Dropping In

There is a euphoric sense of freedom the moment a skier, standing on the precipice of a mountain, leans the tips of his skis ever so slightly downward to initiate descent, allowing both body and spirit to embrace gravity’s deliverance from stasis. The movements that follow—the intentional and gentle shifting weight and balance ballet that ensues—produces a harmonic flow of splendor that feels as if you are seamlessly connected to both heaven and earth; as if your skis have become wings. These moments of connectivity with nature offer the magnificence of pure bliss.

Today, the bliss of dropping in is just a cherished memory. Today, the precipice seems more like a ledge with nothing but the peril of loss waiting below. And yet, drop in we must. Yes, there may be pain and loss and plenty of stress, but remaining on the ledge addled by rumination is no way to live.  As my friend, Roger Cohen, of The New York Times argued, “there is no way out but through.”

Getting “through” requires a full heart and a clear mind, but we humans have a spectacular capacity to compromise both. We prefer the comfort of ignorance to the challenge of truth.  We crave delusional affirmation when what we need is the clarity of reckoning. We stubbornly remain fixed on chosen pathways even while the stress of mounting anxiety is itself screaming in our ear: Hello! Change course! You are headed off a cliff!  Psychosis wraps its tentacles around our ankles as we wonder why our gait becomes staggered. The result is a malaise of disorientation—born of magical thinking—that leaves us whipsawed between exuberance and depression.

In the coming weeks, now that the campaign starting gun of Labor Day has passed, we will be subject to a barrage of deceits and distractions aimed at keeping the pot of disorientation at a roiling boil. Some of us will be tempted to reach up for the ledge to scramble back to safety. Others will bury their heads in the sand.  However, this is not the time for retreat or apathy.  If we want to get back on the precipice, aiming our skis toward bliss, we must defeat those intent on crushing the soul of this country. We must fight for truth and honor and dignity. As Abraham Lincoln implored, “We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth.”

More than any time in history, your vote and the votes of your friends and family must be cast, regardless of the many efforts made to confuse you and deter you from doing so. You are not being asked to put your life at risk, as prior generations were. Do your civic duty. Just vote, damn it, VOTE.

By |2020-09-08T15:04:01+00:00September 8th, 2020|Current, General, Recent|0 Comments

Darkest Before the Dawn

In the midst of the grip of the dog days of summer, it seems odd to write about darkness, but the news of the day provides little, if any, rays of light.  Even in the West, what sun there is has become shrouded by a season of smoke from raging wildfires—a climate-change reality that has become an unsolicited summer norm.

Mid-August 2020 may be remembered as the moment we began our descent into a seemingly bottomless inkwell of darkness.  Between a botched Covid-19 response, rampant civil and economic injustice, violence, suicide, and murder escalating across the country at astounding rates, a climate that threatens to consume us, and national leadership drowning in its selfishness and incompetence, it feels like layer upon layer of tribulation may suffocate any light of hope to rescue us from overwhelming uncertainty and peril.  Heading into a hidey-hole like a stunned groundhog in February sounds nearly inviting.  Or, as Michelle Obama suggested, when they go low, just stay high, America!  (I may not have gotten that exactly right.)

And yet, as the English theologian, Thomas Fuller, suggested in 1650, “it is always darkest just before the day dawneth.”  The proverbial sun will rise again.  I promise.

We must also remember that America has been here before.  Not exactly here of course, but in similar dire straits.  That edge of fire that breaks the horizon that expands to overtake darkness will, eventually, lead us out of our current crisis.

After the improvident period of idealism that granted easement to the charlatans and grifters of the middle 19th century, we endured a Civil War that nearly ended the American experiment of a democratic republic.  Yes, it could have ended America, but it didn’t.  We went on to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and create the land of opportunity that doubled our population due to a mass influx of immigrants that quite literally filled America with life and hope.

Following the avarice of the next period of idealism—the Roaring Twenties—that ended with a stock market crash that launched the Great Depression and allowed fascism and evil to sweep Europe and much of Asia during World War II, America once again found the light of hope to ascend on the world stage, this time as a superpower.

The current crisis—the Age of Deceit—marked by the War on Terror, the Great Recession, a 100-year pandemic and a president who is, himself, the existential threat to the republic, was born from the third period of idealism (1980 – 2003) where, once again, affluence twisted our collective character into a braided whip of narcissism, entitlement, and hubris.  A whip we have turned against ourselves with remarkable vehemence.  As with all crises in our history, this one is self-inflicted.  Which also means—through humility and will power—we can transcend it.

