Mind the gap

We’ve been absent from blogging for a long time and it weighs heavily on us both. The truth is, we’re in a funk and have been for more than half a year. It has nothing to do with cruising, the boat, Australia, our health and wellbeing or any other personal issue, but rather the ever more disturbing and mind-numbing news we hear out of America. 

Jack and I have always been news junkies and like to keep up with what’s going on in the world and being in a first world country with good internet access means we can read online the daily newspapers we’re familiar with along with our favorite weekly news magazines. In a way we’re grateful we don’t have American TV because the constant barrage of “breaking news” would be far too stressful. 

We know lots of people who disengage while cruising, and happily ignore domestic and world events in favor of a life lived in the here and now. In a way I admire those people and envy their zen bliss. We are not those people and the news from the other side of the world makes us sad. 

Maybe it’s because we grew up in the 1950s when patriotism and love of country reached their apex, when Cold War rhetoric drew a stark contrast between the democratic West and the communist East. Maybe it’s because we always thought of our country as the center of freedom and promise and compassion and refuge for the rest of the world. Maybe it’s because we’re proud of our system of government and how built-in checks and balances prevent any attempt at tyranny from succeeding. 

More personally for Jack and me, even growing up hundreds of miles apart in different cities, was a fascination and deep pride in America’s technological leadership, in the image of a future where discovery and science would make our lives safer, easier, healthier and more colorful. We can still feel the thrill of watching the flights of Alan Shepherd and then John Glenn prove that space travel was possible. The Jetsons was must-see TV. We learned on the evening news about flight trajectories, insulating materials, solar panels, space-age adhesives, and escape velocity. It all seemed fantastical and still does. What’s more, that was our country. Our universities and government recruited the best minds and provided whatever they needed to solve problems and make discoveries. Scientists and engineers were admired, respected, revered. We were the world leaders in scientific discovery and we were so proud. America took giant leaps for mankind, not just on the moon but in medicine, energy, biology, computer science. 

That is how we grew up thinking about our country, as a jet engine of advancement, tackling the world’s problems through education and invention. 

Now it’s clear that we have ceded our leadership in the world to other, more forward-thinking countries. Our scientists are scoffed at, ignored, defunded, or left to work in service of corporate profit instead of public good. We personally know many scientists who spent more than a decade acquiring their specialized education only to abandon their fields because funding only comes through decreasingly available grant money with too many strings attached. These are the best minds we have, now given little or no respect and no latitude for discovery. Our pharmaceutical labs and medical facilities are profit centers, where potential life-saving drugs or techniques aren’t pursued if someone can’t get rich on them. 

We continue to pollute the environment while other countries make policies to protect it. We ignore or suppress renewable energy sources and cling to the mining and burning of fossil fuels that scar the earth and poison the air, all so a few companies can pocket hideous profits. Our leaders denigrate advanced education and paint those who pursue knowledge as “elites.” This is particularly galling to me as the daughter of a woman who worked her way through college during the Great Depression so she could serve her community by becoming a teacher. My mother was not “elite” in any sense of the word, but she fulfilled the responsibility of American citizenship by becoming the best she could be and guiding younger generations through education. In the Sixties we took John Kennedy’s challenge to heart: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” We felt a duty to “make something of ourselves” and contribute to the greater good.

Now we read almost daily of too many citizens who expect their government to do for them. Coal miners, for example, who lost their jobs because of automation and lower demand refuse to see the writing on the wall and move forward into new industries, insisting instead that the government “bring their jobs back.” They’ve been offered training in renewable energy technologies or other fields but won’t take advantage of it because it means doing something different. I guess it’s easier to complain and blame someone else for a changing world than to roll up your sleeves and adapt.

Our city of Pittsburgh is a perfect role model for them, where the century-old steel industry declined and after a period of political protests the steelworkers buckled down and retrained as nurses, lab technicians, computer programmers. Pittsburgh went from being the quintessential industrial Smoky City to an environmentally and technologically advanced city of the future. Instead of learning from Pittsburgh, too many people trapped in 19th and 20th century ways of thinking want our government to turn back time and coddle them with empty promises and special privilege. 

Life moves forward at a pretty fast pace and sometimes it’s hard to keep up. But our best and brightest can guide us on our path to the future if only we would let them. It’s a sad state of affairs when the leader of another country offers refuge and resources to American scientists because our own country won’t support and respect their work. This news was a particular gut punch for Jack and me, a humiliating confirmation that our country has completed its move to the dark side, where scientific pursuit is only supported if it results in corporate profit. The good of mankind and the health of the planet we all share is no longer a factor in political decisions. It makes us sad and plunged us into a deep funk. 

Our cruising friends from countries all over the world are astonished at the complete lack of political will to create a system of universal healthcare enjoyed by every other developed country. Why, they ask, do Americans not care about each other? They share our disappointment that America, once a beacon of hope and inspiration, has abandoned its leadership role in human rights, environmental protection and world peace. The image of America abroad is now of greed, arrogance, xenophobia, hate. We aren’t making this up. We’re confronted with it almost daily. It’s been a long time coming, but the final nails are hammered home. 

