A Second Act

Written By: Charles - Aug• 27•20

Lughnasa and the Labor Day Moon

Thursday gratefuls: Kate. Amber. Rigel. Kep. Cool morning. The Pandemic. Trump. BLM. Prostate cancer. Lung disease. Sjogren’s. CBE. Mussar. Tara. Electric cars. The dying of the extractive fossil fuel industries. Climate change. The Book of Revelation.

Predicting the end of the world is a parlor game played by intellectuals and cranks. It never fails to terrify, alarm, or make someone laugh. Think of all the cartoons with the bearded man and the sign: The End is Near.

Apocalypse. It’s hard to put the word aside these days: Murder Hornets, Covid, Trump, Climate Change (remember climate change?), that asteroid, Hurricane Laura. It has me checking the clouds for a guy in a flowing robe and an angry tilt to his eyebrows.

Remember 2012? Y2K? The first models of what the Coronavirus might do? Evangelicals support Israel because they think it will encourage the second coming. No, really.

Instead, I hear T.S. Eliot, “This is the way the world ends, not with a bang, but a whimper.” Our sense of drama wants, needs a bang, but I’d say the most likely scenario for the end of humanity comes after centuries of an Earth made too hot for us by our own actions. A self-destructive species, us Humans.

You’ll probably not guess where I’m going with this. It means to me that our nation will survive the Donald, will take him, the pandemic, even the Asteroid and murder Hornets, and recreate ourselves.

There may be no second acts in America, but I believe there will be a second act for America. The last four years, colored even darker by the “if it were fiction, it wouldn’t be believable.” nature of the last few months, have had certain oddly positive effects.

The racist (and, classcist) strands in our history have been written clearly in blood and anger. Black Lives Matter and its counter protesters in the alt-right have put on a medieval morality play in cities across the country. See Kenosha. Portland. Minneapolis. The reactions of police and the denizens of the right-wing demimonde have clarified what’s at stake for our nations future. I believe we will see positive policy changes in cities and in our nation, especially after the election.

The orange excrescence has performed a similar service for the small d democrats here. Who are, I believe, most of us on the left and right. We now know how important not only the constitutional nature of our government is, but the norms and traditions it has developed over 200 years of history as well.

That’s why I’m seeing a sign on a Brookforest yard that reads: I’m a Republican, but I’m no Fool: Vote Biden. That’s why all those national security folks have gone on record as supporting Trump. Even George Bush. George Will. Many other prominent members of what used to be the GOP.

We will have an opportunity, if we choose to take it, to reimagine this nation. Our founding documents and our founders will play a strange role in this reimagining.

That 3/5th’s “compromise.” Sally Hemmings. All those George Washington owned slaves. The white, male, property owner requirement for voting. Not who we want or need to be anymore. Let them now live on as the sins of the fathers that were visited on our generation, but finally expiated.

I’ve taken mild liberties with the text, but this should serve as a template for the next four years:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men of us are created equal, that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men all men and women, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

We gray beards and gray heads have a role to play in this exciting time. Just what it is, I’m not sure, but it has something to do with insisting on our better natures. Will you join me as we search for Rumi’s field out beyond right and wrong?

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