The big meal is over. The Vikings beat the Lions in a thrilling game. All across the nation people are wandering home, full of obligations fulfilled and too much food. Many have had the chance to actually count their blessings, the real meaning of the day, and understand that they are indeed wealthy.
Not everyone is so blessed, of course. Far too many people are alone and afraid, hungry and isolated. For all of the riches of our land they have been distributed unevenly and, at times, apparently at random. Yet this is indeed a good time to be alive to see the world come together, no matter how difficult it seems.
We have much to be thankful for.
CNN was on in the background, the sound turned off. It didn’t matter, however, because the heat of the discussion came through in vivid colors all the same. It’s all bad, it’s all hot, it’s all gonna burn down.
With the sound off and other distractions around me, however, it was easy to find some kind of hope. People passed by the noise and hardly registered it all in the hotel lobby. Life went on. Life will go on, once this nonsense is all over in a month. What will go down then?
The short answer is that America will be the same, but America will never be the same. Trump and his people more or less promised us all along that they would burn it all down and they will. We live in a different nation now, one which will have to reboot somehow from the ashes of what is left of civil discourse. Following a strong repudiation of Trump this might not be a bad thing.
It is dark outside when the alarm goes off, not at all a time to wake up. The usual 8 hours and 41 minutes of daylight we can expect on a Winter Solstice is never enough to keep us going, even on a relatively warm and mild December that developed late in the month. Here in Minnesota the sky has been grey and the snow has gone, heralding a brown Christmas with muddy dog prints on the floor with every outing.
But today is the first full day of Winter all the same, even if it doesn’t quite feel like it. The dark tells us so.
This is the end of the year traditionally. The new year should begin at Solstice, as is the ancient European tradition, just as the day begins at midnight. The only reason it doesn’t is that the Romans used a calendar, the Julian, that was off a bit by the time Pope Gregory XIII got around to revising it and everything moved ten days. No matter. The world since the Renaissance has increasingly been what we decree, not what we see.
A group of mourners arrived to express their condolences and support for the family of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, who was killed in revenge for the death of three Israeli teens. But they were not family or even friends – they weren’t necessarily welcome. They were Israelis reaching out to perform their own “Tikkun Olam”, or fixing the world. When asked if it was hard, one offered her reason for beig there. “Maybe,” she said. But, she added, “I think the peace will come from the people, not from our leaders.”
This may be more than just a gesture of grace. It may be the start of something bigger, something even more than the peace sought by the mourners. A lasting peace means a permanent arrangement that promotes peace – justice, order, respect, and cooperation. It may be different than anyone has contemplated in a long time.
I am behind in far too many things, so I hope you don’t mind a repeat from 2011. It’s a question I still find very important.
There are times when it seems as through the world is falling apart. The power of nations and their armies, which has only become greater through the last two generations, seems paralyzed to act in the face of growing unrest and demands for freedom around the world. The best solutions to the frozen uncertainty seems to be in nature, a life closer to the farm and organic. Imagination and the power of the human mind offers another way out once it is unleashed and free to take on the established regimes.
This summary not only describes today, but the world around 220 years ago at the start of what became known as the Romantic Era. It wasn’t romance in the way we usually use the term today, but instead a belief in the power of individuals and their natural instincts. Understanding the movement and where it came from can give us a few clues where we might be going today.