Autumn is traveling season for mariner and his wife. They are off to visit far flung relatives and friends. As the days grow cool and the wind chills the face in a way that hasn’t been felt since early spring, one is reminded of the passing of time. It is a time when melancholy may leak into one’s thoughts.

This fall in particular may bring on depression and fear. The entire world is in dire straits. No one can truly predict the twists and turns of the near future. In the United States, democracy and Constitutional freedom are frayed and dangling as the nation drifts into a serious split between authoritarian government and individual freedom to choose.

This political cleavage is deep, deep to the core foundations of the American way of life. Like a festering cancer it has been growing since the end of the Second World War. It is a battle between haves and have nots; it is a battle between racial elitism and equality for everyone; it is a battle between government and private enterprise; it a battle between tradition and science; it is a battle been humanity and the planet itself.

When one reads about the great tragedies of history, it is difficult to put one’s self into what it really must have felt like when Vesuvius erupted or the sudden flooding of the Middle East when the Black Sea broke through the Dardanelles or when the Spanish invaded and murdered the innocent cultures of the Americas or even today living under a Syrian dictatorship that gives no quarter with freedom of thought.

But now we know. Poverty is a growing disease growing as fast as any Covid invasion yet it remains invisible to the rest of the nation. The have nots continue to pay for the wealth and indiscretion of the haves, and they are paying with their very lives. This is slavery in modern form. Today the numbers of deprived have spilled out of the barrios into a labor class which has been denied equality of any kind for forty years – and who vent their anger by electing an incompetent President who has set the nation’s self-image back to the Revolutionary War and who blatantly tried to disrupt a national election.

Now we know.

Mariner thinks of an old automobile that is worn and rusted. It is time to buy a new one. What will it look like? How much will it cost? Will the old clunker keep running until then? Mariner, an old folk, thinks longingly about having a donkey cart. But he knows the future will not allow the past.

Does anyone know the future?

Ancient Mariner


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