Sunday, August 10, 2014

Rest in Peace. Never Fear, Hope Springs Eternal.

(Today's posting is brought to you by the editorial we.)
Within the past few days, we've been saddened to learn that Natureblog Network, a web site to which My Minnesota belonged, "may be broken beyond repair." It was an enjoyable and worthwhile resource. We wish them well and hope for their speedy recovery, no matter how unlikely. As a restorative for our dismay at their apparent demise, we went to Tomdispatch to reread Rebecca Solnit's Acts of Hope  Challenging Empire on the World Stage. Our read is that she does a phenomenal job of making the case for hope not just for the outcome of a situation but as as a way of life to provide an alternative to despair and the death of the soul. That works for me.

We observed another demise this week, this one permanent and irremediable. The bodies of two young geese, presumably the two resting in the road, were on the road, on their backs, wings outspread, lifeless. We hope that it was someone just not paying attention and seeing them in time rather than some idiot in two much of a hurry to slow down and swing around, or, even worse, a hotshot proving "how well he (or she) can drive by hitting a live but unmoving target." We are the best of kinds, we are the worst of kinds.

geese resting on and near the road
geese resting on and near the road
Photo by J. Harrington
Miller Williams' poetry nicely echoes Rebecca Solnit's prose, don't you think?

Of History and Hope

By Miller Williams 
We have memorized America,
how it was born and who we have been and where.   
In ceremonies and silence we say the words,   
telling the stories, singing the old songs.
We like the places they take us. Mostly we do.   
The great and all the anonymous dead are there.   
We know the sound of all the sounds we brought.   
The rich taste of it is on our tongues.
But where are we going to be, and why, and who?   
The disenfranchised dead want to know.
We mean to be the people we meant to be,   
to keep on going where we meant to go.

But how do we fashion the future? Who can say how
except in the minds of those who will call it Now?
The children. The children. And how does our garden grow?   
With waving hands—oh, rarely in a row—
and flowering faces. And brambles, that we can no longer allow.

Who were many people coming together
cannot become one people falling apart.
Who dreamed for every child an even chance
cannot let luck alone turn doorknobs or not.
Whose law was never so much of the hand as the head   
cannot let chaos make its way to the heart.
Who have seen learning struggle from teacher to child   
cannot let ignorance spread itself like rot.
We know what we have done and what we have said,   
and how we have grown, degree by slow degree,   
believing ourselves toward all we have tried to become—
just and compassionate, equal, able, and free.

All this in the hands of children, eyes already set   
on a land we never can visit—it isn’t there yet—
but looking through their eyes, we can see   
what our long gift to them may come to be.   
If we can truly remember, they will not forget.


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