Charlie Chaplin as “The Great Dictator”. Courtesy image.

YOU’D THINK IT WOULD BE GETTING EASIER

To write this column. So much to choose from, these days. Like meandering into a huge field bursting with infinite rows of wildflowers, and just picking handfuls that strike your fancy. Or, more apropos, dead flowers.

(Oops! Forgive the discouraging word. To make up for that, I suggest you look up the speech Charlie Chaplin gives at the end of his only talkie, the famous anti-fascist film “The Great Dictator” (1940). It’s a bit sweet and overwrought, but still inspiring and current, too current.)

But what if you felt it matters which ones you picked? And they are all the right choice. And all the ones not chosen are a failing on your part.

If it sounds like I‘m losing it, well, maybe I am. But I’m not alone. Many of us who respond “I’m fine” don’t completely believe it. But don’t want to voice it, don’t want to complain.

GDP PLUMMETS

The recent devastation of our nation’s Gross Domestic Product is greater than in the Great Depression — did you know that? — but, lo and behold, no stock market crash for us, no sir, Wall Street is doing just fine, the president reminds us every day.

Maybe because corporate America has gotten trillions (that’s 13 zeros) in government socialism. American billionaires have added $637,000,000,000 to their wealth during this pandemic. I‘ve seen several homes listed for sale recently in LA for more than $100M, and rentals up to $300,000/mo.

ALL THOSE TRILLIONS

Congress passed for so-called relief of America’s pain of unemployment and lost business? Biggest heist in history, and of course no one will be convicted or serve a day. Hundreds of millions to mega-churches and All the President’s Men’s businesses, but we get $1200 and then have $600 in unemployment money quickly yanked away and still not restored. It’s Main Street, not Wall Street, that took the hit.

For getting through a pandemic/economic depression, personally, I’ve got it pretty good, compared to so many. Food in the refrigerator, two cars that run, no impending homelessness, my wife, daughter and I all work from home and still have our jobs, we’re in pretty good health and only know a few who have contracted COVID-19 and no one who has died. Medicare and company health insurance, Social Security and a pension give us some peace of mind. Not well off, but not on the edge. We’re white and never have that moment of dread over the simple act of stepping out the front door.

Tens of millions don’t have these blessings and many are struggling just to put food on the table.

BUT I DETECT A WIDESPREAD DISQUIET

Among those of us who are fortunate. Psychic suffering that is very real. Is it the uncertainty over what could come next? Or just knowing how many of our fellow Americans are really hurting, even though we may only see it on the nightly news.

So many issues, so many things radically different now than they were just a few years ago. Who could have guessed? So much division, and hatred. So many suffering so badly, in 2020. It’s all happening in our backyards, not somewhere else. It is real and we don’t know how it will all turn out. It could be difficult but eventually OK, even much better in the end. Or it could be pure hell.

I firmly believe it will all turn out alright in the end. So if it’s not alright yet — it’s not the end.

I always try to rise above thorny issues and look for a broader view, to see if I can find hope in a philosophical umbrella. (Bumbershoot troubleshoot?) We need a way of looking at things that gives hope through a plan of action. What can I do?

RESIST? PROTEST? MARCH?

Yes, we must, but City Hall and DC have proved resistant to that. (Follow the money.) Nationally, gerrymandering and other forms of voter suppression, dismantling the post office, threatening to postpone the election and/or not abide by it, and locally, outside money keeping the same candidates from the same single party in Santa Monica (SMRR) in power — so discouraging. But let’s remember: African Americans have been protesting and fighting racism for 400 years and most have not given up. As Clipper coach Doc Rivers so emotionally expressed a few days ago, “It’s amazing why we keep loving this country, and this country does not love us back.”

400 years of brutal racism is brushed off by some as a partisan exaggeration, even as horrible murders by police continue unabated. All lives matter is not a rational defense, but to too many, it is.

We’re number one in the world! — when it comes to no national response to a pandemic, resulting in six times the infections and deaths, for our population size, than any other country. Tired of winning yet? But what can we do when the government response ignores and even demonizes all credible medical science?

VOTE, VOTE, VOTE!

The immediate answer to stopping the pain emanating from Tweetmandu is, of course, to vote. In hyuuuuugest numbers this country has never seen before. To make the results indisputable.

I don’t care how you feel about voting. I don’t care how you feel about the Democratic Party or Joe Biden or Kamala Harris. Fine. Have your strong opinions. Do what you need to do starting Nov. 4. But show a little mercy. There are people suffering a lot more than you are, and if you don’t vote to stop this, if you vote for a third party or don’t vote at all, you are responsible. Lives are at stake. If just a fraction of the registered voters who didn’t vote in 2016 had voted against Trump, for Hillary, holding their nose as I did, we wouldn’t have this chaos and suffering. We wouldn’t have almost 200,000 Americans dead. If you dispute that, you’re deluding yourself.

Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 34 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at therealmrmusic@gmail.com