Monday, August 01, 2005

...and now the unbearable heaviness

My office is in the Old Town area of Prague. We are right next to the Church of St Giles and I can see countless other churches from my window including St Vitus Cathedral up at the castle, and both St Nicholas and Our Lady of Týn on Old Town Square. Church bells gong on the quarter-hour and there is an extended ringing of bells at midday. I used to love the sound of the bells ringing, the depth, resonance and melody. But now for some reason the bells have started to sound ominous to me, sending chills through my body, as if heralding the onset of some great catastrophe.

I have been sad lately. My sadness makes me overly sensitive, intolerant, cranky and mean; yesterday I was an absolute bitch on the phone to my parents. I feel like I cannot help it, although Monkey says that’s nonsense and deep down I know he is right. But I am not ready to shake the sadness: it comes from a deep despair inspired by the state of the world and the evil of some of the people in it.

I am an American and proud to come from such a great country. But I despair that we have embarked on a downward spiral into martial law. Provisions of the Patriot Act, searches on the subway, anyone that looks dark and spooky being treated as suspicious, electronic tracking devices for people crossing the border from Canada, fingerprinting everyone who visits our country… What is next? The trend is ominous.

I am going to the US this month, flying over sometime between the 6th and the 16th. Monkey does not exactly try to talk me out of it, he merely drops small but frequent hints that I must be out of my mind to want to go to the US right now. I don’t really want to go but I have family commitments and feel I have to go, and I really need a holiday at any rate.

I wish this feeling of dread would go away; I am not comfortable with the heaviness.

15 comments:

Skeeter said...

I wouldn't despair MM.

Besides everything you see and hear, it's still the greatest country. I think you are simply looking at it from a different perspective now than you ever have before. I'm guessing but I imagine you watch a lot of CNN, BBCWorld, etc. to get news from home. Well believe it or not different news organizations have ways of exaggerating and playing one slant on any particular subject.
Also, everybody loves to bash the US, deserved or not, so you're getting that as well.

I don't agree with Monkey. Frankly, I wouldn't be anywhere other than the US.

Think about it...you're living in a country that was under soviet control for decades. And I wonder how free they still are today.

Come on back in the water is fine. :)

Max said...

Thanks, Skeeter, it's very good to get a perspective from the inside. But you are mistaken in that I don't watch much tv news at all (too boring), and in fact get most of my information from a wide enough range of sources to be able to determine for myself what might really be going on.

As for freedom in the Czech Republic - so far so good. I was just having lunch with the head of my firm and I was explaining to her that I feel a lot freer here than in the US. Of course that is down to internal factors as well as external.

Ludovic said...

Hey MM,
Don't let them get you down. Nothing can kill off all the good in the world because there is always wisdom and always innocence somewhere.
There might not be much of either down here, but its always safe to visit...
mejte se hezka ...I'm too tired to spell it correctly
love
Ludo

Tits Malone said...

MM,

I understand how you feel. It is difficult for me to watch news programs from the USA without feeling completely depressed. FoxNews is like and endurance test. I can only manage about 3 minutes before I have to turn the channel. My mother always said that you never leave somewhere until you return once. I know that you have been back a couple of times and that the circumstances have changed. Still, family commitments are important and your life will be more difficult and guilt-ridden if you don't go.


Why not stop in Montreal and we can have a mini reunion with Chatsy and I can get my sister to drive me. It will be fun!!! Montreal is the best city in Canada to party in! Cute boys, cheap cocktails and poutine at 4:00 a.m.

se rappeler que vous êtes une femme merveilleuse!!!

un baiser français de toronto xxxooo

p.s. I am still learning so be kind if I got the above translation incorrect

Monkey said...

Skeeter, why is America the greatest country in the world? Which other countries have you visited or lived in?

AG said...

Breaking News from ABCNEWS.com:

PRESIDENT BUSH WILL APPOINT JOHN BOLTON AS U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N. TODAY

Anonymous A-Hole said...

MM,

Don't worry. You'll get to see me and that should make everything fine. No, wait, you'll get all your meals and drinks paid for and you'll lounge by the pool in a semi-permanent drunkeness and everthing will be fine.

Besides, the stormtroopers haven't been through my house in at least 25 minutes; things are really easing up.

kd said...

It wasn't until I visited the US after living abroad for almost 2 years that I realized how 'free' this former communist state really is. It's a strange thing to realize...As Americans we feel, taste and hear our freedoms being taken from us daily (yes, even from abroad), and we know it's happening because we had 'freedom' at one point. The current state of affairs in the US is causing us to redefine what Freedom really means.

Atleast here the communist and facist parties aren't hiding their labels, nor are the 'Christian Democrats' hiding under the umbrella of a more 'accepted' or mainstream party name...And the racists admit to being racist, and those who complain are able to do so openly, without fear of being dragged off to who-knows-where...

