Sunday, January 1, 2017

We have all been here before!

Here we are at the start of a brand new year, anticipating the inauguration of a new administration in Washington, D.C. Where we are, the day started with sunshine which, given its recent rarity, I'm taking as a good omen for the upcoming year.

cairns often serve as trail markers
cairns often serve as trail markers
Photo by J. Harrington

Based on recent readings, I've developed a strong and growing sense of déjà vu. Maria Popova's Brain Pickings brings us this New Year's Perspective from 75 years ago:
Steinbeck writes on January 1, 1941:
"Speaking of the happy new year, I wonder if any year ever had less chance of being happy. It’s as though the whole race were indulging in a kind of species introversion — as though we looked inward on our neuroses. And the thing we see isn’t very pretty… So we go into this happy new year, knowing that our species has learned nothing, can, as a race, learn nothing — that the experience of ten thousand years has made no impression on the instincts of the million years that preceded."
If you followed the link, you saw that Steinbeck continues with subtle, hopeful observations that are worth keeping in mind as we approach January 20, 2017.

Back at our local, independent book store yesterday, I gave myself some belated Christmas presents, among which was a copy of Leonard Cohen's STRANGER MUSIC. There I found, from The Energy of Slaves, published in 1972, almost 50 years ago, today's poem. It's another observation to keep in mind for the next 4 years, and thereafter.

I find it more than mildly encouraging that humans have gone through irrational, destructive regimes before, before only to eventually end up with 8 years of a leader like Barack Obama. In addition to resisting what we find unacceptable, we need to do more to let our "leaders" know what we do want. They need all the help we can give them with both sides of that equation.


by Leonard Cohen

Any system you contrive without us
will be brought down
We warned you before
and nothing that you built has stood
Hear it as you lean over your blueprint
Hear it as you roll up your sleeve
Hear it once again
Any system you contrive without us
will be brought down
You have your drugs
You have your guns
You have your Pyramids your Pentagons
With all your grass and bullets
you cannot hunt us anymore
All that we disclose of ourselves forever
is this warning
Nothing that you built has stood
Any system you contrive without us
will be brought down

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Please be kind to each other while you can.