Nineteenth in a series, Notes from a Plague-Time
Just as America, after a year-and-a-half of suffering, was heading for Independence Day from COVID-19, we are regressing — perhaps to a worse place than before — defeated not by the virus in any of its variants, but by the human factor at its most irrational and un-citizenly.
First, the irrational part. Citizens described as “vaccine-resistant” or “vaccine-skeptical,” whose doubts about the safety or efficacy of vaccines developed so fast, are somewhat plausible. Less plausible and more harmful, though, are those holdouts who can be called the “vaccine-obtuse,” whose reasons are political…
It is clear: If your military troops deployed in Country X have been aided by members of Country X’s population — such as interpreters, drivers, fixers, security guards, staff at your embassy, etc.; and if, in aiding your troops these interpreters, etc., have also saved your troops’ lives; and if, by aiding and saving your troops these interpreters, etc., have been marked as “traitors” by the forces soon to take over Country X as you pull out, then you have a moral duty to aid them in return, as they seek refuge from certain death for themselves and their families.
Eighteenth in a series, Notes from a Plague-Time
In his canonic novel The Plague, as the plague began to ebb away, Albert Camus tells of the “sporadic talk” of the townspeople to create, post-plague, “a new order of things.” Having “gone to school with suffering,” they wanted to “put to account” that suffering, to create a New Day.
In the old order of things, the townspeople devoted themselves to “doing business” and “getting rich” — materialism Camus calls “completely modern.” Also “modern”: the “relaxed morals,” love as a thing “consumed,” inattention to God. (American readers will note the resemblance.) With…
“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…