Irritation is defined as the state of feeling annoyed, impatient, or slightly angry. Well, all I can say I guess is welcome to my world much of the time these days. I am reminded of a cartoon I saw recently on Facebook that I will have to paraphrase since I can’t seem to retrieve the original posting- there is another irritation. It showed three elderly women sitting on a park bench and one says: “I find myself irritated with virtually everything these days while simultaneously not giving a rat’s ass about anything”. Perhaps her not giving a “rat’s ass” could be chalked up to a realization of powerlessness and the inability to exact meaningful change.

I am certainly irritated a lot most often with the current state of politics in America these days. I wouldn’t say at all that I don’t give a rat’s ass about any of it but as I have aged, I am acutely aware of how little power I have as an individual to exact any meaningful change. I certainly had no trouble voting for Biden. That to me was such an obvious choice that I am quite irritated that the 73 million fellow Americans who voted for Trump did not feel the same.

Being a strong Bernie Sanders supporter though I felt that Biden would only slow the demise of the planet due in large part to climate catastrophe and of course I realize that Bernie might have only slowed it a bit more than Biden. Don’t get me wrong I think there is some faint hope that by slowing the rate of destruction humanity may wake up in time to keep the human race from completely going down in flames and taking most sentient beings with it. And I think that we elders’, certainly those of us 60 and above, will definitely benefit from a slowing of the carnage even by a decade or so.

Over the years I have certainly felt various levels of irritation when one of my cherished beliefs was punctured by reality. This continues to be the case and most recently occurred with a documentary I was turned on to by one of my past Buddhist teachers. The documentary is called “Living in a Time of Dying” produced by Michael Shaw. It is on YouTube and is free. The premise is that we are already irretrievably down the road of climate catastrophe and that it is occurring much faster than anticipated. 

There are several interviews in the film with people who can be described as “doomers” or those who believe we are already totally fucked when it comes to being able to reverse climate Armageddon. I have already watched it three times and not because I hear any sort of hope. In fact, hope is on more than one occasion in the film is criticized as some sort of getting out of jail free card. Now I know this makes it sound like a real bummer no one needs right now in 2020. They do make a very compelling case however and offer numerous ways to productively face the coming and in their view the inevitable reality. Again, not offering any hope but rather ways to proceed in an honest and one might say very spiritual manner. I do appreciate that our plate has been quite full dealing with catastrophe, but it looks like we have gotten rid of Trump, the vaccines look promising in bringing COVID-19 under control so perhaps by mid-2021 we can move climate issues back to the forefront.

Let me get back a bit more on track with today’s topic of “irritation” but still climate-related. One of my pet peeves and very much irritation is when climate issues are approached by pundits and politicians as if there are two sides to the argument when there are not. My feelings were very succinctly expressed in a Facebook post by an entity called “Progressive Secular Humanist”: “Stop asking candidates (aka politicians) if they “believe” in climate change and ask if they understand it. It is science, not Santa Claus”.

One more irritation and I’ll stop though I could go on for hours. This relates to how Socialism is so often presented, misrepresented, and manipulated particularly in the U.S. As I suspect is the case for many irritations one has this one is related to my own “sacred” personal beliefs. I first joined the Democratic Socialist Party in the late 1960s and after many decades rejoined as a dues-paying member a few years ago. My sense of how ridiculous so many of the attacks on Socialism are in this country was expressed very well by another Facebook post this one from The Original Church of Sarcasm: “Most Americans would not know what Socialism is, even if it directly deposited a social security check in their FDIC insured bank account”.

Let me assure you all I waste much more time these days on Hulu and Netflix than I do on FaceBook.