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Saturday, October 23, 2021

Hearts Are Breaking All Around

Cloudy with slingshots

 I’m old enough to remember (though I was certainly not of voting age) the presidential race that pitted John Kennedy against Richard Nixon. Then as always, Americans on both sides of the political fence had strong feelings about their candidate and their candidate’s opponent. Remarks about opponents were not always generous or kind. There were some bad jokes and cartoons. But never in that time did I see signs in front yards that would, if featured in a movie today, have brought an “R” rating for language. 


Now, almost a year past the 2020 campaign, remaining signs and flags have become only more vile in their wording. What is it like, I ask myself, for young parents whose children have begun to read and ask the meaning of some of those loathsome words and proclamations?


Politics is never only politics, and the nastier it gets, the wider the ramifications. A neighbor and I can differ on fiscal policy or foreign policy or even what constitutes strong education, but when I drive past a house (none in my immediate neighborhood this nasty, thank heaven!) and meet with language that is like a middle finger raised in my face, my pleasure in beautiful natural surroundings is given a slap in the face.


Community. Neighborliness. Goodwill. Fair play. Graceful, gracious losing. How many of us have had our faith in those notions undermined in the past six years or more? What message are schoolchildren receiving when their parents protest against masks and at the same time scream that the answer to violence is more guns?


When death came to Thunder Rolling in the Mountains, or Chief Joseph, of the Nez Perce, in 1904, after the death of all his family and the loss of their homeland, the Colville Reservation physician reported that he had died of a broken heart. 


Philosopher Henri Bergson died on January 4, 1941, during the Nazi Occupation of much of France, including Paris, his health already poor, but you will never convince me that his death was due to anything other than a broken heart. 


These days Americans of all races and religions and political affiliations are going around with breaking hearts. Will there be an end to this in my lifetime?

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