Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Light in the Dark Ages

Imagine living between roughly 500-1000 AD. If it wasn’t Goths pounding at the gate, it was the Visigoths.  No sliced bread, Saran Wrap or Seinfeld re-runs. They couldn’t even watch TV by candlelight.  But nobody knew it was dark until the lights went on.

Of course all this is the Eurocentric view. In the Middle East and Asia great civilizations were sprouting…which, in turn, sent armies of Christian Crusaders off to do battle with those infidels and later to colonize. In Africa it was the same story. As Desmond Tutu put it, When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said, let us pray. We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land…. which, more or less, brings us up to date. 

Today in Trumpdom we live in the shadow cast by his dangerous decrees, appointments and blurts. Our Western clock is being set back to end time. An ill wind blows fanning fires, leveling islands, raising sea level. The wrath of ignorance prevails while we watch comic books on big screens. We have become a nation of bar room brawls and shoot-outs at the OK Corral.

And yet…… there is not only good news to be found on page 11 or 23 of the newspaper but an occasional lotus can be seen pushing up out of the mud. I could cite the latest Dodger victory but that meant bad news for the poor Cubs.

In fact, kindness and generosity are so pervasive they wash over us unnoticed. Even those otherwise deplorable, paramilitary, climate-denying sheep who Bah mindlessly over Fox News, display continuing instances of normalcy, unlike their inspirational leader.

As we were driving to a non-power lunch yesterday the thought of road courtesy occurred to me. How we obey stop-signs (more or less), traffic lights, automatic signals and lane changes. How our very driving grants us the opportunity to practice civility. Without it we’d be bumping into each other. Thanks to the car we create our own psychic space and have learned to observe and honor our fellow strangers. And no highwaymen as in the Dark Ages.

It has taken a Trump to bring me to this search for acts of common decency. A very small sample size of glorious fall foliage is happening outside our window. Soon winter camellia will appear and then bulbs will return with their new spring collection of dresses. I expect there were also moments of illumination in that other Dark Age along with random acts of true spiritual humanity even within the stranglehold of the Church.

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