It was all very careless and confused. They were careless people, Tom and Daisy–they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.
I’ve finished re-reading The Great Gatsby for my American Literature discussion group, and my first thought is that some people lead very sad and empty lives. Hunter S. Thompson, inventor of “gonzo journalism,” shot himself on Sunday. Somehow, even though I don’t know too much about Thompson, this apparent suicide seems to fit in with Gatsby and Tom and Nick and Daisy and the lives of, not quiet, but rather loud desperation they all led.
Unfortunately, I see a lot of carelessness in our society. People carelessly have abortions or get divorces or hop from relationship to relationship leaving mayhem and confusion behind them. They carelessly retreat into drugs or alcohol or they commit suicide, leaving others to mop up their mess.
Of course, some people, like Gatsby, care tremendously. But they care about the wrong things. Gatsby thought he could find meaning in Daisy, but the green light at the end of her dock that became an object of worship for him was really a mirage. Daisy herself was a siren, not a goddess, and she had nothing to give except disilusionment and death.
The kicker is that we’re all desperate: we’re either desperately lost in sin and idolatry and ultimately despair, or we’re desperately dependent upon the Only One who can save us and mop up our messes and redeem our carelessness. And where our desperation finds an end matters not only to each of us but also to those whom our lives touch.