Australia is burning and more than a billion innocent creatures are dead.

Puerto Rico, an American territory, is reeling from earthquakes when they still haven’t recovered from hurricane damage.

A volcano is erupting in the Philippines.

Tornadoes are ripping through neighboring states, killing people in their homes.

That’s just a small sample of the things that are going on as I write this, with the windows open at 8:30 on a Monday evening, listening to the sound of the frogs singing.

In January.

It’s 2020, the third decade of this “new century” and what a brave new world it is.

We are on the brink of war with more than one nation and we have a president who is tweeting up a storm saying all manner of outrageous and dangerous things. And by the way, does he ever sleep?

I wish we were doing more to help those in need. I’d rather see my tax money go to humanitarian causes at home and abroad than to a bunch of steel slats.

But hey, the economy is good and the “409Ks” (according to our president) are doing well.

Somehow the whole “the economy is great” thing is passing my husband and I by. I have two jobs (for which I am most grateful) and my husband, at almost 62, works six days a week most weeks. And there won’t be much of a tax refund again this year for us to get a little bit ahead with. In fact, if it goes like last year, I may be writing a check to the state. But, I’m getting a few extra dollars a week in my paycheck, or so they say, so I guess that’s something.

I just wish I didn’t have to base my healthcare on what my insurance will and will not pay for. If our country is doing so well, why is it that the number of uninsured or under-insured has gone up? No one in this country should die for not being able to access affordable medical care or the medications that they need. That is just unacceptable.

And here’s the thing about those 401Ks, that money can blow out of those accounts like so much chaff on the wind if things take a bad turn.

Speaking of bad turns, remember 2008? A lot of people lost a lot of money in a flash. Everybody was building, businesses were booming and new subdivisions were popping up everywhere….until they weren’t. Madison County was in the middle of an argument between those who wanted to welcome all the businesses and new homes that were barreling our way and those who wanted to see us remain rural and a farming community.

The latter half won, by default. At some point, the bubble pops.

Right now business is cropping up just south of our county’s border and we’ve likely missed the retail boat at least for the foreseeable future. What we haven’t missed is being the bedroom community for all those jobs that are not here in our county.

And the one big piece of big business news in our county is causing a great deal of angst among its neighbors in and around Colbert who fear they will have to pay the price for the county’s increased tax base with their health and an end to their way of life.

Brave new world indeed.

I don’t have any answers but I do know that I am not happy with the status quo.

I want some peace and I want some quiet.

I want our country to settle down and work to regain the confidence of our allies who have fought and died with us in times past. I want the hateful rhetoric of “us vs. them” to stop.

I want to go a day, or even two, without hearing or reading about some stupid or dangerous tweet by the leader of the free world.

I want people to be kind to each other and to the creatures who share our world. I want us to realize how important it is for us (humanity) to take our role as caretakers of our home (the earth) seriously. And I am very much including myself in that statement.

We have so much that we value so little. There’s a price to pay for our complacency and that bill is coming due even as I write this.

The really sad thing is it’s going to have to hurt most of us personally before we really get it.

I think some of my friends and neighbors in Colbert would agree with me right now as they struggle to get a breath of fresh air and worry about the water in their wells. For them, it’s become very personal and I hurt for them.

If it seems like I am rambling, it’s because I am. There are so many things that are so serious and so dangerous right now and it’s a lot easier to just ignore it all and read about the Kardashian family and/or worry about what Harry and Megan are going to do next.

You know I get that too but I guess I am just not made that way.

And so I pray.

I am also working on me, because I am all that I can control. I want to see more kindness and honesty, so I am trying to be kinder and more honest. I am deciding every day who I am and who I am not, what I will stand for and what I will stand against.

This brave new decade needs some calm steadying hands and cooler heads to prevail. I hope and pray for that most of all every single day.

Margie Richards is a reporter and office manager for The Madison County Journal. She can be reached at margie@mainstreetnews.com.

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