In college, my friend Matt gave me Vonnegut's novel "Timequake" and told me I had to read it. It's flawed but wonderful, and the basic premise is that there's a Timequake in 2001, and everyone must relive the decade between 1991 and 2001 exactly as he or she led his or her life the first time around. After the Timequake, everyone must re-enact an entire decade of his or her life -- as if people are merely Players, without free will. However, these Players are aware of the fact that they're reliving ten whole years, but since they must do exactly what they did the first time around, and nobody had the foresight during the first 1991-2001 period to ask anyone "What if we are reliving ten whole years of our lives?", the question must remain unasked.
Suddenly, in 2001 (the second time around), the Timequake ends and Free Will returns. People can cease being Players and become Beings once more. And the people are lost and confused and pandemonium ensues. But Kilgore Trout revives the populace by announcing, "You were sick and now you are well again and there's work to be done."
I'm an eternal hippie optimist and I believe in all sorts of Be Here Now principles and the belief that We're All One. And I watched President Bush's address to the nation tonight. And beneath all the propaganda; beneath the continuous reminders that we must be prepared for the acts of Evil Men; beneath all the slimyness and politicking; beneath all the govermental declarations and even beneath the mind-blowing mea culpa, I think he was essentially asking Americans to use the power for good. Beneath all the other hoopla, I think there was a thread of: people need your help, and please do all you can to help these people, in every and any way possible. A thread of: be a human Being and offer what you can to help people who are suffering. Be a Being who acts with wisdom and compassion, and try to help people who are worse off than you are.
And I think it's been a long time since anyone challenged all of America collectively to stop acting only in self-interest and to start acting in order to enhance the greater good. Ever since Bush won the re-election, I think that I and a lot of my friends have been disillusioned about our seemingly-lack of voice in this country's democratic process. We've been depressed and frustrated, as the leader of our country continues to perform acts of such astonshing audacity that the mind reels. It often seems, when faced with the facts and the evidence juxtaposed with the Bush administration's decisions and commands, that the only way to stop one's mind from current-event-induced reeling is to turn to numbness, hurt and exasperation. But I think we have a chance here to mobilize the country into taking a different path. Bushs's approval ratings are way down and I think the 2008 election is going to bring hope and possibility. And I think that the devastation and destruction of the Gulf Coast might be the catalyst that crosses party lines and blurs ideological differences as we all try to help one another -- as I said before, to use the power for good.
So tonight, I'm reminded of Kilgore Trout and his message to the people once Free Will returned: "You were sick, and now you are well again and there's work to be done."