Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Doing What Lies Clearly At Hand


"For last year's words belong to last year's

language. And next years's words await another

voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning."

T.S. Eliot

            It is emblematic of this moment in history; the population of the world is apprehensive, but as humans we have never been so unified as brothers and sisters of the earth; sharing fear, vulnerability in our kinship in mortal coils, hoping for global healing for loved ones, our planet, ourselves and we are  desirous to live into our dreams again.

       We celebrate the passing of a year with as much vigor as has been our custom to welcome a new start. 

        We reflect on the calendar change following a year like no other. We too have been changed.   

by Dylan Thomas

Being but men, we walked into the trees
Afraid, letting our syllables be soft
For fear of waking the rooks,
For fear of coming
Noiselessly into a world of wings and cries.

If we were children we might climb,
Catch the rooks sleeping, and break no twig,
And, after the soft ascent,
Thrust out our heads above the branches
To wonder at the unfailing stars.

Out of confusion, as the way is,
And the wonder, that man knows,
Out of the chaos would come bliss.

That, then, is loveliness, we said,
Children in wonder watching the stars,
Is the aim and the end.

Being but men, we walked into the trees.

          We need more wonder, to be those children watching the stars.

          The night sky here is often pristine and I am indeed filled with wonder at the depth and expanse. I've noticed that speeding meteors do something even more. They change the dimensionality of my view of the cosmos and, like a pandemic year, they erase barriers, norms, and indeed our very sense of normal. They break the constraints that modernity imposes for its own benefit. There is something good about that.
        Once we cede the freedoms of our imagination to the constraints of things like rationality, and when we tuck all mystery into an explanation like "infinity," we change the dance between head and heart. 
        The world is not binary and it comes with a spectrum of color. In the passing year we have been slowed, life has been rearranged, and disruption has taught us a new dance and opened our eyes. 

"You can't use up creativity.
The more you use, the more you have."
Maya Angelou

    How do we see, how do we reflect, what do we think about all that has happened to us? We've had plenty of opportunity to make sense of it, to take stock of our lives and its meaning. 

"Seek patience and passion in equal amounts.
Patience alone will not build the temple.
Passion alone will destroy its walls."
Maya Angelou

    I've grow impatient with our inability to embrace the consequence of our thought and actions. Why do we (the total US-especially the Congress) appear to be so lazy, and without ethical conviction? Why does this nation remind me of the once golden athlete who, now years hence, is the out of shape and belligerent drunk at the end of the bar? Why does good judgement seem impotent? Why are there so many who are easy marks, gullible and willing to believe obvious lies?

"What you see and what you hear depends a great 
deal on where you are standing.
It also depends on what sort of person you are."
CS Lewis

    Diane Ackerman, a poet, says she is an "Earth Ecstatic. My creed is simple: All life is sacred."
    Ackerman says we can improve our behavior toward one another if we remember that. She says it is basic, a kind of tonic and deeply spiritual "glorifying the smallest life-form and embracing the most distant stars."

"There's a terrible hollowness, an emptiness at the core
of society right now that comes from our trying to exile ourselves farther and farther from nature."
Diane Ackerman

    As she says, nature is something that people visit on weekends or vacations. During the pandemic many had no choice but to deny our natural heritage. Working, entertaining,  living through and on our screens, has presented a new kind of alienation.

     This planet lives and our lives depend on its health. But still I know that change is not done with us.

    Millions of us shared the holiday with loved ones, but we could not hug, we could not feel fully alive.  Such is abnormal to us, but not to children. For them, it is the way it is. Their new normal comes more quickly. They have less history by which to measure disruption.

    Adults and children need to end the exile. The planet is full of wonder.

    We used to ask our colleagues to find new ways to drive home and to work, so as to jar themselves out of the complacency of a norm that can rob sensitivity, awareness and appreciation. 
    After a year of pandemic, we need to explore and look for wonder.

    We need to be honest. It is easier for some of us. It is heartbreakingly worse for many of us. 
    The pandemic year has made a few very rich, and hundreds of millions more poor. It is another global fellowship.

"An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest
and most fatal ailment of all republics."

"Wherever there is a great property 
there is a great inequality"
Adam Smith

       2021 will not deliver us. It will be a commencement. 
        All nations will need triage for their economies. People will suffer financially. Governments will respond, either wisely and justly or not. 
        Voters in the US overwhelmingly rejected the leadership of an authoritarian. Authoritarian regimes dot the planet. Millions live with lies. 
         Getting a fix on reality will come in the new year. The tasks are many:
        -affirming facts
        -supporting science
        -demanding the truth
        -restoring professionalism
        -acting with integrity
        -feeding the hungry
        -housing the many
        -putting people to work
        -healing mind and body
        -setting new boundaries of right and wrong, truth or lies
        -being honorable and dependable to those beyond our shores

    And since it is our business as citizens, in the US at least, we can work, demand and hope for women and men in government to act with the character of health care workers. Courage, devotion to duty, service to others.
    We can and should celebrate true heroes.

"Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage."
CS Lewis

       I mark this change encouraged by the increasing number of women, men and women of color, and emigres who fill the screen as medical experts, government officials, new cabinet appointees, relief directors, social workers and people of competence. I am especially encouraged that my grand children are witnessing this, as their new normal.
      There is a new cast emerging and they will likely produce new heroes as they chart us through the new year.

"Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand."
Thomas Carlyle

            Your writer marks this change with a call for rationality and sensibility, in all matters and most specifically in public discourse.
        In the public square we should employ the Socratic method. It allows for spirited debate and fosters understanding. Questions and answers, an argument that is both cooperative and civil. The process itself digs out the truth, exposes underlying factors and, most importantly, the presuppositions.
        We are passing from a time of the great lie. To survive as a democratic republic we must ferret and root out the presuppositions that are making us uncivil, destroying friendships, splitting families and leading us to damage.

"Perseverance...keeps honor bright..."
William Shakespeare
Troilus and Cressida

"...suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Hope does not put us to shame..."

    Wishing you health, happiness and hope.

    See you down the trail.



  1. Well said, Thomas. Hope is needed.

    1. Thanks borrow from the phrase, lets "keep it alive."

  2. In defense of the binary system, you can represent an infinite amount of colors with 2 cents.

    Had to get my geek on. -- Here's to the new year.

  3. Hoping for an excellent 2021 for you, Tom!!!!