What Our Response to the Pandemic Hasn’t Done and Could Have Done….

In my model constitutions in this blog I discuss bringing the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and American Samoa into more dynamic and complete participation in the federal government and the American Constitutional process.  I discussed what I consider to be a more dynamic and realistic role for the District of Columbia. I discussed granting more autonomy to Native American territories as well as Alaskan and Hawaiian first nation lands and federating them with each other which in turn would play out in these federated groups of native territories having representation in Congress. I discussed devolving Bureau of Land Management lands to a set of ideal super farms held to a high standard and allowed certain privileges thereby, I discussed allowing states more control over their border in emergencies and means of funding such control. I argued for a society wide wellness program that facilitated vaccination and preventing comorbidities. These are just a few things from those long documents. But while all these things had other political objectives they were part of a larger vision for making America more resilient in the kind of crisis it faces now.   In addition I argued for a number of things such as buffer zones at each border, improved screening at ports and airports and  funding more preventive care and emergency testing. But this post is not about those stimuli to a discussion that never happened.

This Saturday, May 2, 2020 I just got my mother a palm tree and myself some soil and fertilizer to plant it with and I hope that I will be well enough to plant it in the next couple of days. But I know I am not up to leading a reform on a radical scale in the United States. But I can still suggest that we consider the value of having many small meat packer and sales barns along with a few big ones, s lot of farm to table incentives as well as empowering best practices in the big food companies. Outside the constitutional gild system of my models I can suggest industry associations be both empowered and pressured to be their best. With the little time and energy that I have left, I can still suggest that we think things through on a global scale as well. Many groups have a vision for the fabric of this worldwide supplement to the major economy that can make a difference in times of crisis. There are links here, here  and here to groups with such vision.  There are many other also linked here and here and far beyond this little sample. These things which address issues about how food is produced as well as groups like Second Harvest which prevent waste and feed the hungry — all have a vital role in public health and disaster prevention at the level of massive calamity. I wrote up the model constitutions convinced that these efforts as they exist are not nearly enough but not as a means of undermining the many efforts to make things better that are ongoing.

For me, I think the time to lead anything is pretty well over. I barely manage my own personal existence these days. But while I live I am both an American citizen and a part of the human species — I struggle to fulfill both roles while I yet live. Both the rural and the urban realities must be understood for us to reach the right places. The right solutions must acknowledge wildlands, cities, farms , gardens rivers, islands, continents,  oceans and lakes as well as the polar caps and the rain forests. I also believe we must have a plan for the Moon and Mars. There is no real time suitable to be allotted to making lots of bad mistakes. There is only a chance to succeed by doing very well indeed compared to the norm.

The pandemic has occasioned a lot of discussion and a lot of strident  declarations. Life has been disrupted but the most unattractive aspects of modern life are on full and glaring display. Life is basically more hell than normal for those tormented with a n actual critical point of view. For those who are keyed into the real crises of this era over recent decades the current climate simply accentuates the present set of troubles as more than a fluke situation. This is not some pure random anomaly. But millions of people who would agree passionately with the idea that this is not a rare and random thing would not agree on what the causes and significance of this disaster are and how we should deal with them. In this post I am going to look at a few areas of concern that have not been sufficiently studied., discussed,considered in the pandemic crisis and made ready for future planning and consideration as reformed parts of the new normal to come..

I have recently reached another point of recognizing how horrifying the remainder of my life is likely to be in the future if I get through this time. But I do not plan to freely choose not to survive this time in order to avoid the later pain and decay which will come my way.

There are a huge number of issues in this crisis that are particularly of concern to me. I have a great deal invested in this larger set of discussions,

I have thought of the rural and urban tensions I see arising in this crisis quite a bit. One post is this one.

his evening I plan to go the wake and rosary for Dr. Ardley Hebert. He has been retired for some time and was quite old and very sick. He practiced in my hometown of Abbeville. I knew Dr. Ardley all my life but did not know him very well really. He was once Chief of Staff at Abbeville General Hospital. Abbeville would be a county seat if Louisiana had counties. Instead Louisiana has parishes so Abbeville is the seat of Vermilion Parish. Vermilion Parish is a rural and mostly agrarian parish with a big oil and gas sector and some shipping interests and several small towns and Abbeville is a quaint place and sometimes a fairly prosperous one. Dr. Ardley was the Coroner of Vermilion Parish at one time. He was a political figure in that position.

He was a surgeon but like many of our surgeons he had an office where maybe if you were a best friend of a third cousin’s  ex-wife’s gardener between insurance policies he might give you primary care at a minimal charge when he had slow load on his schedule. If you were close friend he might do whatever was needed to keep you from falling apart physicaly and financialy when you were in need.

The Heberts in the broad clannish sense are a prominent local Acadian

Besides the rural and urban issues, I have some very old interests in many of the health issues confronting us.  Co-morbidities are part of the issue at hand. Wellness is in part about diminishing comorbidities. Things and conditions that combine with Covid-19 to bring about an outcome of death, we have along history of struggling with healthcare issues in America. I mentioned some of those issues along the path to this moment.

This post is one of the mentions:

While a graduate student at Louisiana State University I was privileged to write a review of Pare Lorentz’s posthumously published memoirs FDR’s Moviemaker: Memoirs and Scripts and to read carefully and write about the life of the man who made documentary films for FDR. This man did make films about healthcare and the issues of healthcare reform. However he never made a film about Warm Springs even though FDR died there. I think that the shame of illness, deformity or disease cannot just be lightly dismissed. We must prefer health to sickness in oder to remain sane. But I looked at the movie this evening and simply felt more convinced than ever that the autonomy and empowerment of the struggle were just as important as anything else about the Warm Spring stories. We need a healthcare plan that enrgizes and allows all people to struggle and work hard for their health and wellness. We certainly cannot afford to make it easy to do everything anyone would like to do. But we can help the brave to struggle and be enlightened by the fires of their courage. We must not allow human beings to be reduced on ly to file numbers and entries on actuarial tables when we are trying to understand all of what  human health means and how we are to care about promoting that health and wellness.

There are places in the past of this blog that are more relevant than others.

