Some thoughts about the recent, and past, elections…
Heading home, down Briley Parkway in West Nashville, I noticed some of leaves had reached peak, some had fallen, but many were still green. I thought back to my recent months in Beaver River and remembered that collective gasp when, driving down to the lake, I noticed all the leaves had changed at the same time. This is why fall is so much more beautiful in the Adirondacks than in much of the South. In the South this tree changes, then that tree changes, but by that time the previous tree had relaxed and dropped its colorful laden load; leaving little but moody winter grey.
I love that too, but prefer to be faced with solid sullen grey: also inspiring… in an Edgar Allen Poe-ish way.
I usually find myself wondering where the fall went in the South. That collective gasp that comes before snow places the softest pillow over much of nature’s wildlife. The leaves, of course, are now dead. For fall, in reality, is death in color. The most colorful deaths punctuate life with meaning: making those left behind question, wonder and appreciate what they had, what they still have and who, or what, is no longer with us. Seems those who just fade away, unfortunately, often simply just fade away.
People are often like leaves: when they shine bright they are remembered, dull fades.
I also miss my Adirondack nights. Unlike the frequently misty, hazy, half moonlit middle Tennessee nights, Adirondack nights can be very black. House lights pierce through the obsidian darkness. Through those windows you might catch a glimpse of life going on: family gathering for a game of rummy, or pinochle, children playing, or an old man living alone finding meaning in a SciFi book midst the blackest nights. For on the blackest nights the bright light truly shines bright.
I was thinking about Democrats scrambling to do what, essentially, Republicans said they would do after the previous election. What went wrong? How should we change? Yet one must note the Republicans changed little after the “autopsy” and still they won. So maybe all this angst is unnecessary. But, on second thought: with a more rational, less angst driven, perspective: I really find that assessment a bit shallow.
It reminds me of a quote from Captain Kirk: Star Trek 5…
“You know that pain and guilt can’t be taken away with a wave of a magic wand. They’re the things we carry with us, the things that make us who we are. If we lose them, we lose ourselves. I don’t want my pain taken away! I need my pain!”
The 60s were a very dark time with a hell of a lot of “pain.” …seemingly endless war, coffins arriving providing daily death parades, women found, sometimes weekly, on Central Park park benches: dead from botched abortions, some youth seemed lost in a drug culture, others focused on resisting the war, “the man…” And during those dark days Martin Luther King, Barry Goldwater, Eugene McCarthy, George Wallace, Robert Kennedy and, yes, even Richard Nixon provided direction. Some provided bright lights, some: colorful deaths, and some: stark darkness. Some gave us all three.
These days we have radicals pushing our country one way, others who wish to make our days more murky, misty, foggy. Excuse me if I would rather they stop trying to do that and provide their own bright, Adirondack-like, night lights. To quote Barry Goldwater…
I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!
I would disagree with Barry and say, if we lived in different times, that moderation in pursuit of justice certainly can be a virtue if it moves us forward rather than letting extremism hold us back. But, right or wrong, we don’t live in those times: something I fear Barack Obama still insists on trying to change but will never succeed in changing. After the first election: with a hint of sarcasm, I wished him luck. Now I wonder if, eventually, one way or another he will be giving them what they wanted, and giving them back what little they have lost.
Dedicated, firm, rock hard pursuit of goals and agendas often, though not always, does conquer compromise… eventually. It’s an unfortunate truth.
I would also argue elections aren’t lost, or won, these days on how much people hated Obama, or Bush, or Clinton. These folks are known quantities and their voters will vote the way they vote. They can be countered by meeting them with equal dedication to other causes, to what’s right. No, elections are lost on the lack of power in, “Meh!” “Meh!” leaves the election to those who think they are leading us unto the light, believe they know where brighter, more colorful days, can be found.
They believe that even if they lead us into the darkest parts of the night. But if they do… remember to look up from time to time and sooner or later you may catch a glimpse: for the stars are still there.
For the good, or not, we live in stark times: where the blackest nights are darker… insidious, devious, often filled with lies intending to deceive, destroy and steal. But it is also a time for leadership that lights the lights, brightens our way.
Beware: we also live in an unfortunate time when those with the brightest torches also insist: like in Poseidon, on leading us the wrong way and setting anyone on fire who challenges their leadership. Some do so because, in their delusion, they truly think they know the way. Their vision is twisted upside down. Some do so because there’s profit and power to be had as corpses pile higher, jobs are lost and America can be sold off, packed and shipped to some of the most oppressive, offensive, slave labor-loving nations in the world. If doing the most harm creates the most profit, endows them with more power, that’s all the matters.
But still: all is not lost. Remember…
On the blackest nights the brightest light shines.
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
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