“The inescapable property of Time,” wrote English philosopher Francis Bacon, “is ever more and more to reveal the Truth.” While this inescapably is true, America cannot wait for Time to serve up Truth. For the sake of our badly battered democracy, we need Truth now.
Senate Republicans voting down an independent bipartisan commission to seek the Truth of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was not unexpected: A party that stood by its nefarious leader (Donald Trump) through two impeachments would not likely turn to examining his role in inciting this assault on American democracy.
Seventeenth in a series, Notes from a Plague-Time
As the coronavirus pandemic, by some measures, begins to ebb away, this might be the time to read a book about lessons learned from this world-wide event that has brought so much death and destruction.
Even for those of us who don’t quite believe it about the pandemic ebbing — Republican-generated contagion remains strong: in “vaccine resistance,” in red-state governors prematurely reopening their economies only to trigger new viral “hot spots,” in the unyielding anti-science mindset — this still is a good time to read such a book. …
Second in an ongoing series, Bending the Moral Arc
It’s hard to hear the dog-not-barking amidst a Category-5 media-storm. But this phantom bark is key to a more humane and mature Art and America.
The media-storm in question? The one that has razed the reputations of both a “giant” of American literature, Philip Roth, and his authorized biographer, Blake Bailey (also here). …
First in a series, Bending the Moral Arc
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., quoting a 19th-century clergyman, often cited this truth — a truth hopeful in its promise, but also reflective of prodigious labor and suffering.
With the verdict of “Guilty” on all three counts handed down yesterday against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the killing of George Floyd (also here and here), that moral arc just got bent a bit more toward Dr. …
Second in an ongoing series, Lessons Learned, Post-Trump
The ground shifted under America in a profound way during Donald Trump’s tenure. That is to say, while for nearly two-and-a-half centuries Americans have understood that We the People elect our leaders — with an ever-expanding wave of population groups fighting for their franchise — Trump, though he talked a populist game, revealed himself the proto-autocrat with his frontal assault on democracy itself — most egregiously, his refusal to accept the loss of his 2020 re-election bid and his inciting the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on 6 Jan. …
Here’s to the witnesses. Here’s to the ordinary Americans who, happening upon a grisly scene — the life of a defenseless man, George Floyd, being slowly snuffed out by a uniformed officer of the law — reacted in ways extraordinary for our cold-hearted times: They reacted with humanity. Recognizing another human being was in mortal danger and in desperate need of help, these human beings wanted to extend that help, they wanted to intervene, they wanted to save his life.
Sixteenth in a series, Notes from a Plague-Time
I would have to be a hope-killing misanthrope to recommend theatrical fare that added to our psychic load of bearing up during a deadly global pandemic, now entering its second year. I am a humanity-loving realist who understands we must manufacture our hope.
But these two plays both contain an “I hate” statement at their heart that enables their voicer to do battle with the downward thrust of the material. In “The Catastrophist,” a virologist, whose specialty is predicting and planning for viral pandemics, states flatly: “I hate pandemics!” In “On Beckett/In…
Human rights — the pre-eminence of the rights of the human being vis-à-vis the state — was presumably to be restored as a central focus of American foreign policy, once the Transactor-in-Chief (Donald Trump) left office and President Joe Biden assumed power.
Proponents of realpolitik — pragmatic, interest-driven politics — discount a human rights-based politics as a moral nice-to-have. But, at present, another kind of realpolitik, global in scope, is in play: Democracies around the world are losing ground and autocrats are gaining it, by takeover — and thus, the human being needs all the help he/she can get.
“If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”
Abraham Lincoln enunciated this profound truth when he was a young man of 28, a state legislator with stirrings of national ambition. In his Lyceum Address, he laid out his evolving understanding of the nature of American Democracy, then just 50 years old — a system of government created by our ancestors “to display before an admiring world” the “truth of a proposition,” hitherto deemed “problematical,” namely, “the capability of a people…
“Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold.” Irish poet William Butler Yeats voiced his foreboding — of things falling apart — in 1919, after the conclusion of World War I, which for the poet settled little. He imagined a “rough beast” slouching onward, heralding more terror, and those terrors — World War II, the Holocaust — did come to be. “Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,” he wrote. “The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.”