Despite all this nation’s problems there are many ways in which we excel. I also believe that we have ways of reaching for new goals that are far better than our current situation will reflect. I  lived in China and I liked it. There is a lot more diversity, federalism and tolerance in their system than a lot of people think. There is also a lot of coldblooded killing, fear and suffering in the lives of the Chinese that seldom get reported. I was not there all that long but I left behind people I really cared about and China has many problems that make me worry about those people. However, America is not like China in a whole lot of ways. All countries benefit from a certain federal impulse but not all depend upon it in the same way. For America to survive and prosper it must be pretty darn federalized,

On the surface that may seem to be an argument against establishing another agency at the national level. But the NWA would be chartered to do most of its work through a web of Community Clinics (although it would do some other things as well) and those clinics would be chartered to fit in with the laws and cultures of States, territories, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. If possible it should be able to work in some good agreement with Indian Nations as well. The National Wellness Agency would help us to answer thousands of questions in different ways that reflect community standards. It would not force countless groups of people to give up huge areas of freedom and autonomy to achieve a solution everyone would have to admit is a lowest common denominator at best. We must find an American solution and I believe that my proposed solution is one in keeping with our national character.

 

SO in this little post I do not offer any solutions and I do not address the situation in China that will need several good posts of its own, In this post I just throw out a few reminders that we are not having a complete discussion. This crisis may be one of the last chances we have to wake up to  many of the great underlying weaknesses in the current world order.

Work and Reward: Bluesy Connections

I am having a rougher day than some. It is time to deal with the usual tone of my observations about my life. They can be summed up as “I have done what I felt needed to be done. The result has not been great and the prospects overall are bleak.”  As an American living in the era of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump I find my own views of work more out of sync with others than most people.

Work and reward are not always linked. I am always glad when the work I do produces a reward. I am never one who expects that there will definitely be a reward for my work.

I suppose that we are in a time when a lot of people are experiencing trouble. I am not alone in feeling that life can be hard right now. I know it can be much harder for a lot of people than it is for me right now. Sixty thousand Americans have lost their lives in this crisis. I have not lost my life and nobody in my immediate family have lost their lives. I have been interested in work and have promoted the work of others as well as my own work for a period  of decades. I have worked and  sometimes I have been rewarded. Right now, I feel a bit more depressed than usual. But I have worked very hard and very many hours on many projects which are not really encouraged by my lot in life. I have written a good number of unpublished books, I have published this blog, I have spent a lot of time volunteering to help various people and causes. I have been active in working on projects which were not paid. I have had bigger players replace my work with their own and create ruinous results for all parties but themselves. I have worked sick, stayed home not to get sick, cared unpaid for the sick and I have been blamed and judged for all those actions. I have put up with the disdain and abuse of the successful who felt superior. But I do not blame everything on external forces — I have made choices and they have been costly. I did not have the freedom some self important idiots believed that I had but I did have some agency in my life. So I am where I am — I have often said life was hell. But there were times when I did not feel that way.

 

 

So what is work. I have included texts from  Pope John Paul II and Karl Marx as some indication of what people have thought about work.

From Pope John Paul II’s encyclical from the 1980’s

THROUGH WORK man must earn his daily bread1 and contribute to the continual advance of science and technology and, above all, to elevating unceasingly the cultural and moral level of the society within which he lives in community with those who belong to the same family. And work means any activity by man, whether manual or intellectual, whatever its nature or circumstances; it means any human activity that can and must be recognized as work, in the midst of all the many activities of which man is capable and to which he is predisposed by his very nature, by virtue of humanity itself. Man is made to be in the visible universe an image and likeness of God himself2, and he is placed in it in order to subdue the earth3. From the beginning therefore he is called to work. Work is one of the characteristics that distinguish man from the rest of creatures, whose activity for sustaining their lives cannot be called work. Only man is capable of work, and only man works, at the same time by work occupying his existence on earth. Thus work bears a particular mark of man and of humanity, the mark of a person operating within a community of persons. And this mark decides its interior characteristics; in a sense it constitutes its very nature.

Most people want to have a positive view of work. Within a context of  Christian spirituality, Catholic Social Teaching and Judeo-Christian morality the Pope seeks to lay out the value and meaning of work.

In many ways the capitalist system has eliminated drudgery for many people. But the drudgery Marx wrote about was very real for the Europe and United Kingdom of his time. It is still real for sweatshops in many countries.

Karl Marx publishing at about the time of the Spanish Flu Epidemic that resembles our own time had a vision of work in the modern economies that helped to forge Communist and Socialist entities and command economies of the future which are now mostly in our past. But his voice still resonates in many aspects of the world order we enjoy and also suffer from in so many ways.

The capitalist buys labour-power in order to use it; and labour-power in use is labour itself. The purchaser of labour-power consumes it by setting the seller of it to work. By working, the latter becomes actually, what before he only was potentially, labour-power in action, a labourer. In order that his labour may re-appear in a commodity, he must, before all things, expend it on something useful, on something capable of satisfying a want of some sort. Hence, what the capitalist sets the labourer to produce, is a particular use-value, a specified article. The fact that the production of use-values, or goods, is carried on under the control of a capitalist and on his behalf, does not alter the general character of that production. We shall, therefore, in the first place, have to consider the labour-process independently of the particular form it assumes under given social conditions.

Labour is, in the first place, a process in which both man and Nature participate, and in which man of his own accord starts, regulates, and controls the material re-actions between himself and Nature. He opposes himself to Nature as one of her own forces, setting in motion arms and legs, head and hands, the natural forces of his body, in order to appropriate Nature’s productions in a form adapted to his own wants. By thus acting on the external world and changing it, he at the same time changes his own nature. He develops his slumbering powers and compels them to act in obedience to his sway. We are not now dealing with those primitive instinctive forms of labour that remind us of the mere animal. An immeasurable interval of time separates the state of things in which a man brings his labour-power to market for sale as a commodity, from that state in which human labour was still in its first instinctive stage. We pre-suppose labour in a form that stamps it as exclusively human. A spider conducts operations that resemble those of a weaver, and a bee puts to shame many an architect in the construction of her cells. But what distinguishes the worst architect from the best of bees is this, that the architect raises his structure in imagination before he erects it in reality. At the end of every labour-process, we get a result that already existed in the imagination of the labourer at its commencement. He not only effects a change of form in the material on which he works, but he also realises a purpose of his own that gives the law to his modus operandi, and to which he must subordinate his will. And this subordination is no mere momentary act. Besides the exertion of the bodily organs, the process demands that, during the whole operation, the workman’s will be steadily in consonance with his purpose. This means close attention. The less he is attracted by the nature of the work, and the mode in which it is carried on, and the less, therefore, he enjoys it as something which gives play to his bodily and mental powers, the more close his attention is forced to be.

The elementary factors of the labour-process are 1, the personal activity of man, i.e., work itself, 2, the subject of that work, and 3, its instruments.

In America men like Samuel Gompers put forth a vision of work as represented by trade and labor unions which integrated the interests of workers into a modern industrial economy. In the era often called post-industrial there has been a lot of hard-going for labor unions and I am not sure anyone else has filled the void left by there decline. But today we face massive unemployment of the most challenging kind. We are beset by moral questions, social challenges and economic duress that is of a new breed.