We’re still cruising. We still love our life afloat. We’re still taking beautiful photos of the places we see and the experiences we have. We’re still welcomed wherever we go. I only wanted to take a stab at explaining our absence from day-to-day blogging. We promise to renew our effort to share our travels. We have a lot to catch up on and we’ll post as we can. It may be all mixed up chronologically but we’ll slot things into date order. I hope you’ll stay with us. Thanks for reading. 


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21 Responses to Mind the gap

  1. nrstrife

    Beautifully written as usual. We here in the US are feeling the same, every day. I am brokenhearted for my country.

  2. Mary and Criag

    We’re on the same page w you. It’s even harder watching it all happen in-country. For my own sanity I’ve HAD to stop being news junkie. Terrible depression. There is no middle ground now, even among friends. Two distinct sides. Just a daily three ring circus — and it’s all an ideological game now to politicians, instead of doing what they were sent to DC to do, represent their constituents’ needs. Same swamp, different meaner gators in it now. Keep posting, we’ve missed th stories,

  3. elizabeth mehrtens

    I so appreciate your perspective and am happy to know you are both okay. I have read your blog for several years and look forward to it as an escape from this darkness we are currently experiencing. I have been wondering about ya’ll so was happy to receive this update and explanation, No need to go into how much I agree with your perspective just a big thanks. Know that your blogging maybe helping those of us stuck here on the toxic soil escape if even for a few minutes.
    Peace, Lizzie

  4. Gypsy

    I, too, echo your sentiments. I grew up in the 60’s and early 70’s. Peace and love. Where did that go? Cruised Carib in 2008-2009 and even then didn’t want to admit to being a US citizen. I just have to believe that out of this chaos something good will come of it for ALL life on this planet.

  5. Peter Fynn

    Thank you so much for this blog. With your permission I am going to share it on my Facebook page as you have written so succinctly about what is happening here in the USA.
    I read all your posts and enjoy them immensely. Your loss of the mast and waiting for replacement was an amazing story. You should take your blogs and make a book out of them. It would make a bit for the cruising kitty!

    Sorry I don’t post replies. I should as it would help buck you up.

    Rest assured that there are thousands of people who are shattered by what is happening here. I confess that I thought that the Electoral College was put in place to stop such a thing from happening, but clearly it does not work.

    I have a favourite saying: “You may not believe it, but that does not mean that it is not true”.

    Take care and safe travels,

    • Share away. Nice to know we’re not alone.

      • Oh no, not alone by any means! We’re newcomers to your blog, but I’m touched and impressed by your words, your impressions, your heart-felt dismay at the decay of our once oh-so-promising nation. Cruise on, live life well, and do good. It’s all we can do right now.

    • Susan Ohanlon Capenos

      I am saddened by the lack of empathy shown in our beautiful country. As a healthcare provide, am aware of the some of the needs in our community. Volunteerism cannot fill those holes. Our plan D is a farce. Medicaid expansion is a must. RESISTANCE IS PATRIOTIC
      I hope to see 2020
      Your photos bring beauty and joy to so many.

  6. Hi Marcie and Jack,
    Wow. Wonderfully written. It’s sad to me how many family and friends have become depressed or moved into a funk. Although I agree with so many of your sentiments, I continue to look at all the positives in our country. For everyone ry bad, there are so many “goods”. And the humanity of many never ceases to amaze me.
    These times have resulted in our citizenship becoming involved in our political process. People who never understood even basic workings now see how things can change in politics. I do believe that our system will evolve, and our parties will undergo change because of the last election. I also believe no one person can actually change the country to be so much worse or better. That’s why we have checks and balances. So whether Trunp, the democratic leadership or republican leadership want something, our system helps ensure radical changes are not implemented.

    Our new media has created a terrible reflection on this country no matter what part of the administration you support or don’t support.

    Keep your heads up, continue to be proud, and continue to do good on your incredible adventure. Monica and I continue to hope to follow in some of your footsteps and look forward to meeting more members of our Manta family when we finally take off.

    You are inspirations. Don’t lose the faith or fire. Keep winning over adversity.



  7. Marylyn grossman

    I have been waiting for your comments on our political situation. I miss going to bed worry free knowing my country is on the watch. Now the fear creeps into my subconscious and roars it ugly head. Take care and love u. Mar & Jeff

