Phillip Meyer

What Happens When All of Your Options Are Bad?

Where is the line between morality and immorality? Are we moral only because we can be? From the safety, security and stability of having a roof over our heads and enough of the things we want and need it seems easy to be moral. How long would your morality last if those things begin to disappear?

American Rust.jpgI grew up in a small, rural, blue-collar  town. I went to school with the children of plumbers, electricians, tradesmen, factory workers and farmers. (Mine was a mechanic, of sorts).

When I was about 10 years old a lot of the factories in town started to close. Our street used to be backed up with cars coming and going from the factory, three times a day at shift changes, before they closed. I remember conversation’s overheard sitting around my Dad’s auto repair shop of tough times and empty pockets. It is no longer like that, but for about a decade or so, things were touch and go for many of the families I knew.

American Rust is about an area in Pennsylvania that experienced a total loss of everything that provided stability and prosperity for the region. Like so many places over the last 30 or 40 years a whole industry vanished; in this case it was steel. Anyone who could leave did; everyone else stayed and tried to make the best of what was left of there shattered lives.

This book digs deep into the heart of the people who remain and begs the question: What happens to you when desperation and survival become greater than your morality? Is morality a luxury of those who have enough. And are you wrong or evil when you push the boundaries for the sake of your own survival? These are questions we should all ask ourselves, and attempt to answer, before finding out the hard way.

Unfortunately, for some, there are no happy endings. The challenges of this life are too great and the scars too deep. This book shows us this truth. I’m not sure why, but I appreciate this dose of reality. We all hope for the best and are pummeled by disappointment. A stoic mind is, perhaps, better suited for the world we live in.

“True happiness is to understand our duties toward God and man; to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence on the future; not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears, but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is abundantly sufficient.” – Seneca

Happiness= Accepting YOUR reality. What is. Stop expecting, hoping, wishing, dreaming and fantasizing. Be here, now. Be grateful.

I am old enough to have seen good (and bad) times come and go. It is never the end (as so many may shout), but instead a reminder that nothing lasts (good or bad) and we must persist.

While a story such as this is sad. The true sadness is in the defeat felt my the main characters. This is true in the real world. All around us are the defeated, those who have given up and made a friend of misery and sorrow. They do not understand that times change; to survive (and thrive) we must also change – constantly. Never cease! For if we do, surely we will be lost in the grind of a shifting culture. You must keep fighting. Take this story as a reminder of what happens if you don’t.

Be Strong. Stay Hungry. Walk Tall.