Sunday, May 26, 2013

Good Morning Justin...

Letter to my Son
Sunday, 26 May

Time Piece

Good Morning Justin…

A car starting at point A moves 65 mph towards point B and a truck, starting at the same time, moves 55 mph from point B towards point A.  The distance between points A and B is 125 miles.  How many miles does the car travel before passing the truck?  I think the answer requires a bit of calculating that I don’t feel is worth the effort to know. 

I think about the issue of immigration and I feel insecure about my job.  I’m going to evaluate the various aspects of a problem while having a possible financial stake in determining its solution.  I am emotionally invested in its outcome.  Were I the judge making the decision here I should recluse myself because I have a finger on the scale of justice.  This is as it should be when discovering what’s best in a court of law.  Politics, though, is not antiseptic when deciding the public’s welfare.  It vigorously shakes the beaker that holds both rational thought and emotion-bound motive.  In this context a vote of up or down on a measure never decides the debate in a democracy.  For the loser there are clear signs of villainy at work in the process.  Money has been passed.  A congressman’s career has been set among the chips being gambled.  Voices have filled the airwaves with warnings and scurrilous charges.  Mud is slung from all directions.  Making law in a democracy requires a good scrub down afterwards by all involved. 

Where are the men of marble now when we need them most?  The fact is they never were.  It’s impossible to function when carved of pure gleaming stone.  Our statues commemorate what’s admirable about those that have made our history.  Their human failings are among the discarded chips of marble tossed on an ash heap, lost from sight.  Our memory of past heroes has been carefully selected for us.  Our current view of future heroes is not well choreographed.  Petty weeds distract us.  We feel the jostling elbows and choke on dry, kicked up dust.  Shirts cling from effort, no longer fresh.  We’re penned in a corral.  There is no dignity here.

What a wondrous vista I see described before us.  A gentle breeze rustles the leaves of a distant tree lost in a sea of grass.  I hear the sparkle of a stream.  The air is honeysuckle.  Bees mingle among the clover.  This is our future as it can be, I am told.  If only the hearts filled with darkness could see what we see, know what we know, and feel what it is we feel with all the passion that comes with our love of truth and beauty. 

Get out your eraser.  This too was never true.  Human progress requires nature be put in its place.  An inspiration derived from the occasional brilliant mind must find its reality through endless keyboard taps, staff meetings and battling memos swirling amidst a vast, trudging bureaucracy.  These are the gears of our truly glorious civilization.  We are the new culmination in the long line of progressing vertebrates - primates that ate from the Tree of Knowledge.  Forced from the Garden of Eden we killed animals for food and clothes.  We tamed the majestic horse for our own purposes.  We organized cows into feedlots, turned black ooze into fire, contained it within metal and drove this contraption about the landscape.  We devised a scheme to capture electrons, turning our life into a magic show of light in the midst of night, pictures drawn from the air and machines to do much of our thinking for us.  We’ve gone to the nearest planet and safely brought back some of its rocks even though it doesn’t much matter.  We’re smart.  We’re stubborn.  We find ourselves endlessly fascinating and we might just punch you in the gut if you look at us cockeyed.  We won’t be here forever.  Maybe our epitaph could read, “On the whole it was worth it.”


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