As I navigate these times I look back on a life of work and to a future of uncertainty. I do not know how things will end up. I know there is much more on my mind than this small post can look at carefully. But I do wish all workers well today. Often we compete, interests clash and our systems sometimes do almost as much harm as good. But work is vital and we seek a path to a work economy suited to the new normal.

The Covid -19 Pandemic: The Crisis that Comes Late in Life

Today Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards meets Washington with President Donald Trump to discuss Louisiana’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is a time to remember that the crisis affecting my life is a crisis affecting the whole country and the whole world. But I am not a public official and do not exercise much leadership these days. So for me the struggle of this era is a personal struggle.

It would be nice to say that this current crisis makes me feel how little my own suffering is compared to other suffering. It would make me more likable to say that normal times seem much better compared to this crisis. However, none of that is true.  My general state of alienation has not changed for the better. I still long for a different vision of the future than is available. The struggles of many people and myself going back over a period however many years one chooses to look at and going on into the present has been marked at least by as many defeats as setbacks and victories. I think had more of the battles fought been won then the world would be in better shape right now.

This pandemic is something that comes after a long series of crises that I have known in my life and that life has gotten me to a certain place that is not any other place. I am where I am and am doing what I am doing.  What stage of life one is in depends on what life has brought the individual in question in previous decades or years. Over all this is the stage of life of trying to make a settlement with the past. Setting records straight and putting things in order. This is a period for setting up the exit. I know that for most world leaders my age is in their past but they have had very different lives.  Much of my life is a nightmare beyond my ability to ever transcend  in the remaining years of a lifespan.

While the Confederate heritage has gone from being very controversial to being more or less  universally maligned across the country. General Alfred Mouton’s death in the last major confederate battlefield victory. The Battle of Sabine Crossroads or the Battle of Mansfield was long after the high water mark of Gettysburg but although doom hung all about it was in victory that the old veteran of many  struggles who was not yet an old man gave his life. As fates go in the real and troubled world it is not such a bad fate.

 

 

This may well be the beginning of the end for me even if I get through the economic crisis and the infection crisis  more or less unscathed. But I can say that while it has been a battle so far it has not been an all out defeat. I was able to send a second donation through Family Missions  Company and my family there to a friend in the Philippines who is not only trying to help feed her village but trying to keep spirits up during the crisis.   The pictures below are just some of those that she sent me.  Giving children treats may not appeal to most agencies but I know such things can make a positive difference  in morale.The truth is that there are different ways in which each of us fight the battles of life. For me this struggle with the Coronavirus Pandemic is just another struggle and conflict on the road of life.

To simply remain engaged in the struggle is a kind of victory. Whether one is fighting for a truly lost cause or as part of a revolution not to be victorious until much later after very great cost there will be times on the route when the only thing to be said in favor of the campaign is that one gave battle to one’s enemy. Simply keeping an army in the field has to be enough.

The struggle of life is going on and has gone on for a good while but I am engaged both in my own personal struggle and in the larger struggle as well. Battle is of course a metaphor. But the metaphor is a compelling one in this case for me. I have hit some setbacks. My effort to publish one of my books has hit a big snag and that may be yet another obstacle I cannot overcome. I have had some health issues. My extensive repairs on the very old car I drive may still not be enough to have it in truly good shape when the time comes to press forward again.

I have managed to consolidate my finances but not enough feel secure in these trying times. I am grateful to have a good home where I can rest up and recharge my batteries. But I am also feeling the cost of being a late middle aged guy living alone in a crisis. I try to be really careful but I am not laboratory careful. I have tried to help my Parish (like a County) to achieve its good record with the virus so far. But I know that in the long run things are likely to get worse here before they get better and in the end I am likely to catch the virus. My mind, soul and body are taking their licks and even if I win this battle I am still facing the outcome of many years of coming up short. But to be in the struggle is a kind of victory.

 

Late Sunday Note

I will be brief today.  Although I get email notifications I just dropped in on The Norton View and I have been very interested to see what the virtual configuration of The House of Lords will be. But I also have been wondering if it will be the occasion to launch again The Lords of the Blog.  It is perhaps a biographical accident that I am engaged with those two blogs in the way that I am. But at this moment I have some time to work on restoring things that have lapsed such as my own blog. I also am thinking about that old place of discussion unlike anything else in the world.

We face a variety of challenges these days. I am facing some of these. But I am checking in because I have some data which may not rollover on to the next period tomorrow. I also have the hope of filing something online just after midnight. But I do not know if that will work or if there will be a lag of few hours.

Image

Health, Longevity and Community in the Pandemic

I have been eating better than usual and sleeping at least as well and as much during most of the quarantine associated with this pandemic. The truth is that this overall period of rest and sufficiency was interrupted by a couple of opposite realities. I had an injury or source of chronic pain that tormented me for a while. I seem to be mostly pulling out of that. I am feeling like the stresses of the quarantine itself or not really getting to me all that badly. I have remained connected to a lot of people and a few people a little more. If I do not get Covid-19 then it seems likely that I will come out of this crisis at least as healthy as I went into the crisis. Of course, that is a big if. I am a very long way from getting out of the woods. I will be out of the woods when I get a vaccine for the coronavirus afflicting the world, I have plans to get better healthcare but if the past is any guide then I will never get the vaccine. The other option is that I get the Covid-19 and maybe its next strain mutation and then build up enough immunity to be out of the woods. So far now this event means living with an added personal risk of death for an indefinite period of time.  . 

There is a great deal to try to understand as we deal with this pandemic and live our lives. Scarcely a business plan, a family tradition or leisure activity is left unaffected. So we have to try to redefine many things under the new conditions of the coronavirus pandemic. What will life mean in any of a thousand specific contexts with the Covid-19  pandemic factored in? That is the constantly and endlessly visible aspect of life. These days we are all beset by the same pandemic,

Someone who received a gift from someone to whom I gave a gift. We all experience the pandemic and the quarantine.

 

 

The pandemic is having a powerful impact on the world and on the United States of America where I live. What is going to be the outcome of this vast interruption. For me, the biggest question has been what is the place of this episode in my life story. I wonder often enough, is it the tragic episode where I survive the loss of those near and dear? Is it the final episode in my life — the very end of this mortal journey. Whatever readers believe or have experienced intimations of from beyond the curtain of death it is not the play that I have been performing since birth. The pandemic makes me aware of the fact that death may well have come for me just now may be waiting just outside for the proper time to introduce himself and he may wait without tiring or discouragement for quite a while to make my acquaintance.

