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A day in the life, circa November 14, 2019, if there ever were an illustration of the degree to which frustration, anger, and an almost unconditional breakdown of civility, control, and compassion welled up to the top of the heap it was the culmination of events that confronted us all today. So if for other reason than serving as a paean to life in the contemporary world of confusion, stored in a vault, and examined by hopefully a saner society sometime in the future I feel compelled to recount today’s events. Here is one for posterity.

Why Are We All So Angry

Another idyllic weather day in Southern California started out with a cool breeze blowing off the ocean, pushing an early morning high tide with gentle waves rolling to the beach and a bountiful amount of sunshine blessing on-shore residents with the promise of another day in Paradise for those of us lucky enough to live in Malibu.

And then the real world crashed the whole damn thing. As I turned on the television to see what the real world had to offer I was shaken by another school shooting, yes another one, you see future humans this is something we have all learned to deal with, not accept. This one hit close to home, in the San Fernando Valley, ultimately leaving at least, for now, two dead and four wounded.

Kids were merely attending school, beginning of the school day but one day from the end of the school week, I am sure chattering about plans for the weekend, maybe even talking of plans for the upcoming holiday season, just going about their daily routines.

Kids were merely attending school, beginning of the school day but one day from the end of the school week, I am sure chattering about plans for the weekend, maybe even talking of plans for the upcoming holiday season, just going about their daily routines. Whatever excitement may have percolated throughout the school would soon be shattered by the crack of gunfire from a .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun in the hands of a troubled teen who somehow felt that his troubles could only be dealt with by creating tragedy, mayhem, death and the certain long-term trauma that will affect his fellow students for most likely the rest of their lives.

While we continue to struggle with active shooters, school violence, and incredibly short-sighted argumentation over some sense of gun control, in Washington, DC the Senate refuses to even entertain universal background checks on weapons purchases despite the fact that 90 percent of the American people support it. This is insanity demonstrated on a level of unimaginable audacity and seemingly without repercussions.

After a short while, feeling my own sense of sorrow, anger, and compassion for the parents of all those children at Saugus High School, and being a single parent raising two sons who luckily were never subjected to such fear, I resorted to my daily 25-mile bicycle ride along the ocean which serves to help place order in my life while keeping my body in reasonably good shape.

While biking through Venice I was stopped by police directing traffic around a photo shoot for a commercial. The officer was having a difficult time persuading one driver to actually stop and started a conversation with me relaying about how he just doesn’t understand some people. We both talked for about 20 minutes or so as he offered that at 62 he just cannot understand why people are so angry these days.

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He asked me my age, and I told him I was four years older than he was and that I believed that people were angry and frustrated primarily because of the level of income inequality. He agreed and we had a serious conversation being respectful of our different lives but in agreement that today it is harder and harder for people who play by the rules to actually get ahead in life.

I bet we would be on the opposite ends of the political and ideological spectrum on most issues but on this we fully agreed: people just don’t feel that playing by the rules provides sufficient rewards of a comfortable and satisfying life while those who prey on them seem to be rewarded handsomely. We parted acknowledging that the whole concept of a middle class was evaporating and as I pulled away I could not help but smile as he offered that the crux of the problem was the division between the haves and the have-nots. Attaching my ear buds back on as I tooled down Venice Blvd. I could not help but put Pink Floyd’s Us and Them through my ears and used it to generate my ride back home.

During the afternoon I was catching up on the impeachment inquiry that began the day before and will continue for the next several weeks and given my proclivity for the MSNBC echo chamber got a heavy dose of what appears to be mounting evidence that our President spearheaded a scheme to bribe a foreign power (Ukraine) to conduct an investigation of one of his political rivals (Biden) in exchange for Congressionally mandated foreign security assistance. While another of the President’s chief strategists (Roger Stone) appears to be heading to prison and Rudy Guiliani is under Federal criminal investigation.

The actions of the President of the United States not only undermine confidence in our nation from adversaries and allies alike but have life and death consequences. We are living in a country where rule of law, democratic governance, and essential concepts of liberty and freedom are being eviscerated while autocratic tyrants feast at the table of adoration for a barely human narcissistic idiot whose only consideration is advancement of himself. Sorry Don, Jr., Ivanka, Jared, Melania, and Eric, you all are expendable.

So to fill out this day I settled in to watch Thursday night football, a classic rivalry between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns. The game was not terribly exciting but as a lover of football and sports in general I dutifully watched as Cleveland and their home crowd was about to be rewarded with a rare victory over a team which has dominated them for decades.

But with the game in hand, and merely 8 seconds remaining on the clock a scuffle broke out, and quickly elevated into a fight when I, like millions of others, witnessed an act of brutality unlike anything I have ever seen on a football field at any level. A Cleveland player ripped the helmet off the Pittsburgh quarterback and proceeded to slam it over his head. The fact that the QB was not either knocked out or suffered a concussion is remarkable. It could have actually been even worse.

What in the hell is going on in this world of ours? Senseless violence, even when it happens in a game that is essentially refereed violence, is sickening and has no place in a civilized society. I can only hope that the punishment for the offender is severe, he ought to be at the very least suspended for the rest of the season, and if I were football commissioner I would set a real example by prohibiting him from participating in the NFL, period, and impose a lifetime ban. I mean the league has essentially blacklisted Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the national anthem.

Future folks, please marvel at this day in the life treatise. Please learn from it, and please treat it as a lesson from which you will never allow retreat to, no matter what. I feel confident that we will similarly learn from these lessons but so much damage will be done in the process it is hard to be hopeful. I hope in the future the good people ultimately triumph. Unfortunately at this juncture in our development, and I use that term advisedly, it is not the case.

Wall Street Journal

Lance Simmens