Thanks Ladies, I now have a new morning ritual. In the aftermath of the Women’s March I decided to try the 100 days of phone calls and postcards to Congress. This isn’t getting the breakfast dishes washed any faster, but that’s a small price to pay for my sanity. “Indivisible” (Google that!) has some excellent […]
Hold this thought, always.
One week ago. I was there.
This was the easy part.
Now we have to go home and organize in our own communities. We have to hang on to what we felt last Saturday, whether we were in Washington DC, at our local marches or just watching on television. We must remember the solidarity we felt, especially when the work gets hard or boring or someone pisses you off or when you think it should be done a different way or some person or committee screwed something up or when it looks like we are going in twenty different directions and we can’t settle on a course of action.
Or. Or. Or.
And to be perfectly frank, I’m not worried about THEM dividing us. I’m worried about us taking care of that all by ourselves.
We are on the same side. Hold on to that. And be kind to each other. We need ALL of us. And if some of us aren’t as woke as others, if some of us put our foot in our mouth, if some of us are unintentionally oblivious, please, give us the benefit of the doubt.
There is so very much at stake.
the following was written by E.B. White to Mr. Nadeau; March 30, 1973 As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.
Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society — things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time, waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.
Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.
We are resolute.
Powerful men think they’ve won.
We will not be moved.
“A Sunday Morning Reading: Carl Sagan, Science and Witchcraft”
Originally posted on April 18, 2010 on my now-shuttered blog, Blue Lyon. It still holds up.
In The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (Ballantine Books, 1996), Carl Sagan stressed over and over again the need for science literacy, critical thinking and skepticism. We need not understand the finer points of each scientific discipline, but we need to understand the scientific method and how to apply it in our daily lives, as well as in our national and international policy-making.
Sagan also argued that ignorance of what-came-before can set us up to commit the same errors in the here-and-now. Understanding the past is key to living in the present and planning for the future. To not know our history and our human propensity for unskeptical thinking is to doom us to continually make the same mistakes, to never move forward, or worse, finish ourselves off as a species.
In Chapter 24, Science and Witchcraft, Sagan revisits the witch hunts of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries that consumed Europe and America. The parallels in the following passage to today’s political environment are striking: Guantanamo, indefinite detention, military commissions-vs-civilian courts, National Day of Prayer, torture, the run up to the Iraq war, the prosecution of whistle-blowers, even the 2008 Democratic primaries. Sagan appears prescient. He wasn’t. He was just aware of history.
If we do not know what we’re capable of, we cannot appreciate measures taken to protect us from ourselves. I discussed the European witch mania in the alien abduction context; I hope the reader will forgive me for returning to it in its political context. It is an aperture to human self-knowledge. If we focus on what was considered acceptable evidence and a fair trial by the religious and secular authorities in the fifteenth-to-seventeenth century witch hunts, many of the novel and peculiar features of the eighteenth-century U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights become clear: including trial by jury, prohibitions against self-incrimination and against cruel and unusual punishment, freedom of speech and the press, due process, the balance of powers and the separation of church and state.
Friedrich von Spee (pronounced “Shpay”) was a Jesuit priest who had the misfortune to hear the confessions of those accused of witchcraft in the German City of Würzburg (see Chapter 7). In 1631, he published Cautio Criminalis (Precautions for Prosecutors), which exposed the essence of the Church/State terrorism against the innocent. Before he was punished he died of the plague – as a parish priest serving the afflicted. Here is an except from his whistle-blowing book: Continue reading “31. She can never clear herself.”