But I do not want to forget that most people survive Covid-19 with little apparent short -term injury and even if kidney and heart damage occurs it does not seem likely to be a huge factor in the case of those with few symptoms during infection. So along with the efforts of many people to save lives that in theory include my life — there is also a good chance that I will survive this pandemic. In addition it takes more planning for me to prepare to keep living than it does to prepare for dying when even funerals are virtually impossible. Therefore, I am looking at the future as though I will live.

 

So what is the pandemic really? What does it seem like? For all of us it seems to some degree like we must constantly be dealing with the risk of any contact with those people we would like to contact and those with whom we come into contact because it is easier and more sane to come into contact. Thus is an era of separation as a primary objective when we think of other people. 

The layer of another reason to avoid getting together with other people is a matter that has greater or lesser significance for different people considering their state in life and other factors. For me there has been a long trend to isolation and a growing aversion to almost everybody as a close companion that predates any effects of the pandemic. One of the realities of this time is that I have invested what is a significant amount of money on top of what is an unspeakably huge amount of time to try to publish a book I call one of my novels . But this book is actually a mixture of meta-fiction and fiction. In the book there are connections between myself and other people that are discussed to some degree. But it is true that long before the virus rampaged across the world those connections had diminished in more than a few cases. So the pandemic is just another isolating factor. It isolates me from some family members, from some work colleagues and from some students. It makes my interaction in shopping and other contexts more strained. But it does not really turn a fully socially immersed person into a hermit in my case. Like a lot of people, I am trying to survive and get by in these trying times. I am not committed to a hardship of isolation that is entirely new to me.

 

Image from Josh Hild on Pexels

I watched a good bit of the NFL Draft on ABC. I was excited for LSU Quarterback Joe Burrows to continue his tour de force as NO 1 pick overall. I was happy as well for Justin Jefferson to continue the Jefferson family tradition of excellence at LSU and continue the Purple and Gold tradition at Minnesota. But for me he NFL has lost a good bit of its magic. So have a lot of other things — but I was aware of the sense of people reaching out for community. It is a limited kind of community in the first place but now it is somehow more tenuous.  I was glad to see the Draft-a-thon charity. I was happy to see the Head Coach Sean Peyton say that he feels well recovered.  I have been a football loving person and a good deal of what I did in my days involved football. But I never played anything close to a full and organized season.  But when I think of building community and of a legacy of engagement — I have to include football in those thoughts.

 

 

 

 

Football is one form of community that has not yet felt the full force of the pandemic. There is nothing determined yet about how great the overall impact of this pandemic will be. I think football is a kind of bridge on the landscape of my mind and life.  I never will be a football player in the sense that makes me comfortable saying I played football. But I have a lot of memories of playing football.

So there is the fact of isolation creeping into so many areas. But there is more than that going on here. We are aware as sport fans that sports are really not happening. We are aware of the role that sports have played in our lives and culture and yet we know that this huge absence is far more than we have experienced before but is only a relatively small part of all that is not happening. Churches, theaters, schools, synagogues, cafes, barbershops, hair salons, civic clubs, social clubs, casinos and family reunions are shuttered. Movies are not getting made. We are exposed to what life has to offer when all those forms of sharing are abolished. Although postponed and abolished are very different things the shock of so many postponements at once has the fell of some vast social revolution sweeping across our lives.

It seems like there is a good chance that my novel will not get self-published. But that is not so strange. I am used to being frustrated, However, if it is published it will bring a lot of factors to light and there will be plenty of distraction within its limited readership. Part of this coincides with events shaping the life of one real person deeply included in the meta-fiction portion of the book. I can live with how that will all play out and I think that other people can live with it as well. But the main thing to me is to get this book finally into the form of a decent book. Then I can decide how to pursue or abandon all my other literary projects. It is more like a chance to set a floor on these things than it is a chance to make things open up for a new career.

Poetry and The Path to A New Normal

The word Poetry sometimes embraces all the major genre  such as fiction, drama, literary history and literary biography.  This is a grave and extreme time which call for many artistic responses including responses which use words as the medium. Besides being the Earth Day of the Covid-19 Pandemic this was also an anniversary of the horrifying Earth Day of the  BP Oil Leak.  The two days are a strange contrast and there will be no place here to really discuss how different the two crises are. But both crises will be remembered here in this post about my own inner journey. But the Acadiana region and the world have always been important to me as has the great American natural heritage. I have responded to the crises and beauties of the natural order in words many times. Right now I am not writing so very much. Nor am I taking pictures during this challenging time.

I let  Earth Day pass without having commented upon it and uncelebrated on the screens of this blog or even noted in this blog this year.  I have left many things out in recent years — virtually everything . But here and here and here are links to the connections on the Earth Day theme in this blog in previous years. I did not post about Earth Day on Facebook either and there was also plenty to discuss. The world has responded to lessened pollution during the global slowdown.  Amazing observations of this phenomena have emerged from around the world.  I have watched a pair of owls killing and sharing their prey over several nights, a humming bird working a border of flowers around the oak tree  in front of the house I rent. The successes in my plantings and transplantings earlier this year. I may be making a mistake but I have been using this time as a time for giving, perhaps more than I can afford.

I am sharing some of those gifts here. But here is the relevant gift receipt for this particular crisis of the natural world and whatever opportunities may present themselves in this pandemic crisis. There are many worthy causes and I have given to many of them in small ways at various times. But we must do what we can to be people who address the needs of the planet we all share. A different type of person would look at my budget and say it was not responsible to for me to give anything. It might well be better citizenship to try and secure my wobbling financial survival. But I have lived on a different trajectory than merely securing myself for all of my life. So I gave a little to a cause that can afford to think large thoughts about the Earth’s problems.

The Nature Conservancy Logo
You Can Trust the Conservancy!
BBB Accredited Charity
Thank you, Frank!
Your gift of $25.75 ensures that the lands and waters you love get the protection they need.

I  am along way from putting together a coherent environmental program in this post. I have spelled out something closer in the model constitutions that were written to inspire a debate and dialog that never really ensued. The images below are more decoration than anything else but they illustrate a few connections to the Earth that have been highlighted in this blog.  I am leaving out many other things.

I was not in the mood to celebrate the rest the Earth is getting because the way it has come about depresses me in a number of ways.  Yet it is not possible for me to fail to celebrate this chance to see what a time of Natural Sabbath can do. It is one of the signs of hope in a troubled and troubling view of the future.

There is not a lot that is lighthearted in my experience of the pandemic and quarantine at this point. I hope that this is the worst my  experience gets — that I am not all that cheerful. I have plenty of time to reflect on the choices, actions and experiences that have gotten me to the place where I am in life. I really do not need  that because I have had so much time alone and have spent so much time focusing on what my own choices have and have not meant. I am aware, as I often have been; that I am not getting close to where I have felt the need to be in my life. because of the human crisis I also donated to a local cause helping to confront the coronavirus crisis head-on. Here is one of my receipts for that kind of thing. I replaced a few digits of the transaction ID with asterisks to protect myself and used a plain text facsimile of that receipt.