  8. Jane DiCola

    I concur, sadly. When I moved to the VI 27 years ago, it was to reach for the stars (and stripes); and all inspired by my sailor, Ron. All across the world, persons “bought, desired & believed in the American Dream – phenomenal PR/good faith around the world. People were inspired — all the way back to the founding fathers, the constitution, as foreigners understand it (broad strokes). And certainly, the world looked upon this melting pot with a firm belief that the science, engineering, innovation, human capital, and sensibility of the American people was a power for building community, wealth, and for good in the world — beliefs that continue to inspire millions to seek asylum in the promised land of the brave and the free. And many of us live in that land. Im grateful. But millions do not: Native Americans and the marginalized — whose numbers have catapulted well beyond what is sustainable. And I’m convinced this is the natural outcome of it all. Ten years ago, on a trip back home, I was bombarded with questions, delivered with incredulous, even outright hostility, about my choice to live in a country where violence was an accepted norm; where climate change was considered an annoying “movement,” where human rights sounded good, but often reserved for the chosen one’s – many, with deep pockets. They could not understand how we “worship” & richly reward supposed sports/entertainment/reality stars as “heroes” & entirely disregard the real one’s – doing extraordinary work/service for the good of others; and in a “rich nation,” they could not wrap their heads around the fact that millions of US children don’t know where the next meal is coming from, and whether they can get to/stay in school safely – if even affordable. People will rise. And they’ll rise in fury, anger and desperation with the 1% parading their swag. When Barak won his second term, I wrote him a letter — about how disillusioned I’d become as a recent American. The brilliant and very disturbing documentary – “Requiem for the American Dream” (Netflix if you can stand to watch it), provided perspective, and revealed a disturbing, shocking history of intent, going back to the founding fathers. And the rest of the world continued to implode. And then came D.T. Good God!!!!
    We are now tasked with figuring out how we can live, love and BE in this disturbing reality here and around the world.
    (An update: SA is no place to go home to now. Junk bond status; Violent crime continues to rise; Africans were promised (of course), but have not received much of an improved existence: electricity, housing — out of the shanty towns — lawless, frightening swaths of poverty, desperation. 5 wives and the richest man in the southern region of Africa takes a lot of money to keep the show going; and according to my peeps, no good man or woman is waiting in the wings, poised to lead). I say, live in the present moment in your world. Nourish your souls as best you can. The exquisite, fragile beauty of our world is boundless for you if you practice staying right here, right now, as our old friend, Ram Das says. Out of this may come a great conscious arising. Namaste.

  9. stuart collier

    Been following for sometime but never felt the need to reply until now. You nailed how I feel. I cannot even talk to friends anymore as what is happening because it all to often devolves into taking sides and no one listening.

    All the best,


  10. dr.demento

    easy to say from where you are in life. when all industrialization has been placed off shore for decades to sweatshops abroad enslaving those populations where there is no “automation”. jobs are not replaced with automation it is replaced with slave labor,…it is far easier than investing in expensive machinery that breaks down,…ask yourself how is the apex of tech consumer products made….an iphone manufactured by hand at foxconn in china. while these emerging 3rd world markets are undercutting labor prices worldwide the western governments use none of there power to save jobs or curtail pollution on these countries,….china pollutes 30 times more than the u.s. has done in the whole of the 18th and 19th century. so ask yourself wouldn’t you rather have those jobs in the western world so they can be regulated more to lessen pollution,….peace.

  11. Bruce Leonard Bly

    not to minimize the size and scope of “our” problem, but… ditto.

  12. nancy smith

    We will still come out ahead as a country, which means all have to comment to their representatives about their desire for health care and ask Trump to take a hike while he’s at it! Good to hear your thoughts!

    love, Me

  13. georgeheidekat

    Hunker down and keep writing.

  14. Diana and Alex

    So….your funk continues, with good reason. You’re heartbroken. Furious. Impotent, to a point. I understand why you don’t and can’t tune out (as I probably would) but take the kayaks for a turn around the mangroves, or throw the boat over another treacherous river bar. Don’t let every day’s Trumped-up news tear apart your soul. You got escape velocity, remember? And the reef won’t be with us always, for reasons you explain so well (we’re guilty as hell here too). But what wouldn’t this old washed-up sailor give to go snorkelling with you and Jack again….
    love Diana

  15. Well said; we’re feeling much of the same in our travels. I’ve been just as not into blogging as well. I’ve been…off…dramatically so, since the election. Writing has suffered on all fronts as I try not to be glued to the “NOW what just happened?” news feeds from home (damn you, Twitter!).

    That being said…we’ve passed by your boat too many times without connecting! It seems you weren’t there, or we were in a hurry, or you were just getting off to go…but for some reason we’ve been anchored near each other way too many times without catching up! (Opua, Blackwattle Bay, Pittwater…)

    Next time you’re getting a knock on the hull, or pop by Evenstar and say hi if you see us; we always love to meet other yanks. I suspect we’d all enjoy the discussion and contact with some folks who are in the same place about what is happening back home.

    Coomera, Gold Coast right now…neck deep in LiFePO4!

  16. Nargis Kheraj

    I live in Canada, but was born in a “third world country”. I watch, with pain, what is happening to your country. The mental anguish that people have to deal with is so much more than any people living anywhere else (except, of course, in war zones!). Why have American citizens allowed corporate greed and government compliance with big business to ruin their lives? It is because most people are complacent and content with the idea that they live in the “best” country in the world, but do not take the time to look around themselves and see what their country has become!

  17. Davy Ceet

    The West fell long ago. The post-war years were an elaborate Hollywood production designed to distract and deceive. The Anglo-American Empire now turns its eye to the East, for all out war it will eventually lose. Russia and China are well rested, full of new wealth and technology. But most importantly, still have a sense of honor. They are us in 1938.

    You two are exactly where I want to be over the next dozen years: Sailing the deep blue seas with the one I love, bearing witness to the greatest power transfer in human history.

    (though maybe not around South China Seas or Strait of Hormuz)

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