Driving through Adrian today, about 45 degrees with a low gray ceiling and plenty of drizzle. It’s the county seat in an agricultural region, where manufacturing jobs used to pay the bills alongside monoculture cropping and its federal subsidies. The jobs are gone now and the ag companies pay the farmers roughly what they’d make managing a McDonalds (since the work is very similar, just enforcing a taylorized instruction booklet). Lots of people here are sick. Diabetes, heart attacks and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are plagues; the average diet is pure shit, the favorite pastime is drinking, and there is – behind the zombie-like movements of people who thrive on something far less calorie dense than hope – a sense of silent panic just under the skin of things. Nothing anyone says they will do about things seems to work when they do it; and most of the other ideas about what to do seem equally implausible. No one believes the experts anymore, which has left them with nothing to believe in at all. The experts have long taught us not to believe in ourselves and our communities.
I know we are not alone. Other towns are whistling through this graveyard, too.
Passed the people who walk, rain or shine or snow. Street people, poor people, mentally ill people, people who live in various kinds of group homes. They are walking in the rain today. Lots of them are old. Lots of old people with grim faces peer from front doors and porches. The old with nothing left to do, watch. They remind us of death; so we teach ourselves how to ignore them. The young people with nothing to do are young people. They want to be noticed, as all young people do. If we ignore them long enough, they will do things that we can’t ignore. Young people with nothing to do and something less calorie dense than hope to thrive on will put their hands on you if necessary to make you pay attention to them. By and by.
I wonder if anyone has done an age demographic of our crisis. Wonder what it would tell us.