Donation Details
Date: April 23, 2020
Transaction ID: ****-9658-****-6886
Purpose: Acadian Museum
Reference: Sewing with Savoie
Donation to: Acadian Museum
Donation from: frank64summers3@gmail.com
Donation amount: $10.00 USD

There have been plenty of times when $36.00 would make a crucial difference in my own life. There will be plenty more times like that if I survive this current crisis and whatever crises are coming next. So why remain engaged. I am barely a blip on the economic screen — why try to live at all as a part of the solution?

As I often do, I am raising questions here that transcend anything I can address in this post. Only in reading a great deal of this blog can one answer the question of what I think are the reasons for myself or other individuals to connect with larger goals or issues when their lives are themselves not all that balanced and secure.

This is a time when among other things, I have begun an effort to self publish a novel. The fact that I am going that route is a pretty good indication that my life as a whole and my efforts with the novel have not been very successful. If one sells a novel and then later buys it back for self-publishing that can be a sign of success. If one writes a book for one’s business or nonprofit organization then self-publishing can be a sign of success. But to write a big challenging novel about big things and self-publish it is a sign that one is trying to wrap up one’s life’s work in a way that can make some sense and give humane dimensions to the misery of the hellish life one has lived. It is a rational effort to preserve some possibility of good and still be engaged in the present with the work that has consumed much of one’s past. But the company has a lot of appealing qualities and I am hopeful that we can hammer out the details and the novel can get a chance to sell at least a few legitimate copies.  It is not a prospect that excites euphoria and I am aware of more and more work on this endless project which does speak to many of my views about larger issues in the world,

But if in the end I am able to self-publish the novel along the lines that I have thus far negotiated then I will be happy to try to promote it within reason for the rest of my life and perhaps for the remainder of the life of this blog if it comes out while I still have a blog. For me the biggest  connection  of poetry with this crisis has been my spoof of Lying Eyes by the Eagles.

City girls just seem to find out early
How to open doors with just a smile
Wrap her hand and she won’t have to worry
She’ll dress up her face in the new style
Late at night a big old house gets lonely
I guess every form of refuge has its price
And it breaks her heart to think that there are only
A couple of items left for her to sanitize
So she tells her cat she must go out for the evening
To get supplies she knows are running down
The cat doesn’t know where she’s going as she’s leaving
She’s headed for the price-gouging side of town
You can’t hide your desperate eyes
And your smile behind a thin disguise.
I thought by now you’d realize
There ain’t no way to hide your desperate eyes.

On the other side of town a boy is waiting
With clorox wipes and bleach that he could steal
She drives on through the night anticipating
‘Cause he’ll make her house feel the way it used to feel
She rushes to his truck, they’re close together
She whispers that it’s only for a while
She swears that soon she’ll stay apart forever
She pulls away and leaves him with a smile
She gets home and pours herself a strong one
And stares out at the stars up in the sky
Another night it’s gonna be a long one
She draws the shade and hangs her head to cry
She wonders how it ever got this crazy
She thinks about the job she had at school
Did she get tired or did she just get lazy?
That job’s so far gone she feels just like a fool
My oh my, you sure know how to arrange things
You set it up so well, so carefully
Ain’t it funny how your new life sure did change things?
You try to be the girl you used to be
You can’t hide your cryin’ eyes
Your stock of tp is in demise.
I thought by now you’d realize
There ain’t no way to hide your cryin’ eyes
There ain’t no way to hide your cryin’ eyes

 

But even as i am struggling to reach the clam places where I do my best reading, I remain a person who has read a great deal. My life is a lot about reading and writing — but is not only about that.  I have spent a great deal of time on this blog. It is not entirely clear why I have done so but it is clear that I have pursued some causes and hobbies. I have also neglected some of these few areas that I am interested in beyond my own obligations day by day and year by year. There may never be a novel published which addresses my visions of what a responsible citizen of the the human race and Earth must deal with  — but I am working on it and I have spent real money as well as a vast amount of time on this project. The novel is much more complex than the current taste will support and there is no reason to believe that it will turn a huge profit as I have planned to release it but it is very important to me.

The Pandemic has felt like the best time so far to push to get this novel out in some form of publication before I die. But I am no going to discuss the details of the novel here. I am going discuss other literary works in this post and merely alert people that I hope to have a novel coming out soon.  It is a time to explore new aspects of the blog as we evolve into new manifestations of society, social distancing is something poets have dealt with.

Poets like Neruda have discussed why there is something special and worth noting about a man’s desire for and fondness for the woman too far away for him to touch. Many things good and bad can be said about love from afar. But Neruda simply attempts and honest contrast between love that is hot intense sex close at hand and the kind that brings a distant woman closer into his heart. It is a poem worth thinking about these days.

This blog is mostly in English but here is a Spanish Poem.

On the other hand we see the horrors that lurk in the pulling apart of people suggested in one of the most studied and analyzed poems in English. Do we allow this time to drive up ancient horrors suppressed by Christian civilization even more than recent decades have allowed such things? Do we allow the response to lose contact with the wiser minds that set the response in motion — like a falcon leaving its master and not returning? Do we hope mindlessly for some great fulfillment of prophetic potential like the second coming of Christ — when we ought to be seeking to avoid the cheap and tawdry catastrophes that may well beset us.

The Second Coming
BY WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

n/a
Source: The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats (1989)

So what will the new world order that is emerging look like? How can new art in words help a better order to emerge? As always I leave more question to answer and resolve few questions at the end of thispost.

The Strains of Isolation: Quarantine Status Quo

This is a difficult thing, to be quarantined due to an epidemic, There have been many comparisons to the Spanish Flu of the latter part of the decade of the  1910s. We have a lot of things that are the same in this epidemic as they were in the early 20th century and there  are also things that are different. Overall the differences in the two eras are well illustrated in my room and life from which this post comes. I was married to someone of a compatible background and we lived together for eight years. Had that happened  the odds that I would have been divorced back then would be much lower. The chance that I would be childless in that era had I loved as I have would have been much, much smaller (though one cannot say nonexistent). So I am much more alone. I am a skilled gardener but amid my own personal brand of chaos related to the pandemic I have not been like the larger trend and gardened more — rather I have gardened less in every way {but still a good bit this spring) and I have not put in a vegetable garden which I had planned to this year but have not done in a long time.   The only food crops I planted in the last decade were a half done fruit trees and they were very young and not all survived to give fruit and so we had a very few and small harvests before the trees and the house and land around them were sold. So, no garden is another likely difference with the 1918 era.

