A Seaman's Journey

Adventures of a Lifetime


When the World Burned

The year was 2020 when the world caught fire. Right-wing nationalistic movements threatened to plunge the entire globe into the final great war. The beating of drums could be heard in most countries as authoritarian dictators strutted their stuff in a way not seen since Hitler.

Even in America, once a beacon of democracy, there was serious debate about whether we were witnessing the last gasp of free elections. By the start of 2020 fear and anger had poisoned all social interactions both in public and private. Relationships that had been treasured for decades were cast aside because hatred was just below the surface.

2020 was also the hottest year in recorded history. The great majority of the public was in denial over whether the climate of the earth was actually changing. 2020 was to be the beginning of the new era of climate catastrophes.

The year was marked by unprecedented hurricanes, tornadoes, forrest fires, and floods. As I write we have days when we cannot be outside because of the smoke from the fires. The whole western US is on fire.

The cause of the climate change can be debated, only an absolute idiot would deny it. Each serious issue we face has become mired in politics and uninformed opinions. We no longer really believe in science or any other form of objective reality. We believe that perception creates its own reality so that everyones opinion carries the same weight.

March 13, 2020 was the day the pandemic hit my world. I knew within a week that my world would never be the same. I was teaching at the university and there was an immediate shutdown. Soon some of our leaders would realize how serious the situation was. The governor of Colorado ordered everyone to shelter in place and a complete shutdown of all normal aspects of social life.

Because of the extreme foolishness and incompetency of Trump the containment of the epidemic failed spectacularly. This resulting in the US leading the death toll by a huge margin. Once again we saw the pain caused by the failing in leadership.

Other countries responded in very different ways to the crisis and were able to soften the impact of the pandemic. Like the climate crisis those in power turned the pandemic into a political issue rather than a scientific one. Denial persisted even as the President himself got infected.

From 2016 there has been a steady erosion of personal freedom. The crackdown on immigration and the imprisonment of the children of immigrants is rooted in ethnic hatred and bigotry that is quite old. But it has rarely been the policy of the US government to be so heartless toward those who suffer.

Violence and brutality have hit an all-time level. The murder of George Floyd by policemen sparked a new fire. Police forces enforce the rule of law and seek to uphold justice. But justice has not been available equally to all.
Protection has been given largely to the privileged and denied to the poor and minorities.

America has become a land of “Haves and Have Nots”. Wealth and power are integrally connected. America has been great in the past precisely because there was a large middle class. Wealth and power are consolidated before like no other time in our history. 1% of the people own 50% of the wealth. 5 individuals control the wealth of the poorest 50% of all Americans. Ponder that for a moment.

Social justice is directly tied to the sharing of wealth and power. The murder of George was seen by many to represent the oppressors attacking their victims in an attempt to teach them their place. Racism and bigotry are often wrapped in language about law and order. This fire has been burning since the inception of this nation. But in 2020 it threatened to erupt and engulf us all.