It's been a year, but I am back.
There was an interesting article in yesterday's New York Times reporting a new study indicating white Americans without higher educations, especially males, in the age group 34-40 were dying off at a disproportionate rate while the rest of the population was enjoying extended life expectancies. I read the piece expecting to learn some new disturbing statistics on the rise of prostate cancer deaths or deaths attributed to obesity from eating too much fast food, but that was not what I found. The article somewhat speculatively pointed an accusing finger at drugs, alcohol, and suicide. It appears the trend is a relatively new phenomenon. In essence, white males about to enter their middle years are dying of unhappiness. And that, my friends, is a profoundly sad event.
I asked myself in the wee small hours of the morning: what is it that drugs and alcohol purport to do, at least in the beginning? They distort reality and dull pain. Drug use, including alcohol, is not the cause, but the cure that failed. The generalization I dare to make from this is white American males without college educations are no longer upwardly mobile, and it is killing them. Despair is a very personal things, but sociological factors aggravate the situation. One is the global economy. Consider what it was that kept the dream alive for men in their middle years in times past --and it was the accessibility of jobs in the trades. One did not need a college degree to be the superintendent of an assembly line in an automobile assembly plant. He needed a skill set and a work ethic. Those jobs went overseas. When the American economy was expanding, the building trades provided opportunities to many. I knew more than one or two roofers who got up before dawn, roofed houses until three in the afternoon and were home at five after enjoying a beer or two and camaraderie with their fellows on the construction crew. Many of them were having a lot more fun and earning a better living than their high school teacher next-door neighbor. Those were the Happy Days, and they are gone. While the message of this century need not be a dirge, it does require some reframing of the American Dream. In my eighth decade, it is presumptuous of me to propound solutions to a problem I shall not be around to solve, but it is one facing the survivors of a dying breed, and our leadership is not addressing it. If you wonder why that is, ask yourself if we are not choosing our leaders from the private social club which caused it.
And that's the view on November 4, 2015, in my little corner of the world.
Join me if you dare!
I am like a Janus face. On this page, I turn away the countenance of the historical novelist and expose the strange egocentric creature I call 'me.' It was time to separate the co-joined. I discovered that those who visited my blog for a glimpse of the personal Linda Root did not wish an encounter with the novelist, and the visitors who came hoping for a look at the First Marie or with intent to scale the wall of the abbey Saint Pierre les Dames for a glimpse of the Hidden Princess in my Midwife's Secret trilogy did not want to read about my childhood in Cleveland during WWII.
In a sense, what appears on this page will be a historical novel in the making--a collage of autobiographical pieces embellished with a sprinkle of whimsy, a touch of soul-searching and occasional doses of pain. We all see ourselves as through a mirror, a slightly different view that what outsiders see. I once was quoted as saying that 'too much introspection is not good for anyone.' Apparently I've changed my mind.