The there is the wired world in which it is possible for me to put this post together on my laptop and distribute through my website located in the wonderful world of the internet. There is nothing that would be part of our lives that would have been harder for my ancestors in 1918 to understand,

Also I live in America, I work I have enough money for basic necessities most of the time and give to other causes but I have dealt with pain to the point of limited sleep and some disability for a week and have not tried to get medical help or prescription drugs. That is because I  almost never do get any medical care. I am much shaped in my life by my repeated failure to get health insurance . Like much of my life the story is long miserable and to people with very different lives hard to believe. But I have had it for years at a time and I have mostly not had it. This year I had four realistic plans to end up with health insurance right now, I invested time, money and energy into those plans and I ended up here with no health insurance. In America today that means no medical care more than in almost any society in the history of the world at any time — at least for certain kinds of people.  I am the product of a long time of the lack of diagnoses and the wear and tear of not getting more help for chronic injury than my over the counter pain killers and dietary supplements, using my over the counter  sling and a homemade ice pack along with aspirin and Naproxin.  But on the other hand, others somewhat like me have become opioid dependent and sometime because of the kind of chronic pains I suffer from without an acute injury, I have had acute injuries but all of them were a long time ago. But the aches and pains I have now can be severe enough.

My own life is much shaped by living in a world where a vast amount is spent on healthcare and in general i know that if I cannot sleep, can barely function and generally am sick and weary there is probably no health care for me. That is not really the way it was in 1910. The was wide access to very inferior healthcare of varied types for many people. People paid doctors and nurses with chickens, eggs, a painted shed, car repairs or a mowed lawn if they could not come up with the money. Doctors often got discounts at local shops for years based on performing medical services. People also had gardens, belonged to functional extended families and had religious institutions and fraternal life insurance organizations that buried the dead and cared for the bereaved. The nuclear family was a costly and often troublesome institution that often performed better under extreme stress than it did with all of its foibles and iniquities in the daily run of things. That nuclear family has much declined.

In dealing with this Covid-19 crisis the responses will have to deal with what is the same about pandemics and what is different in the two pandemics. In America ans much of the world the pandemic of the late teens was followed by the roaring twenties and not a Great Depression. But has the world changed?

Some people think that the world has changed a lot. You can read the article here that the following charts come from  which represents a conservative American critique of some aspects of social development in recent years.There is a lot which goes into making conclusions about this debate over social policy. But what few can debate is that some things have changed.

 

The world is not America, But to some degree, the disappearance of the society America aspired to be most in the 1950s marks a change in the aspirations if much of the world. America has changed the way it has and has done so without national universal socialized medicine and while that may have had benefits in technological innovation, diverse treatment options and resources available for emergencies — it has certainly led to the suffering misery and death of millions of Americans. Those people fall into identifiable blocks. One of the most identifiable blocks is composed of rural white men like me,  People of color who cling to small businesses in  dying neighborhoods,illegal aliens who work hard, usually pay taxes  and increasingly are hated and mistreated, single mothers who have one child student loans and a very good paying part-time job —these are all part of the mosaic of people who cannot get health care often enough. There are hosts of people who have their bankcards declined when the transactions never reached their bank, whose wifi crashes and who are just not liked much by most bureaucrats and when all this web . Decades of this kind of inability to operate on the mandated playing field in the game of American life is more than a set of frequent inconveniences. It become a way of assuring a shortened, more painful and less happy life.The Covid-19 effects will play into that world. One impact is that every time I donate plasma I have to certify that I feel well  and healthy that day, So that is the main reason that I have not been able to donate in over a week. That is my longest break in a good while. I worry about those needing the supply. I also miss the screening of various health parameters. Those are useful health data points but not healthcare if you are ill you quit getting the screenings.

It is virtually impossible  for people who are never excluded from the  world of those with access to healthcare and health insurance to know what that is like. The  weeks and days in which  older white men in rural America like me rotate ice packs, over the counter braces and  a sling and spend time alternating losing sleep to pain and passing out exhausted when they get enough homemade self care to blot out the pain — This is the America I know. I know well the world of those  too young for Medicare and who will be too beat up to live long once they get to Medicare. The life expectancy of white men in America has long been in decline. You can read some of these facts end view related clips here. So many of us struggle and nobody outside of these groups I mentioned are able to see the impossibility of enrolling in Obamacare or medicaid or making ends meet. White men with health insurance are dying as well but I believe a detailed study would show folks in my category leading the race to the grave by a mile. Many of us try to find ways to make our society make sense even when it cannot. One thing we can do when we cannot negotiate a payment plan for our very rare emergency care when we know all the pain, suffering and shortening of life we are asked to endure. One thing is we can find nonprofits who will take the little money we have to spare. Before Obamacare there were more charity community clinics that accepted donations many shut down because “everybody has care now”. Life on the outside when from very bad to horrible in ways nobody should have to know. But we can give to non profits like RIP Medical Debt.  I have and the process is gratifying. The text below is what their website gives you to look at when you make a donation.

Thank you for your donation!


Your donation to RIP Medical Debt will abolish 100 times its value in unpaid medical debt — which contributes to more than 60 percent of the bankruptcies in our country. Your fellow citizens, your community, perhaps even your next-door neighbor, all of us thank you for your care and generosity.

Please check your various inboxes for an email acknowledgment and tax receipt.

To stay up to date, join us on Twitter and Facebook. We look forward to keeping in touch.

Sincerely,

Executive Director

Men in America and white men in rural areas most of all are dying of varied forms of isolation, irrelevance and disaffection. That is really manifest at all sorts of levels. The larger idea of a declining white percentage of the population is just one factor. A general study that mentions that for someone who has not read about it is found here.  But I am not including the most relevant studies in any way in this post. One definite reality is that we have not had as many native born white children born in America as  there were native born American white children turning eighteen in a very long time, That is in a country with rapid population growth by many standards. So a lot of rural white men feel discarded and isolated and badly treated, The Me Too movement has a secondary effect of showing that society has tolerated all kinds of abuse against women but is just not as tolerant of the foibles of husbands. Single men are cut off from family as single women are not.  Mr. Mom is a rarity and the title answers many questions. In many ways women struggle in this new order  more than men. However that is very debatable, but for many men isolation  from marriageable women means poverty, depression and early death. Maybe things can change in this crisis  — I have some ideas as to how but we shall see. I am getting to the point of trying to remind people of things to think about without much argument beyond that.

