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to hell in a handbasket
by sloan b. bayles

On any given day my mind whirls trying to keep up with the world around me. Politically, environmentally, humanitarily. Living in my own little microcosm trying to make sense and gain understanding of events, cause and effects, problems and solutions. Democrats vs. Republicans, environmentalists vs. natural resource rapists, bleeding hearts vs. cold hearted bastards, us vs. them. I wonder though, who is "us" and who is "them". Which one am I? I suppose I am both, like all of us are, depending on the situation and who is doing the pointing.

This isn't going to turn into some political diatribe with colorful euphemisms like red and blue because frankly I'm probably one of the least qualified people to recount political history accurately. Give me a subject and I'll have an opinion. I can only try to make sure it's a well informed one. And while they were great artists and visionaries I don’t intend on dropping any John Lennon / Paul McCartney quotes for us to Imagine or simply Let It Be. It’s not my intention to be a Debbie Downer and say that we are headed straight to Hell in a hand basket, even though it feels that way sometimes.

On this particular mind whirling day I can't help wondering, what was God/Mother Nature thinking when he/she created us. The planet was doing okay without us. Ebbs and flows. Sunrises and sunsets. Breathtaking color spectrums on mountain vistas and breaking ocean waves. Then humans arrive. As the most intelligent mammal to inhabit the earth, we've managed to fight with and kill each other for every reason imaginable since we began our reign on this tiny blue speck in our universe. The color of one's skin, the higher power one chooses to worship, the caste one is born into, who someone falls in love with, etc. etc. etc. All of the trials and tribulations that go along with the human learning curve could be argued to have been worth it if they had brought us to a point of enlightenment. Watch the evening news and it seems evident that it hasn’t really. Several millennia of recorded history and we seem to be continuing to fight the same tired fights. We continue to be encumbered by the same orating oppressors. Personally, I refuse to be a lemming or be lead by the nose ring.

Gandhi told us to "be the change you want to see in the world". My problem is there are so many damn things I want changed - where to start? As I haven't yet mastered the art of being ubiquitous I suppose I need to concentrate on my little tiny piece of the planet, and just go from there. While I have lived from one coast to the other, and a couple of places in between, I’m unfortunately not well traveled outside the U.S. What I know of other cultures and countries comes from reading or (thank God for Discovery Channel) television.

I believe that Maslow was right and that at our core, human beings all want the same things. There is a hierarchy of needs - physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem and self-actualization. What is it about us that makes it so damn hard to simply live and let live? Why does it make some people feel superior to hold other people down? When did greed and power and fanaticism become “just the way it is”? Why can't we simply live cohesively with one another? I’m so glad I picked an easy topic - insert definition of sarcasm.

I can definitely be less than pleasant and fun to be around at times, and I have been known to be somewhat confrontational on occasion. Not in a “I’m going to kick your ass” confrontational, at least not since I was about 17, but more in a verbal barrage of insults kind of way. I’m not saying these are my proudest moments, but I’ll own up to them. Overall I strive to be kind and compassionate, to help others willingly without expecting anything in return, to give financially to causes I believe in, to not be judgmental. To show tolerance and empathy to others. To not think my job of teaching my son is done simply because he is now an adult, but to continue to lead by example. To be selfless versus selfish. I am the farthest thing from perfect, nor do I strive to be because I try not to set myself up for failure. I’m certainly not the poster child for being a great human being.

I’m never going to end world hunger, or be able to vanquish prejudice, or solve economic disasters. I can only continue to try to be a good person, kind and compassionate, helpful, loving, and hope I have a positive influence on others to want to act in kind. To be the change I want to see in the world.


A native Californian still dealing with the culture shock of having lived in Louisiana. I happily escaped to North Carolina. Wife, mother, and corporate world worker bee who is convinced all three of these have lead to my premature gray hair. The only thing I write professionally are honey-do lists.

more about sloan b. bayles


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simple acknowledgement
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published: 12.30.99

and i don't mean wonder
by sloan b. bayles
topic: general
published: 12.30.99


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