Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The more things change...

The sun came up this morning, pretty much as it does every day. Birds flocked to the feeders. Squirrels, both gray and red, drank from the "bird bath." Grass sparkled under a light coating of frost. Despite yesterday's election results, the earth went about its business as it has for a long, long time. That's good. There is much to be thankful for this November.

Autumn sunrise
Autumn sunrise
Photo by J. Harrington

Regular readers probably know that I'm a fan of Ed Abbey's writing, perspective and philosophy. If, this morning, you find yourself in need of encouragement and guidance on how to manage over the next four years, check here. Better yet, head for your local library or independent book store and pick up and read several of Abbey's entire books. His web site has a list (bibliography) to get you started. I can't recommend that you shop at the bookstore on the Abbey site, because it's a front for Amazon and I just can't picture Abbey being happy about that. Instead, try Powell's or your local independent book seller. If part of yesterday's message is that Washington is the problem, we need better local solutions. We'll only have them if we support them.

In addition to Abbey, if you haven't read Rebecca Solnit's Hope in the Dark, it's time has come. I also suggest you take a look at Miriam Horn's Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman, although I've only started to read it, it makes a compelling argument that rural Americans need to be seen as individuals, not as stereotypes or demographic segments. In fact, isn't that something that we all hope for, to be seen as who we are?

Cafe of the Americas mosaic
Cafe of the Americas mosaic
Photo by J. Harrington

When I was growing up, America was often referred to as a "melting pot." I find that description flawed and picture us more as a mosaic, as in a highly diverse eco-system. Terry Tempest Williams builds a mosaic metaphor into her Finding Beauty in a Broken World, another paean to hope. Last night, many (most?) of us were delivered a great surprise. It only becomes a set back or defeat if we allow it to. That's something we can not permit For the Children.

Of History and Hope



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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