1457: As I sit here by the open window, I’m struck by how global we’ve become…because of technology, I am acquainted with roughly the same number of people living in or around Paris as I was with people in New York City 14 years ago. The sun streams in, and I listen to the tennis tournament across the street at the park and the cars speeding by on our “quiet” end of a local thouroughfare (all things are relative, “quiet” is about 60-80 cars a minute on 4 lanes on a Sunday afternoon); the night before last I was waiting up late to see if one our forum members (the last person I knew that I hadn’t seen or heard was okay) had checked in–not only was he in the area, but the concert venue was right up his alley.
I’m drinking tea and listening/half-watching to Lindsey Stirling and Katy Perry on YouTube (kids choice, not mine) while bread bakes and the hubby cleans the kitchen. Its about time to make dinner…chicken cordon bleu casserole with rice and broccoli, and I have a cat that alternately wants to walk on my keyboard or knaw on my screen as I look at overnight oats and smoothie recipies on Pinterest. It seems very much at odds with the aftermath of terror, both in Paris, and Beirut the night before, and in the countless places around the world.
1615: But of course one cannot simply sit and blog, uninterrupted…this is why I seldom get more than one blog post a week out anymore, and sometimes none.
I wonder, while I go about my day, if someone is learning that a coworker or cousin or childhood friend was killed because there are people whose idea of god is so small that they seek to destroy everything that (by their own holy book’s admission) he created that doesn’t agree with every warped interpretation they’ve cherry picked out of it. I think occasionally of the families–parents, children, partners, right now raw with grief over the pain of having their beloved mother|father|sister|brother|husband|wife|child ripped from them too soon. I wonder angrily how people will politicize this one…what seed of hatred that they harbor in their heart that they will dredge out to bloom in the name of righteousness.
I live in incredible privelege. Some of it economic, some of it is societal. When my kids ride the bus, I wait at a bus stop chatting with a Muslim mom in a niquab who drives her neighbor, a Hatian mom who speaks very little English to pick up their kids every day…another mom is from England, and two other occasional bus rider parents are a Chinese grandma and a stay-at-home dad (I’m going to miss this diversity when we move). Its a lower-middle/middle class neighborhood with one of the handful of good schools in the city, and a large park with a great playground. There’s some crime, but anything more than the occasional overnight car break in is unusual. My kids have never known violence…they’ve never even seen The Hubby and I get in an arguement that wasn’t fake and/or silly. How do you explain this to a kid whose playmate is Parisian, here for a couple of years because of a parent serving abroad?
1849: Sometimes I forget that my empathetic little pop tart can be remarkably pragmatic–we have now been elbow deep with perler beads making “France hearts” for a while. My job is the ironing.
On Friday night, I read a sentence in a comment by another member that hit me–Wisdom is scattered in the wind, and no man is able to assemble it. Immediately, my response was this:
But we can try.
And indeed we must.
…there is, after all, only one other choice.
To go give up and give in. I’m all for knowing when to bend—when bending is the strategy that will achieve eventual effective results.
If insanity is defined by doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, then call me insane. I will tilt at windmills and rage against the dying of the light, that one day those of us fighting to piece together the wisdom of humanity and live within the dictates of compassion will be a vocal majority.
Because that one day will come.
But not today.
Today we are still beautiful monsters…capable of depravity and terror in equal measure with kindness and nobility. And I have faith that we can still answer the former with the latter.
1931: Biology has had a controversial hypothesis that goes by the moniker of the “hopeful monster”–a term used to describe an event of spontaneous change (the specific changes probably aren’t important here, but just as an FYI, they are mutation, saltation, and speciation) in an organism that positively promotes new evolutionary groups. The name was created by the originator of the now defunct idea, Richard Goldschmidt (occasionally the term gets trotted out again for other ideas like punctuated equilibrium), but it has always stuck with me as a description of ourselves as a species.
We may not be undergoing speciation events, but our cultural evolution works at a pace that biological evolution will never emulate. As a species, we are beautiful and tragic hopeful monsters, full of depravity and virtue. Giving up because sometimes the former seems too much to overcome with the latter is not an option.
When we look at the big picture of human history, it becomes clear that Theodore Parker and Martin Luther King are right–the arc of the moral universe bends slowly, but it bends towards justice. But it only does that as long as the we are guided by the better angels of our nature and as long as we do not allow evil to flourish by doing nothing.
2057: Exactly six hours since I started this…
I think I’ll close with a prayer I came across on the internet a while back.
Let the rain come and wash away
the ancient grudges, the bitter hatreds
held and nurtured over generations.
Let the rain wash away the memory
of the hurt, the neglect.
Then let the sun come out and
fill the sky with rainbows.
Let the warmth of the sun heal us
wherever we are broken.
Let it burn away the fog so that
we can see each other clearly.
So that we can see beyond labels,
beyond accents, gender or skin color.
Let the warmth and brightness
of the sun melt our selfishness.
So that we can share the joys and
feel the sorrows of our neighbors.
And let the light of the sun
be so strong that we will see all
people as our neighbors.
Let the earth, nourished by rain,
bring forth flowers
to surround us with beauty.
And let the mountains teach our hearts
to reach upward to heaven.
(Rabbi Harold Kushner)