We were coming back from the Indianapolis blogfest and all night car wash, and since driving I-71 north from Columbus is mostly “hit cruise control and settle in behind a truck” driving, I had some time to chew over some of the conversation.
Specifically, I was thinking about some of the things James Rummel was telling me about his experiences helping people who have been brutally victimized by some of society’s worst predators. It’s humbling when you meet someone who does good things and refuses to despair over the wickedness he sees every day. Me, I tend to fall into moping if my shoelace breaks.
But talking to James was enlightening, and it helped me gain a deeper realization of something I knew intellectually, but never seriously internalized – I am incredibly lucky. I exist in the middle of the American middle class – the graviest of the gravy trains in the history of the planet. Hell, if I had a blindfold, a million darts, and a map of the world, nine-hundred-thousand throws would land me in a place worse off than here and now, and a lot of those would be traumatically worse.
Coming out of my reverie, I look up to check the rear view mirror and I can see someone driving shiny new Audi and working up to pass me. Nope, the left hand lane traffic is too fast, they’re going to have to wait, and I can see the black car shudder as the driver’s impatience gets transmitted through the steering wheel. Sorry friend, I’m not going to move up and crowd a tractor trailer just so you can get your autobahn on – you can wait.
The Audi driver found a solution – pass on the right, eighty miles an hour past me and my eighteen-wheeled friend in heavy traffic and the devil take the hindmost.
I glanced over to see the car and driver – blond, young, pretty, Maryland plates (what she’s doing in flyover county, I don’t know), and to top it all off a matched pair of “Obama!” signs in the rear window, all heading to the glitzmall just outside of Columbus.
Which brings me to the title of today’s post, wheel of fortune, not the game show, the original thing.
Our medieval forbears had had no microscopes, telescopes, or scientific apparatus with which to view their world. Their means of putting order to reality consisted of their senses and some well-developed metaphors.
We like to flatter ourselves for our sophistication, and tend to think of the people of previous centuries as dim-witted step children to the greatness which is us. But we came from them, and much of their thought lives on in us unchanged and the wheel of fortune is a powerful representative of that.
What goes up must come down, here today, gone tomorrow, and what goes around comes around. The world works that way, they knew it a thousand years ago, and in our cells we know it today.
So what is going in the mind of my “too cute to care, too blond to die” roadmate, that makes her believe the change part of “Hope and Change” is going to benefit her? What possible adjustment in her cushy upper berth of life is going to make it better? When luck and genes have put you in a place where your biggest worry is missing the exit to the mall, would you roll the dice to see if something better will come along? Does she not know she is at the top of the wheel with nowhere to go but down?
After Mr. Rummel gave just a small glimpse of just how bad some people can be, I shook my head an said, “Sometimes I just don’t understand my species.”
Now more than ever.