On the Street

Today is my daughter Jaime’s birthday. Fresh out of college, she has the world and all its possibilities in front of her. And I have faith that with all her talent, she’s going to find a satisfying path for herself. Like a lot of parents, though, I see some of the stuff that’s going on now and I worry about what kind of world that path will lead her through.

It’s encouraging that examples of reaching one’s potential and even rising to great heights from modest roots exist today despite the efforts of some people to mire us in the old regressive ways.

But those old ways die hard. We move forward, we move back. We see advances in technology, we see declines in the environment. We see advances in medicine, we see limitations on access and tremendous increases in the cost of health care. We see legislation aimed at restricting the destructive influence of political donors and lobbyists, we see politicians continue to decide the future of this country based on who’s lining their pockets. We see more racial and ethnic and religious and gender equality, we see less; we see subtle and not-so-subtle and even institutionalized examples of prejudice in this country and elsewhere. We see scientific advances and discoveries, we see people denying their validity based on the comforting vacuum of ignorance. We see progress in fertility drugs and procedures, we see a planet struggling with the problem of finite resources and overpopulation. We see new theories and techniques and technologies for educating young people, we see our highest dropout rates ever. We see toughened laws and law enforcement, we see countless young people rotting in prison. We see the end to the cold war, we see scores of smaller but more destructive wars and acts of terrorism, costly in every way, spring up to take its place. We study history to ensure we don’t repeat our mistakes over and over, we repeat our mistakes over and over. We even trump up reasons and “evidence” for denying that the history occurred.

Which brings me to my next book, EPITAPH ROAD. As of today, the publication date is less than six months away, and I’m getting excited! The story is inspired (if that’s the appropriate word) in part by fools and buffoons and criminals, by murderers and con artists and exploiters, by cheaters and traitors and ill-intentioned empty headed “leaders,” by bigots and overinflated under-informed talking heads and the mouth-breathers that have followed them and are following them and will continue to follow them if they don’t get sidetracked by enlightenment.

But the story was also inspired by an awareness that good brave people have done good brave things. Selfless folks have worked to make the world smarter, healthier, safer, more equitable. They’re still out there, working. So there is a sense of hope in the story, too, a sense that we as a civilization will be able to figure out a way to make the world a better place.

One way or another.

There are those who will feel the book takes a dystopian view of the direction the world is taking and where it ends up in 2097, the year in which most of the tale takes place, and on at least one level it would be hard to argue with them. But it is fiction. And I prefer to look at the story’s scenario as a possibility rather than a probability for the real world. For sure not a certainty. And with every possibility, other options exist. I don’t write “message” books, but my hope is that readers will not only enjoy the story for its own sake, but also think about those other options.

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