An Ultra-Practical Guide to Saving the World

Warning: This Doesn’t Have a Happy Ending


When I was little, the world seemed both simple and exotic. In the exotic column were foreign places, foreign races, and war. In the simple column were love, family, and God.

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. If you can’t hear me laughing, imagine Cruella, the reboot.

Mad as hell.

Copyright: ©Disney+/Courtesy Everett Collection

Man, did I have it backward.

As a Gen Xer born in 1975, life was pretty black and white in my tiny, rural town. I couldn’t understand why people struggled, why they fought, why they starved, or why they weren’t educated. They. Them. Not us.

Even though I was on the lower side of the middle class with teenage parents, I felt loved, supported, and wanted. Food wasn’t always healthy, but I never went hungry. Money wasn’t always plentiful, but my needs were met, and many of my wants were too.

My school was a happy place where my friends gathered, I felt safe, and teachers cared despite some bullies and a few rotten eggs. Among many good people, I learned history and grammar, PE and art, math and life skills, and, in social studies, I learned about civil liberties: You have rights, which are yours no matter what, just so long as they don’t infringe on anyone else’s rights.

It seems simple enough.

It didn’t make sense to me as a 5, 7, or 10-year-old why this rule that was so clean and fair wasn’t universal.

I saw the world’s injustices and wondered why they weren’t prevented. There’s more than enough to go around, so why weren’t solvable problems solved?

It’s different. They’re different.

They’ve got nothing else to lose.

I occasionally would watch the news. I almost always read the newspaper. It wasn’t like I was attracted to global or geopolitical issues, but they caught my eye now and again, usually as I passed through the living room on the way to the bathroom if the TV was on.

In the 70s and 80s, I felt an undercurrent of the idea that people are doing the best they can, but some situations are too complex to…



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