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.

For that human impulse alone, at a time when simple fellow-feeling in the body politic is almost nil, these witnesses…

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.


Chris Slupski / Unsplash

“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…

Chris Slupski / Unsplash

“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.”

Things seem to be falling apart in America in this post-Trump, mid-pandemic moment. Even with the new…

First in an ongoing series, Lessons Learned Post-Trump

After four years of the calamitous presidency of Donald J. Trump, a presidency that has knocked off every institutional and cultural guardrail of American Democracy, America needs to glean lessons learned. Of course, the challenge is gleaning the right lessons — which debate, in as varied and choleric a country as ours is now, will be hotly contested. This series will endeavor to sift the evidence and find those right lessons, on the premise that America is at a hinge moment, when our next steps must be wisely put.

Fifteenth in an ongoing series, Notes from a Plague-Time

The following email exchange was instigated by a young mother — I will call her “D.” — who wrote me on New Year’s Eve. Family friends, we live on opposite coasts, D. on the East, I on the West. She reached out to me because of my series, “Notes from a Plague-Time,” asking a plague-related question — and now, later, reports a nice surprise. D. is the mother of two sons, aged 10 and 8.

Without losing sight of the enormous repair work before us — repairing American Democracy after Donald Trump’s wrecking-ball of a tenure, repairing the devastation wreaked by the coronavirus pandemic — it was still possible to take a measure of cheer and encouragement from the sober and subdued Inauguration of President Joe Biden.

Nobody but nobody is under any illusion about the enormity of the repair work ahead, but the notes sounded this Inauguration Day — of truth, poetry, reality: the return to — are the notes that linger and, upon further reflection, seem just the right notes to the troops…

Mr. Fake President:

From first to last, Donald Trump, you were the worst — the worst President, by many magnitudes, “yuge” magnitudes all your own — in the proud annals of American history.

From your scurrilous peddling of the birther hoax about your infinitely superior predecessor Barack Obama, to your ignoble finish — inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, earning you a historic second impeachment! shirking any responsibility to organize the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic, earning you the deaths of nearly 400,000 Americans! — well, if you wanted to be President in the worst way….

No need…

“Reputation, reputation, reputation! Oh, I have lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial.”

America has long enjoyed the proud reputation of the world’s oldest and most vibrant democracy. We are — were — the City on a Hill, Bastion of Democracy, Leader of the Free World, pointing the way for the world’s nascent democracies, yearning to breathe free and self-govern.

No more. Not after last week’s terrifying insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, incited by the nominal steward of American Democracy, “President” Donald Trump. …

Carla Seaquist

Our times examined via politics, culture, morality. Author, "Can America Save Itself from Decline?" Playwright. Contributor, HuffPost.

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