It is not easy to be alone. There are several meanings of the word easy. Sometimes being alone is the less difficult option. But while it may give comfort and sometimes it may offer convenience.   It rarely offers both convenience and real peaceful flow of life’s restorative forces. I wonder what the pandemic will do to those who have become isolated in various ways. I have more tolerance for the idea of isolation than most people struggling with this new reality.  I have been alone in a variety of ways for a fairly long time. The sense of isolation has to do with the various ways in which men and women interact and how women are integrated into society. Only after all of this does it directly relate to how men are regarded by society when considered as a particular class of citizens.

But isolated people are still citizens, human beings, relatives and play other roles in society. I try to do what I can. Even in charity there are more internet and transaction failures in my life that in the life of most committed donors in the country. Here is a recognition of another donation:

Thank You For Your Gift!

Your incredible act of generosity will have a profound effect on someone’s life. In fact, your gift today will help us provide 150 meals to families in need. That’s truly phenomenal – and something we hope you take great pride in!

And it’s not just food you’re giving with your donation today, it’s also hope. When a bag of food or groceries is placed in the hands of someone struggling with hunger you can actually see their spirit lift as this one realization takes hold: someone cares.

And today, that someone is you.

See below for a confirmation of your gift. You’ll also receive this same information in your inbox.


I had a connection or two in the world and my family ties to Family Missions Company which have enabled me to help a few people in this worldwide crisis whom I do not personally know. I have the capacity to do what I can do without infrastructure of a more integrated life. These last  photos show people holding the bags of rice created in the pictures in the last post. So some things can be done.  She also sent me a bio f each family represented by the woman receiving the rice and why her family had not gotten government food aid. Some connection networks endure. I have also been able to advertise the various feeding programs provided by employer to the families of their students in my Facebook posts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Struggle to Deal with the Small Stuff in the Big Mess

There is a joy in doing good things and keeping them to yourself. However, there is not as much room in my life for the secret and sacred joys as there used to be. So I am going to tell the story of some good I was able to do in the midst of dealing with this corona virus pandemic. Maybe it will inspire other people to do good as well.

I am blessed to be able to work on this blog. The fact that I am blogging here indicates that a great number of aspects of my life and environment are still working. It is a time to have a perspective on the things that we are dealing with that transcends our sense of the urgent. I have had a lot of little challenges to deal with and I am a worrier by nature. I can abandon myself to an adventure if it is the right kind of adventure and I can bear up under suffering of certain kinds. But sitting at home alone this much makes me prone to think quite a bit about my aches, pains and frustrations. I do not lack for aches, pains and frustrations right now,

I recently was able to send some money to a friend in the Philippines who is suddenly quarantined with her extended family in their compound and only one has a real un-quarantined job. She explained all the reasons she was food insecure and with the help of my family in Family Missions Company and a little giving on my part we were able to get her some supplies and she in turn is adding the fruit of her garden and some of these staples in a smaller but really needed gift to the needy compounds on either side. That is about all   I myself can really do for the worldwide crisis.

When one considers the vast tragedy moving forward across the world these tiny efforts do not seem like much. I have also tried to bring attention to the bigger efforts of parties with greater resources. But the party involved not only acted responsibly for her own extended family but reached out to help  food insecure neighbors.  For me lately that is more success than I have been able to hope  for as a normal result — many of my efforts have been lost in various forms of chaos. So I was happy about that.

Now most readers will surmise that I do not have the gold standard of accountability and transparency in this  little bit of charity but I feel pretty good about it. In my last post I mentioned the gratitude that I sincerely feel to the federal governnment of the United States and its leaders for the help I have gotten. I am also grateful to Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards and the people at Louisiana Workforce  for the way they have expedited unemployment benefits so far. But I worry about whether I will get the benefits for as long into the program as I would like and think I should. I have a friend in a non profit who is worried about whether his CPA and lawyer will convince the governmemt that his organization is a federation of chapters each with less than 500 people and therefore eligible for payroll protection. If they are classed as a single monolithic organization then they will get nothing under the program he hopes will keep them afloat while they figure out what to do. Another friend is worried about whether he can qualify for his loan to be used for the most pressing needs his business has if does get a special SBA disaster loan. We all have anxieties about the wording and function of programs meant ot help in these tough times.

The media has done a pretty good job of showing how Americans are facing this crisis.  This morning CBS This Morning  featured someone doing good whom I had featured on my Facebook Profile earlier. You should be able to read that article from a local paper associated with Gannet  a major US newspaper publisher right here by clicking on the highlighted word. The CBS link showing Christine  and a few others doing their part should appear here. The story is the more meaningful because Christine Savoie is linked to the Acadian Museum to which I have been connected for quite some time.

But these activities and donations have involved very little of my time. Mostly, I have been involved in my own affairs. It has not been a time when I have been particularly distinguished by altruism.  There has been a good bit of anxiety, some depression and some physical pain. I seem quite able to fill most of my thoughts with my own needs and problems,

So the truth is that a lot of my mental energy is focused on myself. I am pretty involved in dealing with my own concerns. This blog has always been a kind of hybrid for documenting my own concerns and also discussing the various larger events that have caught my attention. Many of those unusual events have been crises of one kind or another. But this is a crisis of a different type.

The  truth is that we each came to this crisis with a set of problems and worries that already commanded our time and attention. I have projects I have invested enormous effort in that simply refuse to prosper and still are not prospering, I am lonely, I have missed windows of protocols and bureaucratic regulation on areas that affect my life and where I honestly do not think I could have done better. I am tired and lonely. But, as I try to deal with all the little stuff I try to be grateful for how little I have been hurt by the big crisis so far.

Riding Off Into the Sunset

This is a troubling time for the people and institutions who will endure but for many parts of society and many people it is farewell to the world of the living. Farewell to continuing existence in this reality. Musicians like Ellis Marsalis, Bill Withers, John Prine, Joe Diffie and the others we have been losing cannot be replaced. In American popular culture we have the concept  and film trope of heroes and cowboys riding off into the sunset. Many icons here and in other countries will be doing that here and now. There is too much of this kind of loss going on in the USA for me to even attempt to keep track of the same kinds of losses elsewhere.

Photo by Kelly Lacy from Pexels

I am sitting on my couch typing on this Easter Tuesday morning my arm is in a sling from hurting myself in me sleep. That happens about once a year and that is why I own a sling. Despite all the physical work I  do in a typical year it is usually a sleeping injury that puts me in this condition. I hope that you all are doing alright who are reading this. I am starting to show some signs of wear and tear. I am also aware of all of those who are leaving us in this pandemic. The losses of important influences seem to pile up more each day. But we also know that some of our world will stay the same and all of us have some ties to traditions and institutions forged in tough times.

