Rid­ing with Thelma and Louise

The Covington News - - Opinion - Bar­bara Mor­gan is a Cov­ing­ton res­i­dent with a back­ground in news­pa­per jour­nal­ism, state gov­ern­ment and pol­i­tics.

“It is what it is.” The line may not have been orig­i­nal, but when a char­ac­ter played by Leonard DiCaprio in the movie “Blood Di­a­mond” ut­tered it, it seared it­self into my con­scious­ness. It was one of the “Aha” mo­ments that Oprah has pop­u­lar­ized.

For me, it was when I fi­nally got “it.” Right there in front of me was the an­swer to the unan­swer­able ques­tions and sit­u­a­tions with­out res­o­lu­tion. “It is what it is.” No way around it, un­der it or through it. No ex­cuses. No ex­pla­na­tions. No res­o­lu­tion. No way to change it. No one to blame. No one to fix it. It is what it is, now deal with it. Just deal with it.

In those few words, I dis­cov­ered a way to avoid the con­stant head bang­ing when I just couldn’t make a sit­u­a­tion go away. I might have an­a­lyzed the mess up and down, in and out. I might have looked back in his­tory for the be­gin­nings of the prob­lem. I might have looked for some­one to blame and some­one to make it right. I surely would have looked into what I did to con­trib­ute to the quandary.

Many times in our lives, even many times in a day, we might come slap up against an is­sue, a road­block or a pot­hole that seems in­sur­mount­able. How much time do we waste look­ing for a cause or a con­spir­acy, when the sit­u­a­tion is sim­ply not go­ing to go way? It sim­ply is what it is, and there’s noth­ing left to do but just march through it to the other side.

I would not sug­gest that we try to jus­tify, con­done or ra­tion­al­ize all that brings us to the point of where ac­cep­tance is the only an­swer. Some sit­u­a­tions are more than dis­tress­ing, cruel, to­tally in­ex­pli­ca­ble or logic de­fy­ing, but be­ing so doesn’t mean there’s any choice but to duck our heads and march on, as did what is called “The Great­est Gen­er­a­tion” when they marched through The Great De­pres­sion and then into World War II. There are par­al­lels to­day.

Lo­cally, we’re be­ing pum­meled by soar­ing heat and hu­mid­ity. But for ran­dom thun­der­storms, the heat and drought are killing or di­min­ish­ing crops and stress­ing beef and dairy cat­tle herds. Yet when I visit with the grow­ers and ven­dors of lo­cal pro­duce and prod­ucts on Wed­nes­days at the Clark Street Mar­ket, I sense a re- mark­able re­silience in the face of na­ture’s ob­sta­cles. They say to me that they’re just try­ing to make the best of a bad sit­u­a­tion. Such is the life of a farmer. Ev­ery grow­ing sea­son is a roll of the dice, but there are cer­tain peo­ple who seem to thrive on hard work with­out any prom­ises of a re­turn. For good or ill, the life they’ve cho­sen “is what it is.”

I have to ad­mit, how­ever, that I’m hav­ing a very hard time ap­ply­ing my proven mantra to the sit­u­a­tion sur­round­ing the debt ceil­ing talks in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. I want to rail, scream, cry and throt­tle some­body. I want to blame ev­ery­body. I want to bang some heads to­gether. The ex­pected level of stately dis­course and de­bate that ought to pre­vail in such crit­i­cal sit­u­a­tions has de­volved into noth­ing short of ug­li­ness, dis­re­spect, threats, brinks­man­ship and ide­o­log­i­cal throw­downs more fit for the crowds at Satur­day night wrestling shows. I find it hard to say sto­ically “it is what it is,” and march on when what “it” is, is sim­ply sur­real. The gov­ern­ment is days away from de­fault­ing on its fi­nan­cial obli­ga­tions, and pre­dic­tions by the best and most ex­pe­ri­enced econ­o­mists and aca­demics say the re­sult could throw the world back down the fi­nan­cial hole we’re still claw­ing our way out of. The United States has never be­fore been where we’re head­ing, and much is un­known about the full ex­tent of the ram­i­fi­ca­tions that are dire at best. There are, of course, nut cakes who deny that we’re any­where close to eco­nomic col­lapse on the ba­sis of noth­ing but what they hap­pen to think. I’ll let you fig­ure out to whom I re­fer.

This is not an orig­i­nal thought; it’s only what our moth­ers taught us: A res­o­lu­tion to a sit­u­a­tion must strike a bal­ance be­tween what each side wants. Nei­ther side should get all they want, and both sides need to give on things they be­lieve to be sacro­sanct. (Cu­ri­ously, there ap­pear to be three “sides” in these con­tentious meet­ings.) Bal­ance: some peo­ple need a dic­tio­nary to learn what that word, lit­tle used these days, ac­tu­ally means. Com­pro­mise is not nec­es­sar­ily pretty. If ev­ery­body’s a lit­tle bit ticked off, the so­lu­tion is prob­a­bly a good one. Right now, ev­ery­body’s plenty ticked off but there’s no so­lu­tion in sight. Think Thelma and Louise, and we’re all in that con­vert­ible.

Would a grown-up please show up?

BAR­BARA MOR­GAN COLUM­NIST

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