Wednesday, January 06, 2016 12:41 PM
Suicides are up; random violence is rising; Europe is turning away from its march towards unity—back towards nationalism; borders are being walled off; and worst of all, stupidity is on the ascendant. I don’t think even Hillary can handle all of America’s problems—and I don’t think even America can handle all the world’s problems. Yet population continues to grow—meaning there’s less of everything for everyone. And our planet is hurting, which means we can’t use as much of it as we used to.
We’ve been told that racism is over—but it isn’t. We’ve been told that population growth is no longer a problem—but it is. We’ve been told that capitalism is good for us—but it isn’t good for all of us. People will be what people have always been—talking a good game, but walking the walk of self-centered-ness. Problems that can be solved are not—and problems that make money for somebody are lied about—their existence denied outright.
It looks pretty hopeless, doesn’t it? How do we solve one problem when that one problem is enmeshed with a hundred others? How do we discuss our problems when the kibitzers get all the air-time—and the words of wise men and wise women get bumped for Bieber updates? As I look over this post I see nothing but bummed-out despair in my words—but am I lying? No. Am I focusing on the bad and ignoring the good? No—the good’s ‘all good’ but it doesn’t solve the problems of the bad. Sunshine and laughter would make far better material for a post—I know that. But our problems abide.
What do we do? I don’t know. All I know is what we shouldn’t do—we shouldn’t turn to demagogues like Trump—he’s just a 21st century Hitler waiting to happen. And we shouldn’t throw up our hands, just because there are too many problems. We should care about each other—that’s the only answer. Pass all the laws you like—if we don’t care about each other, it’s all just wasted paper.
Trump’s recent call to register Muslims reminds me of a story I heard—about Sweden during the Nazis—when they were told to have all their Jews wear Stars of David on their clothes, the entire population put stars of David on their clothes. They found an answer to Hitler—through the simple expedient of caring about each other. And they did something else—they put their fear aside. Americans used to think of themselves as that kind of people—people that put their fear aside.
Today America is the world’s largest producer of fear—we have become a nation of cowards. We cower before black teens, we cower before people who wear headdresses, we run to the gun store to stock up on firearms, as if our neighborhoods are different than they were last year, or the year before—fear is in fashion.
We have to stop being afraid of our neighbors and start caring about them. And we have to act on that caring—and stop acting on our fears. People will never be sensible—it’s not in our nature. We cannot ‘formulate solutions’ to all the threats our imaginations can conjure—we have to care about each other and embrace the courage that made this country great.
Personally, I’d prefer to take all the super-wealthy out back and shoot’em—but Iraq taught us that evil is a snake without a head—destruction without caring about what comes after just makes things worse. We are quick to listen to the shouters, the bullies, the hecklers—as if there was no wisdom in silence, no good in quiet reason, and no point in patience. We can’t help it—people are like that. But if we care about each other—and if we act on that care—we might start voting for people who care about people, too. We might start voting for people who aren’t rich or pretty—like Berny. But he’s just one guy—electing him wouldn’t do nearly as much good as emulating him. Better we should all become him than expect him to change the world all by himself.
A phrase from T. S. Eliot’s “Ash Wednesday” has always stuck in my head:
“Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.”
I think it means that we need to learn what to care about—and we have to have the courage to sit still—to not flinch at every worry that flies past our heads—and to have the patience to work things out the hard way—instead of going with ‘Hulk smash!’
So, anyway, my two improvs for today are titled “Teach Us To Care” and “To Sit Still”.
The camera didn’t work today, so I’ve substituted video of photos randomly selected from my hard drive–if you are a relative or friend of mine, you’re probably in the video–then I ran out of material and used illustrations from my book of Bear Poems to fill up the rest of the video. For the classical recital’s video, I used some of the great art from my library of images.
I also played from my “Classics To Moderns” piano book today—the stuff towards the end of the book. Run down to Stanton’s Sheet Music to get your own copy—there’s a whole series of easy-to-middling piano works for the amateur (like me) that are nonetheless very beautiful and satisfying to play—I’m sure with a little practice, you could play them much better yourselves in a surprisingly short time.
Xper Dunn plays Piano, January 6th, 2016
12 Works from ‘Classics To Moderns’ :
Romance –Reinhold Gliere (1876-1958)
Brisk Game, Novelette, & The Horseman –Dmitri Kabalevsky (1904-1987)
Chanson Sans Paroles (Op. 40, No. 2) –Jan Sibelius (1865-1957)
Prelude No. 4 (Op. 11) –Alexander Scriabine (1872-1915)
Sea Piece & To A Wild Rose –Edward MacDowell (1861-1908)
Valses Poeticos –Enrique Granados (1867-1916)
Elfin Dance, Song of the North, (‘Saebygga’) & The Cowherd’s Song (Op.17) –Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)