Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Keeping civilization alive






The day after Donald Trump's election, I could barely speak. I am not exaggerating for effect here. I was numb, shocked to my core. I didn't turn on the TV, didn't read, didn't listen to anything on the radio. I just came to a standstill.

As I sat quietly and reflected on what had just occurred, I made some decisions. There are things I can control and there are things I cannot control. 

I have made a vow to do better, to be better, to fill my head with better stuff. 

In this regard, I intend to seek out more beauty, more art, more knowledge, better music, to be more generous, kinder, more useful. I have decided to work at doing my part to keep civilization alive.

So this past Monday, I drove down to Union College in Schenectady for a talk at the Nott Memorial. The lecture by Robin Wall Kimmerer was about culturally significant plants of the Adirondack region and renewing a respectful relationship with the natural world. 

The Nott Memorial is a very appealing space in which to hold an event like this. The sound system was great, the chairs comfortable, the free refreshments were delightful, the audience was attentive and respectful. Thank you, Union College and its Kelly Adirondack Center, for this free event. It was a lovely evening. In fact, it was downright ... civilized. I will go again.






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2 comments:

  1. Adverse events seem to wake us up to the fragility and value of life. I remember an old CW friend who read the classics voraciously and wrote out her experiences and thoughts frantically, in what she knew would be her last few months of life. In her writings there was not a word of complaint or self-pity. She just wanted to share the goodness in what she had learned along the way. I look at photos of my brother taken in his last months, far from me, and I have the distinct impression that he was thinking extra-deep thoughts as he gazed out over the waters and that those sweet, direct smiles he beamed at the camera were meant to comfort us later. I am not under any such direct threat, but lately on account of aging and its frailties, I've been disposed to begin a long overdue decluttering of burdens so as to live better and do better on all fronts. The installment of such low and crude national leaders and legislators feels tragic. Our society as is it being transformed right now is not going to be a place where, in Peter Maurin's words, it will be "easy to be good." But as you say, there's nothing for it but to do what we can to preserve and promote civilization.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Adverse events seem to wake us up to the fragility and value of life. I remember an old CW friend who read the classics voraciously and wrote out her experiences and thoughts frantically, in what she knew would be her last few months of life. In her writings there was not a word of complaint or self-pity. She just wanted to share the goodness in what she had learned along the way. I look at photos of my brother taken in his last months, far from me, and I have the distinct impression that he was thinking extra-deep thoughts as he gazed out over the waters and that those sweet, direct smiles he beamed at the camera were meant to comfort us later. I am not under any such direct threat, but lately on account of aging and its frailties, I've been disposed to begin a long overdue decluttering of burdens so as to live better and do better on all fronts. The installment of such low and crude national leaders and legislators feels tragic. Our society as is it being transformed right now is not going to be a place where, in Peter Maurin's words, it will be "easy to be good." But as you say, there's nothing for it but to do what we can to preserve and promote civilization.

    ReplyDelete

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