Thoughts & Musings for Thursday, September 24, 2020
Hello again, Dear Reader. In my neck of Florida it is mid-morning on a humid and hot day in the early fall of 2020. According to my phone’s AccuWeather app, the temperature outside is 75˚ F under partly cloudy skies, but with 86% humidity and an east-southeasterly breeze barely blowing at 3 MPH (with occasional 7 MPH gusts), the “feels like” temperature is 84˚ F in the open and 79˚F in the shade. The house I live in is cool because the owner likes to set the air conditioner at 74˚F or slightly less; that’s colder than I would set it (my preferred thermostat setting was 78˚F), but I don’t have much – or any – say in the matter.
If time travel were possible, I would like to make a backward jump to where and when I was 32 years ago today – in Sevilla (Seville) Spain. I don’t know if I would want to retain my memories of 2020 in order to do so, because then the temptation would be for me to simply stay in 1988 and live out the rest of my days without knowing how things are in 2020. In every time travel story I have read or seen in films or TV, the traveler goes backward in time and retains knowledge of his or her “present” day and tries to manipulate events to change the “future.” I have yet to see any story in which the protagonist awakes in the “past” with his or her mind as a tabula rasa.
I live in the United States of America. I was born here almost 60 years ago (I’ll be 58 next March, so my next milestone birthday will be the big Six-Oh) and, unless I write a bestselling book or pen a blockbuster film that will result in a payday big enough to allow me to emigrate to, say, Spain, I will more than likely die here.
Until November of 2016, that prospect did not bother me much. I am, after all, a first-generation American citizen, born in Miami, Florida to two legal immigrants and residents of the U.S. from Colombia. Except for a six-year period when my mom, older half-sister, and I lived in Bogota (Colombia’s capital) to be near my mom’s family, I have lived in the “good old U.S.A.” all of my life. And I deeply love the land of my birth.
But considering how bad things have gotten ever since Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, I look at my country with horrified and sorrow-filled eyes and see:
- A President whose rhetoric and policies are divisive
- A President who only cares about himself and his family
- A President who “governs” only for a certain constituency instead of the entirety of the American people
- A President whose conscious decisions to downplay the COVID-19 pandemic for political purposes resulted in the deaths of 201,959 men, women, and children
- A political party that has been co-opted by a cabal of wealthy billionaires who don’t like paying taxes, white supremacists, isolationists, and nationalists, and a subset of fundamentalist Christians who rail about their Muslim counterparts yet want to impose their version of Sharia on a nation founded on a secular social order based on freedom of speech and thought (religious and non-religious)
- A deeply divided citizenry
- Toxic rhetoric from extremists on both the right and the left
- The sure and steady undoing of the institutions that promote and protect democracy
- The rise of American-style fascism, branded simply as Trumpism
So, yes, if I could travel back in time, it would be to when I was 25 years old, studying journalism, and participating in a college study-abroad program in the beautiful Spanish city of Seville. Again, since the physics of time travel are fictional and thus impossible, I am not sure if I’d be 57-going-on-58 and emerge in 1988 as such, or if I’d physically vanish, as Douglas Adams would say, “in a puff of logic” and re-enter, Palpatine-like, my 25-year-old body and overwrite my 1988 “self.”
And if I could do so without any memory – or foreknowledge, as it were – of 2020, COVID-19, Donald Trump, and a divided America, so much the better.