutter belligerently from the backs of pickups with over-sized tires and super-sized mufflers , driven by people with matching mega-egos, well-armed and eager to defend their fellow white nationalists from being “replaced” by people of color and worshipers of different gods. Firearm production has tripled in the last 20 years. We don’t need Russia. We are at war with each other.

In the aftermath of the murder of his mother by a white, 18-year-old thug, Garnell Whitfield, Jr. said it all: This shouldn’t have happened. We do our best to be good citizens, to be good people. We believe in God. We trust him. We treat people with decency, we love even our enemies. And you expect us to keep doing this over and over again.

Photo: Matt Rourke AP

The man is correct. There is no excuse for the way nations treat each other—over and over again; for the way humanity treats this singularly beautiful, blue planet—day in and day out; for the senseless war Americans wage against one another—198 mass shootings in 19 weeks, not counting the mayhem of cops and robbers and mobsters. When will it end? Will our collective tears be enough to douse the flames of hatred? Will they bathe our drought-ridden planet in hope? Or are we doomed to take the glory of life on earth out in a blaze of unglory?

Tough old bird that I am, I’m gutted, my heart squeezed.