The picture, “That Night in Saqqara,” is about youth and age, life and death. One of the things I intend to discuss as a change is the way my life has tilted on the scale of life and death. The weights are health problems, environmental problems, and social problems. And all of those weights seem to go on the death plate of the scale.
My scale has arthritis, diabetes, high risk of heart attack or stroke, and diabetic depression on the death plate. By contrast, the pharoah above only had advanced age and death prior to the picture on his death plate. Of course, the fact that he’s already dead should be a heavier weight than any of mine. But obviously the pharoah also has mummy-necromantic magic working in his favor on the life plate of the scale. And me, being now a serious Christian Existentialist (an atheist who believes in God,) I can’t even claim a faith in some mythical afterlife where I will have wings and a harp and can be a nudist all I want since many artists have depicted angels as nudists.
But the boy in the picture is faced with the same weight imbalance as both me and the pharoah. He has youth and health and a brass ahnk necklace that symbolizes life on his life plate. But if he’s alive today, his prospects for life are skewed too. Climate change may cause his death from heat or storms at almost any point between now and the climate Armeggeddon that the Koch Brothers have been nurturing with their fossil-fuels-carbon emissions in order to score higher profits before everybody on earth dies (something that won’t affect their lives since they both plan on being dead before it happens. One of them is already dead.).
And, of course, in the United States generally, and Texas especially, there is the whole gun-rights debate that loads massive lead weights on the death plates of young and old alike. After the Newtown and Uvalde shootings (excuse me… 15-minute break for weeping… I spent 31 years being a teacher) not even elementary-school classrooms are safe places for children.
This, of course, is a very significant change in the way the world is. More than half of my teaching career occurred before the Columbine school shooting. Before that point we had no plan for dealing with an active shooter on campus. Afterwards we discussed, changed policies and procedures, and practiced what we were supposed to do… lockdowns, hiding kids, keeping them silent in the dark… and deciding for ourselves, “They will not kill my students until after I am already dead.”
So, what are the current changes I am bemoaning in this post?
I am currently closer in fate and time to the pharoah rather than the ahnk-wearing boy. I will not be around for more than another decade at the most. But I am not alone being under threat.
The world is ending in flames and hurricanes because of greedy people valuing their wealth over everybody’s lives, I hope you all live long after I am gone myself. But I have doubts about how long we collectively have.
And politics and gun-culture have grown toxic. We could be ended by a bullet at any time, in any place. And it is a scary thing that we have no power over that at present.
As always, I prepare for the worst, and I then hope and pray it doesn’t happen that way.