 

This is a time for dealing with the fact that life is not ever likely to be quite the same after the pandemic.  My life has been about moving beyond  various phases for a long time. It has not been a wasted life but it has not been a life that has led to much solid success. But it does seem that familiar virtues lie the heroic dedication of health care workers facing disease and the generosity of people to charities are on view, I personally am grateful for the largess of the government of my country to the millions including me whose lives have been upended. I am grateful to President Donald Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for finding the way to work together. Today, I hurt my shoulder and have all the stress of the pandemic accentuated by my physical injury but I am not facing financial crisis yet because of Unemployment Insurance benefit expansion and the Economic Impact Payment. I am grateful to have this relief. There are many other people getting other benefits as employers, spouses and employers for which I am not eligible. But I am getting old and tired and am grateful to get my piece of the pie. Maybe I can survive this crisis with a semblance of having my life intact.

Earlier in this blog I spent a lot of pages on grandiose plans and proposals for reform and radical change. I am too tired and run down to think much about those failures. I just think mostly about my life as a series of moments, days and experiences that might make up a life’s work and journey that I am not ashamed to have traveled.

The images in mt mind may be a review of life just before it ends…

or a pause before the journey and the work resume,

Tonight I am noting but not yet reacting to the fact that the United States has stopped funding the WHO. I am noting but not yet reacting to the fact there are real breaks in the supply chain. I am noting but not yet reacting to the fact that I am struggling to deal with the prospect of extended isolation. I am noting but not yet reacting to the cost some errors a few people in my set of connections made just before the crisis that are now amplified by these events, I have not gotten around to thinking about what all these disparate thoughts mean when they are called into the same context.

I do have to say goodbye to the resumption of my school schedule, The Governor of Louisiana has indicated that the school year will not open in the normal sense again for this academic year. I am trying to figure out all the ins and outs of the pandemic for myself. Substitute teaching for the Vermilion Parish School Board has been part of my life and income for 8 of the last 20 years.

The journey of a person through the years of life is not ever all that simple. I have been remembering the low lights and  highlights of my life. In my own case, the world today is very interesting but also not much my concern. I am not so much looking to change anything as I a looking to set my house in order on the way off the stage. I am not even at all confident that I can do that effectively.

 

I still find the need to comment on the great events of the day, I still believe what I believe and surmise what I surmise.  I have never  been so incredibly sure that my time for the shaping of larger events has come largely to an end, For me the focus must be on my personal final chapter or two for the remainder of my time on this earth.

This sense of how a crisis could come suddenly was in my lecture at the LHA  annual meeting when I spoke about the Cajun response to 1930. A sense of sudden sweeping crisis  was present in  what I wrote in this blog  just before the election of Donald Trump. I wrote this as part of one of my last posts before I started letting this blog go without  even trying to keep it going.

Back in 1860 few if any Americans expected the cataclysm which was about to engulf the nation. Even once they conceded that war was a formal likely hood on paper and maybe probable on the field most Americans believed that if started it would end quickly with their side victorious. James Chestnut, South Carolina’s senator and the famous Confederate diarist Mary’s husband, offered to personally drink all the blood shed in the struggle. What happened was an all out clash of millions and an ordeal of years. William J. Cooper Jr.’s book, We Have the War Upon Us does a good job of capturing the sense of that precipice on which America stood. Perhaps the most important lesson to learn from the last year or so before the actual shooting started is how unexpected it seemed to so many.

There is no way to reach any really clear assessment of the Obama Presidency just yet. He may have saved us from a Great Depression, maybe not. He may have done much better in the War on Terror than his predecessor who allowed the attacks on 9/11 which changed us so much. Or he may be responsible for disasters which have engulfed Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Iran, Israel, Libya and Tunisia and other countries in a struggle which will endure for generations. He may have solved the fundamental problems of our healthcare crisis or he may have plunged us deeper into a new healthcare crisis. Certainly there will be no answers that satisfy those who are the most demanding observers and analysts right now. But the election is not in fifty or a hundred years. The election of the next President of the United States is Tuesday. There were fewer prominent Democrats on my ballot than I ever remember seeing in so many races and I usually vote for at least a few Democrats but this time I voted almost entirely for Republicans. However, I did vote for Chris Keniston for President of the United States. His Veterans Party will not take the White House however. So who will take it? Either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will almost certainly take the Presidency. I am not happy with who we leave behind nor either option to which we now proceed. But I do hope that we will have a peaceful transition to a new administration.

Tonight, I am responsive to who I always was but I want arrange record and prepare for my relatively near exit. I do not want to jump much into the fray that matters, I am tired and the sky shows many signs of sunset.

Easter Sunday and New Starts

Maybe this is the most globally relevant Easter of my life. There are few times in history when more of the world has been hoping for a deliverance, a triumph over death and a coming forth from a sealed place of inactivity. But it is a time when I am not going to church and millions of others with whom I am connected are not going to church.

Christ is risen. I watched mass from New York, cooked nice food but not to share. Had a chocolate bunny my Mom managed to get to me in the restrictions of  the pandemic semi-quarantine. Exchanged Easter greetings with many. It was not a bad day, a little sad. But the big news of the day is how much the celebration of Easter has been interrupted. The image of the church below was taken by me but not today. I have not left the house  and yard where I live today.

Donors Dinner 2014 -- cameraphone 058

The St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church Where I was baptized, made my First Communion and was wed.

 

Here we are at a place to remember Easter differently. Links to my home Parish mass are available on their website and a link to one of the hymns from the streamed social distancing Easter Liturgy is available   here . I am also aware that my family members in some numbers went to Easter Praise in the Pasture on our family farm where families were kept at least five to six yards apart. I was not invited and really have done less and less religious stuff each year — I do not know if I would have gone. Probably not. I would have been my own cluster. Really the holidays can be a sad time every  year and this year is sad in a more universal way. So I must say that as we all struggle with this great pandemic we have to know that this is a struggle for a new life. Just as the Resurrected Christ was always known by all Christians to be different than a continuation of the historical Jesus of Nazareth  who shared our human condition, in the same way what is born after surviving a crisis like this is always somehow new. We must try to make the reality that comes out of this better in some way. Right now I deal fully engaged in just trying to survive the current crisis and be in a position to continue what I already found to be a life that was often more bitter than sweet and more troubled and frustrating than peaceful and hopeful.

Christ Rises to a New Life

I am aware of all the suffering and know that I too may fall to this virus before all is over. But I am aware that I have to think most about coming out of this able to meet the demands of the new normal whatever they are. In this passage there is the Easter holiday and that is today. Let us praise as best we each can. Let us find the Alleluia we can sing. Easter on Earth was never about perfection for us but about rejoicing in a promise of which we had a great mysterious sign.

So may this spring be a season of new life and hope for us.