When we despair…

BY WENDELL BERRY

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry, “The Peace of Wild Things” from The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry. Copyright © 1998. Published and reprinted by arrangement with Counterpoint Press.
Source: Collected Poems 1957-1982 (Counterpoint Press, 1985)

Listen to an Interview with Wendell Berry that is sure to right yourself in this tumbling world, so increasingly difficult to understand.

Living in a less tolerant time…

My grandparents' farm house in Watauga, TN.

My grandparents’ farm house in Watauga, TN.

My grandparents were long time Republicans, small farming families from east Tennessee. Their values of self-reliance and Christian values remain in what is today a mostly Democratic family. Perhaps for that reason, I’ve always had an “ear” for the Republican side of politics and governing.

Moreover, I consider it an American citizen’s duty to consider both or all sides of politics before making decisions. Yet today, like no other time in my life as an American, can I remember when a candidate who openly supports xenophobia, hatred, and incivility, is rising to the forefront of the Republican party.

Historians liken our time to that of Germany and the rise of Hitler, another state where whites began to fear the “other.”  In the 1930’s,  Germans began to point a finger at one group as the reason for economic ills: Jews.

Donald Trump is rising on a wave of hate and frustration among white Americans feeling a threat to their economic security. This is part of a general loss of faith in institutions overall, a point made by Juan Cole on his blog, Informed Comment.

The fact is that our demographic is changing in color. If the idea of our Republic was to establish a white, Christian state with men in power forever, then it was never a Republic. What our forefathers did (when in fact the starting point was white, Christian, male) was to set into motion the idea that everyone can obtain the right to pursue their own happiness as long as they are willing to meet a basic set of criteria. And that criteria requires we participate actively in a democratic way of life. Discourse (the exchange of points of view for consideration by all), not debate (where one view wins over another) is a hallmark of democracy. Granted, Americans struggle to live up to these high ideals. But, that’s what makes us great.

History shows us that tolerance is a key component of American life, too, that we must all be able to listen to each other with respect, and to engage in reciprocity as we exchange ideas. That is really hard. But its required in a Republic.

What we have today are two forces rotting the core of our Republic: 1) good people who remain silent (of all political persuasions); 2) giving media time and voice to a demagogue who represents nothing about the American way of life. The latter is a function of the erosion of the free press into vacuous and dangerous entertainment.

Losing our Republic is possible in our lifetime. And, oh, what a tragedy when I think of what it took of our forebears to win it, and all the generations – Republicans, Democrats, and Independents – who have fought so hard to keep it, improve it, and rise to its ideal of civil discourse and cooperative living.

A couple of ways to explore more on this topic:

Neal Gabler Article on Bill Moyers.com

Fox News Article on what a Trump world might be like.

 

A world made whole

Low Tide on a Spring DayFrom my earliest memory, I have loved being in nature. I frolicked in the out of doors, savoring every second I could:

rolled down a hill with gravity pulling me faster and faster, out of control; jumped into a fragrant pile of leaves trusting it would cushion me;

plunged into a pool when the air popped with heat; shushed down a quiet, snow covered slope toward a tiny chalet, smoke twirling above its chimney;

rocketed a backhand, uncoiling the power of my body to propel a fuzzy ball on an accelerating arc to my opponent’s feet.

These are the gifts of being alive on Earth, this magnificent creation.

Only here can I be carried away by the scent of orange blossoms; only here can I gaze into the blue mirror of a lake at mountain peaks and passing clouds.

I come away from digital kingdoms that replicate at exponential speed; I come away to a world made whole, and wholly holy.

For years I sensed Earth’s wholeness, whenever I remembered and returned.

For years I pursued knowledge to understand why it was that way.

And then, I just accepted the world was made whole.

And now, I realize I was, too.

 

More About Supreme Court

Freedom

Liberty at the U.S. Capitol

This is a very interesting news segment on Democracy Now about the Scalia impact on history and the Supreme Court, and what we might expect going forward on major issues before it.

