Friday, September 25, 2015 11:06 AM
Christmas come three months early—that’s a way of looking at it. This whole weekend, barring the unforeseen, is shaping up to have all the spirit of the holiday season—and without the concomitant burden of family gatherings and gift-giving. Applauded at our seat of government, at the site of the 9/11 memorial, and at the UN General Assembly—cheered by luminous throngs along every byway—striking in the dignity he brings to humility and compassion—the pope has hit this country like a love bomb.
Speaker Boehner resigns his post for the good of the Congress, of his party, and of the nation—and hopes to avert a government shutdown by passing a clean bill with bi-partisan support before he steps down. Even if the forces bringing him to this decision hadn’t been inexorably in play before the pope’s visit, the speaker still had two choices—fight it out or fall on his sword for the common good—and the decision to announce the latter choice the day after meeting with Francis tempts us to imagine a connection between these two events.
Presidents Obama and Xiaoping announced agreement on a new carbon-emissions reduction proposal—and as the two largest producer-nations of carbon dioxide, et. al., their almost too-good-to-be-true willingness to cooperate in trying to lessen human-source impact on climate gives us hope that the oil-barons of the world (and co.) will not succeed in destroying us all. Xi Xiaoping’s appearance provided a marked contrast to the pope—all self-control and internalization of feeling—a man weighed down perhaps by the impossibility of being overly humanist while holding the reins of three billion kinda-hungry people—and a government that is more than a match for America when it comes to corruption.
It’s enough to make a person giddy—I can’t even watch the normal news stories about Volkswagen, or Trump, or other bummers—they ruin the mood. My only concern is the pope’s health—his itinerary makes me tired just to hear. But I’m not too worried—when I was boy, our grandmother took my little brother and I to Washington D.C. for a week (this was before Disney World). We spent days trudging from the Capitol to the Washington Memorial to the Lincoln Memorial to the White House to the Smithsonian to the Library of Congress to Mt Vernon to the Iwo Jima statue—our young legs were exhausted, but my old gramma trooped along like Patton, unstoppable and untiring.
And just think—I don’t have to have my relatives to dinner, I don’t have to buy you a present and you don’t need to get me anything—why, it’s better than Christmas. But there’s still plenty of singing (I loved the NY Children’s Choir’s performance of “Let there Be Peace on Earth” at the UN earlier) and, more importantly, my favorite part of December 25th is the spirit in the air—and there’s so much of that right now I can hardly stand it. Merry Christmas everybody!