Friday, May 20, 2011

A Profound Moment in History

Late August, 1998. Pasadena.

    "We're living through a profound moment in history," my friend, Andy, told me the other day. 
     His parents, one Russian, one Polish, named him Anatole, but he grew up as 'Andy.' He knows how I resist this media wave, fixed on the Millenium. The numbers are irrelevant, relative, arbitrary. If you follow the Gregorian calculations, it's a thousand years. If your calendar reckons time from the lunar months of Abraham, or the flight of the Prophet, it isn't 1998. Some of us mark the passage of time from the days of the Pharaohs or the first dynasty of Atlantis. A few remote communities may be beyond the reach of Y2K angst altogether.
     "What makes this bundle of years so special, O Wise One?" I asked. "Sure, we're in it. That makes it important, but think about what our grandmothers lived through!" I said. "Global wars. Global depression. Global transportation... And their grandmothers lived through wars, the Civil War, the Boer War, the Restoration of the Meiji dynasty, the Suez Canal, the Third Republic! Every moment in history is profound, Andy, to the people who live it!" I paused in my rant.
      "For sure, man," he said, "if I can describe it." Long pause. This is an articulate guy, so, I wait. "It's got to be gaining momentum, Luz. Just look at this week --
      "The liberal leader of the most powerful state on the planet admitted to the world that he lied about what he was doing with a young woman on his Presidential staff. This same leader, the year before 'ended Welfare as we know it,' and claimed savings of hundreds of millions of dollars for tax-payers. Later that same week, he gave orders to send 100 Tomahawk missiles ($1,000,000 / unit) into northern Africa and eastern Afghanistan. And that's just the American highlights...
    "McGuire and Sosa both had homers. Yeltsin fired his Cabinet. Aung San Suu Kyi is barricaded on a bridge in Burma. Serious earthquake in Japan. Heavy flooding in China. Armed insurgencies in Colombia, Angola, Indonesia, Mexico...." Andy stops and looks at me, question on his face, It's bad, right
     "Sounds pretty normal," I said. "The wave is not crashing today, Andy. Last week it was bombing the embassies in Africa. Clinton came back from China. Roy Rodgers and Frank Sinatra died. There's your historical marker," I offered.
      Andy sighed, "Yeah, what a voice."
      "No, Roy Rodgers." 


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