*350 Pensacola posted this article about what Antonin Scalia’s death means for climate change:

From Slate.

For another point of view: The Daily 202, Washington Post. And one more: Fox News Short List for Supreme Court

Sri Sinovasan

Paul Watford

Scalia: The Christian Science Monitor Review of Life and Work

In the Capitol Building

In the Capitol Building

Since the death of Justice Scalia, I have searched for a good review of Antonin Scalia’s life and legacy in interpreting the law of the land. While I do not personally share his political beliefs about Constitutional “originalism”, I respect a life lived with devotion to the law and to one’s personal beliefs. The reason I am posting this is to provide the perspective of at least some of the Republican Presidential candidates about Constitutional interpretation.

So, before we all rush off to join the conflagration considering Scalia’s replacement, here is an article by Mark Sherman from Saturday’s Christian Science Monitor that explore’s the man’s life and work. This gives citizens an idea of the impact of one judge’s beliefs and legal interpretations and the challenge to President Obama in replacing a Supreme Court Justice.

“Antonin Scalia remembered as tireless advocate of Constitutional originalism.” ~ by Mark Sherman, The Christian Science Monitor, Saturday, February 13, 2016

Read another interpretation of Justice Scalia’s legacy from The Nation – Scalia v. the World: On Antonin Scalia.

Xenophobia: America’s Challenge

Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt

The Nation Magazine published an article this week that reminds readers of Eleanor Roosevelt’s message to a fear-racked American public following the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Perhaps, on us today lies the obligation to prove that such a vision may be a practical possibility. If we cannot meet the challenge of fairness to our citizens of every nationality, of really believing in the Bill of Rights and making it a reality for all loyal American citizens, regardless of race, creed or color; if we cannot keep in check anti-Semitism, anti-racial feelings as well as anti-religious feelings, then we shall have removed from the world, the one real hope for the future on which all humanity must now rely. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt quoted in The Nation, “What can we learn from Eleanor Roosevelt in a time of Xenophobia?”, February 5, 2016.

Any Presidential Candidate who voices hatred for another religious belief or race leads us away from the great mandate of our national creed. David Woolner’s article follows The First Lady’s visit to a Detention Center, to President Roosevelt’s error in giving into the demands for internment  by a fearful public. The article is extremely useful in the malaise  of fear that pervades the American psyche today.

Presidential Candidates’ Education: Jill Stein and Jim Gilmore

Capitol Bldg RotundaWhile the GOP field of candidates shrinks, we have only one Republican, Jim Gilmore, and the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein left to review. This series of blog posts examined the education and early influences of Presidential Candidates:

JILL STEIN, GREEN PARTY CANDIDATE

Jill Stein was born in Chicago and raised in Highland Park, Illinois. She is Jewish, and her family attended Chicago’s North Shore Congregation Israel, a Reform synagogue.[12]

In the 1970s, Stein studied psychology, sociology, and anthropology at Harvard University, earning her undergraduate degree. She attended Harvard Medical School, graduating in 1979. ~ Wikipedia

Other Links: Jill Stein for President, On the Issues

 

JIM GILMORE 

Gilmore was born in Richmond, Virginia to Margaret Evelyn (née Kandle), a church secretary, and James Stuart Gilmore, Jr., a grocery store meat cutter.[2] He graduated from John Randolph Tucker High School and received an undergraduate degree from theUniversity of Virginia in 1971. ~ Wikipedia

Gilmore enlisted as a volunteer in the U.S. Army after college and worked as a counter-intelligence agent in then-West Germany in the early 1970’s after intensive language training in German, in which he became fluent. He was awarded the Joint Service Commendation Medal for Service to NATO.

As a student, he received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Virginia. He worked as a grocery store cashier to help pay for his college education.

Married to Roxane Gatling Gilmore with whom he shares two adult sons, Gilmore divides his time between his two Virginia residences in Alexandria and his hometown of Richmond. ~ About Jim, http://www.gilmoreforamerica.com/bio/

Other Links: On the Issues, Jim Gilmore for America