We are nearing the end of the current crisis.  How do I know? Because it is time.  American crises (and this is our fourth) last 15 to 20 years.  We are in year 17 of the Age of Deceit.  I expect 2021 will be a race toward renewal; that is, if we are successful in, among other things, affecting a wholesale cleanout of our national leadership.  We need a Washington, Grant, or Eisenhower to deliver us from crisis.  What follows next, if American history rhymes, is a period of objectivism to succeed crisis, which are historically marked by realism, rationalism, and humanism. And, for Baby Boomers, maybe even one last shot at tranquility before we leave America for good.

Last week, David Brooks of The New York Times provided an (unwitting) endorsement of the coming shift toward objectivism when he wrote,

Radicals are good at opening our eyes to social problems and expanding the realm of what’s sayable.  But if you look at who actually leads change over the course of American history, it’s not the radicals. At a certain point, radicals give way to the more prudent and moderate wings of their coalitions.

He closed by invoking one of the greatest thinkers in the history of the modern era, Isaiah Berlin, who laid claim to the light that exists in that seam of possibility that occupies the “extreme right-wing edge of the left-wing movement.”  Where the surety of objectivism lives.

The next few months will be rough.  At times, it will seem as if the light will never come to erase the darkness of despair and loss.  But, come it will.  Many will fight mightily to herald a new dawn.  To them, we will owe a deep debt of gratitude in much the same way we owe those who delivered us from the tyranny of King George III, defeated the treasonous Confederate army in the Civil War, and vanquished fascism in the 1940s.

For the rest of us, we have (at least) one solemn duty: vote, damn it, VOTE!

By |2020-09-01T15:22:52+00:00August 18th, 2020|General, Recent|0 Comments

But the Greatest of These is Love

As the swelter of heat and humidity hang like a shroud of interminable anguish over our suffering nation, the time has come to end the long nightmare that has become America’s fall from grace.

To those who continue to ignore the realities of this pandemic by following the path of selfishness, I have no words for you.

To those who remain committed to the evil of racism, misogyny, bigotry and self-righteous intolerance—whether on the political left or right—I have no words for you.

To those who express their privilege without hesitation or consciousness while ignoring the agony of their fellow Americans, I have no words for you.

To those who look with indifference at brown babies being separated from their mothers who are trying to save their families under the long shadowy gaze of the Statue of Liberty that welcomed your family to America, I have no words for you.

To those who enable men of power to ignore their solemn oath to honor the rule of law and the Constitution of the United States, I have no words for you.

And to you, President Trump, we have suffered your wrath more than any of us deserved. You have actualized the American carnage you promised during your inauguration.  To you, only these words remain: please, for the good of the country and the world, TAKE YOUR LEAVE NOW.

For all the rest of you who remain committed to American values and virtue—who still believe in the American Dream—I have these words for you: respect, love and hope.

I respect your discipline and your sacrifice.  I respect that in the face of anguish and seemingly insurmountable odds, you have extended your hand to support your neighbors.  I respect that you speak not of your losses and tribulations, but of what you can contribute to alleviate the suffering of others.  I respect that you too are scared, but somehow manage to leave your fear buried beneath your courage.

I love that you remain stalwart defenders of compassion in the face of hate—that you continue to project love to trump hate.  The great American theologian, Paul Tillich, taught us that love is the most important factor in transforming power into justice.  Justice needs power and power needs love; without love there can be no justice.  This may be the most simple and elegant equation ever constructed in the history of the world.

I hope, as I expect you do, that Americans like yourselves will save us from those for whom I have no words.  I hope that we will transcend the petty, divisive, and dangerous leaders who currently abuse the levers of American power.  I hope that we will succeed in reimagining America and relight the “city on a hill” established by John Winthrop upon arriving at what became the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the early 17th century.  I hope we can keep the dreams of every child alive, that they may succeed us in becoming masterful stewards of humanity.

The next several months are fraught with certain peril.  May respect, love and hope serve each of us as we endeavor to save America.

 

By |2020-08-18T17:40:34+00:00July 27th, 2020|Donald Trump, General, Recent|0 Comments
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