Max said...

Ludo, thank you for your optimism. I seem to have run out.

TM, merci bien. Poutine - that just makes me laugh.

Asshole, you do not have to give away the secret that I come from a long line of drunks. But yes, I am totally looking forward to living in complete luxury (that I could never afford) at no cost to myself.

kd, nice one, I'll buy you a beer in about 90 mins.

Skeeter said...

Monkey,

I gather by your question that you don't agree. That's fine. I don't want to get into an arguement with you.

I feel people can get into a mode where they focus on the bad things rather than the good. It's to be expected I suppose, bad things make better press, so thats all you seem to hear anymore. But I feel its all relative.

I've only been in 2 other countries, Canada and Mexico, in my lifetime. I would have loved to travel abroad more by now, but circumstances just wouldn't allow it. Hopefully, later on in life.

As to why I think so? Alot of my evidence is anecdotal, i.e., talking to people from all over the world, talking with friends and relatives that have lived all over the world, etc. But lets look at some figures. I think some measure of how good a country is, may be seen in the numbers of people that want to come here. In other words immigration. This is a conscious decision someone makes to leave there country of origin and families, etc. and come to a new country.
1990 Census 19,767,316 of the US population was foreign born up from 14,079,906 in 1980 and up from 13,515,886 during the last "Great Wave" of immigration to America. I can't seem to find 2000 census figures very easily right now, but another figure I see is 10.4% of the US population is foreign born, that's roughly 25 million give or take, so the number is still going up.
86.4% of those immigrants are seeking asylum, too. Why would you go from a bad country to a worse country?
New Citizenships..898,000 new Citizenships in 2000. That dwarfs the next highest Canada with 214,600.
OK lets look at taxation.. .something I can't stand..US taxes it's population on average 30%, while countries like Germany, Hungary and Belgium are over 50%....50% of their gross earnings goes to taxes. FYI Czech Republic is estimated at 43%.
Nationmaster.com
How about deaths per capita? Latvia has 14,090.93 deaths per 1 million people. Actually several of the top ten are former soviet block countries. US isn't even in the top 48.

Like I say folks it's all relative.

And before you start quoting figures on the negative side...don't bother. I know there is a lot of room for improvement. But the US has been moving towards socialism for a long time now, the main reason it hasn't, I think is because folks like DD, and Monkey, and Monkey's Max, and myself I daresay, won't be silent about the bad stuff. Keep it up. Good job.

peace I'm out.

Monkey said...

Skeet,

No negative figures.

No, I don't agree, but do have a problem with people who make bold statements, as you did, with little knowledge or experience of what life is like outside of American borders. I appreciate your facts and conviction, and will reply with an offer: come live abroad for a year and experience real freedom, then make up your mind. It's obvious from your posts that you're an intelligent, logical guy, so why not see what life is like on the other side of the fence before declaring yours better? I know how easy it is to sit in front of the plasma tv with a fridge full of beer and food behind you, and an SUV in the driveway, and forget about the world around you.

Don't believe the hype, come see for yourself.

And I won't be silent until I'm in a box, 6 feet under Gitmo.

Skeeter said...

Monkey,

Thanks. You're right I do tend to make bold statements like that. In my defense, I was trying to bolster MM's apprehension at even visiting the US.

I can't really live abroad, I could only visit for short periods, but I do plan on doing so. I will take you up on your offer.

I guess I picked those particular facts and figures because they're not coming from someone that is sitting in front of the plasma TV (I don't have one anyway), with a fridge full of beer and food (my fridge is empty except for condiments, but thanks for reminding me, I need to get some beer on the way home from work...mmmm beer), and a SUV in the driveway (don't own one of those either). They are the cold hard facts...people are still struggling to get to the US despite all it's faults.

I will take your advice and retract my previous bold statement. I will also give you similar advice. "I know it's easy to be down on America when you are living abroad in the midst of so many negative thoughts and feelings towards the US".

Have a great day. And thanks for the dissent. Keep it up.

Charlie Parlay said...

SUV - check
Beer in Fridge - check
Plasma - no, that's a marketing ploy for those too lazy to do the research; DLPs have a much better picture
God Bless America, My Home, Sweet Home!

Monkey said...

Skeet,
Let us know when you're arriving, you'll always have a place to stay regardless of duration; any friend of DD's is a friend of ours. We'll meet you at Ruzyne with open arms. And beer...mmmm beer. But I can drink more.

Celinka said...

MM TITS La Joie de vivre c'est a Montreal.

It's on the way to LA if you fly CSA...

Gonna shake things up in TO next week with Tits Malone...Malone Sister Gang meeting...