Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Words That Helped Me Through This Horrible Day

Wow, today sucked. I was on the verge of tears several times, especially when my students were doing group work and I noticed on the web that Kerry conceded, and I told them. I use so much humor in the classroom they didn't believe me at first. We were covering the Beatitudes today, and it was instructive to talk about Jesus' message and how it is mostly polar opposite of what the Christian Coalition is claiming. I've decided to do something about it, to take action. I'm planning a popular book to educate people about the real Jesus and not Pat Robertson's and Ralph Reed's version. To get through this difficult day, I found comfort in the words of the following:

Martin Luther King Jr's closing words during his speech Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence (April 4, 1967) by the way, I was 68 days old at that time In this speech I found many parallels to the Iraq war.

We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The "tide in the affairs of men" does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out deperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: "Too late." There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. "The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on..." We still have a choice today; nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation.

We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world -- a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.

Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter -- but beautiful -- struggle for a new world. This is the callling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be another message, of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.

As that noble bard of yesterday, James Russell Lowell, eloquently stated:

Once to every man and nation
Comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth and falsehood,
For the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God's new Messiah,
Off'ring each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever
Twixt that darkness and that light.

Though the cause of evil prosper,
Yet 'tis truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold,
And upon the throne be wrong:
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
And behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow
Keeping watch above his own.

Al Franken posted this entry on his blog
Anytime you lose like this, there’s a certain amount of Wednesday-morning quarterbacking and woulda-coulda-shoulda. I have no regrets myself, but as I look back at Kerry’s campaign, there are a couple of points where, if he had it all to do over again, I think he should have done it differently.

For example, in the first debate, Kerry announced that he would put our national security decisions in the hands of France. He said very explicitly that we would have to pass a global test before using force. I think a lot of us watching at the time thought that that was a mistake.

Also, of course, the flip-flops, especially those about Iraq. Voting, as you know, for the war, then against it, for it, then against it having, as Sean Hannity said, literally 80 different positions. I wish he could have chosen one position and stuck with it.

Kerry’s decision to ban the Bible. That was a huge mistake, especially in very Christian areas. That might have gone over fine in atheist communities, but it cost him big everywhere else.

And then proposing a health care system that would impose an enormous federal bureaucracy and give medical decisions to paper-pushers in Washington, and in France.

And going back to Vietnam, the way he lied about what happened, inflicted those wounds on himself to get those medals, and then threw them out; I think that was a mistake. Of course, that was a mistake that he made back then, decades ago. But he could have been more honest about it now.

A lot of people talk about Bush’s record, and what he might do in the next term, but what this really comes down to is character. And ceding your doctor’s authority to France, and the flip-flops, and shooting himself in the leg to win a medal; I guess those things just overcame the awful, failed presidency of George W. Bush.

You know I wouldn’t mind losing an election if it were an honest disagreement, based on facts, over values and policy. But that’s not what happened. A large majority of Bush supporters went to the polls believing things that were false. For example, any of the above. They believed lies about Kerry, and they believed lies about Iraq, and they believed lies about Bush.

We’re not going to heal this country as long as we have a president who won't be accountable, who won’t tell the truth, who is willing to campaign with a vicious dishonesty that is unprecedented.

After Barry Goldwater was crushed by Lyndon Johnson in 1964, the right decided to take a long view. They poured literally billions of dollars into creating the right-wing infrastructure that dominates our politics today. They built up the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Media Research Center, and now Fox News Channel and many other organizations, above and below the radar. Though they won the White House in 1968, it took them thirty years to reach their ascendancy in 1964.

Our side just started. Air America went on the air seven months ago. Normally, incumbent presidents either win by a landslide or lose by a landslide, and a year or two ago, people thought it would be an overwhelming Bush victory. It wasn’t. For an incumbent wartime president, this was a close race. And we’ve created a movement to take this country back. Even though we didn’t do it this time, I believe that we will still do it.

The other side wants us to get demoralized, but we are going to fight. We are going to fight every step of the way.

Round two starts now.

Third, This helped a bitTragic Gaiety by Bart Everson
It doesn’t take a genius to discern that, even though the election results are not official yet, there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth, not to mention rending of garments and beating of breasts, amongst those who voted for Kerry and those who despise the Bush administration.

But that’s absolutely the wrong attitude!

Yes, the results of this election seem overwhelmingly negative, with conservatives sweeping into office and anti-gay measures passing everywhere. But tough times call for courage, not despair. Suck it up, people.

Now is not the time to weep and bemoan the state of affairs in our country. Instead, it is all the more necessary that we adopt an attitude of tragic gaiety. We need to be brave. We need to laugh in the face of doom.

We need to look square into the face of what our country is becoming, and redouble our resolve to change it. And we need to be joyful, relishing the task ahead of us, or we’ll just burn out.

Remember, voting is a basic duty in an alleged democracy, but it is really the least of our duties, and one of the least effective ways to make real change, given the system we have. We are not going to vote our way out this mess.

Today is the International Peace Holiday, a good time to reflect on what we can do to make our world a better place. Locally, some people are gathering at Lee Circle from 3-6 p.m. for “public art, public expression, public dissent, public fellowship in a public space.”

Do whatever you need to do, but do it with celebratory anger. Show ‘em a fist and a smile.

Finally, my favorite, Cassandra's words from Agamemnon (remember, Cassandra was cursed with the gift of understanding the future but nobody was able to understand her)

Home cursed of God! Bear witness unto me,
Ye visioned woes within-
The blood-stained hands of them that smite their kin-
The strangling noose, and, spattered o'er
With human blood, the reeking floor!

Ah! can the ghostly guidance fail,
Whereby my prophet-soul is onwards led?
Look! for their flesh the spectre-children wail,
Their sodden limbs on which their father fed!

God! 'tis another crime-
Worse than the storied woe of olden time,
Cureless, abhorred, that one is plotting here-
A shaming death, for those that should be dear
Alas! and far away, in foreign land,
He that should help doth stand!

O wretch, O purpose fell!
Thou for thy wedded lord
The cleansing wave hast poured-
A treacherous welcome
How the sequel tell?
Too soon 'twill come, too soon, for now, even now,
She smites him, blow on blow!

God! a new sight! a net, a snare of hell,
Set by her hand--herself a snare more fell
A wedded wife, she slays her lord,
Helped by another hand!
Ye powers, whose hate
Of Atreus' home no blood can satiate,
Raise the wild cry above the sacrifice abhorred!

Away, away--keep him away--
The monarch of the herd, the pasture's pride,
Far from his mate! In treach'rous wrath,
Muffling his swarthy horns, with secret scathe
She gores his fenceless side! Hark ! in the brimming bath,
The heavy plash--the dying cry--
Hark--in the laver--hark, he falls by treachery!

Ah well-a-day! the cup of agony,
Whereof I chant, foams with a draught for me
Ah lord, ah leader, thou hast led me here--
Was't but to die with thee whose doom is near?

Ah for thy fate, O shrill-voiced nightingale!
Some solace for thy woes did Heaven afford,
Clothed thee with soft brown plumes, and life apart from wail--
But for my death is edged the double-biting sword!

Woe, Paris, woe on thee! thy bridal joy
Was death and fire upon thy race and Troy!
And woe for thee, Scamander's flood!
Beside thy banks, O river fair,
I grew in tender nursing care
From childhood unto maidenhood!
Now not by thine, but by Cocytus' stream
And Acheron's banks shall ring my boding scream.

Woe for my city, woe for Ilion's fall!
Father, how oft with sanguine stain
Streamed on thine altar-stone the blood of cattle, slain
That heaven might guard our wall!
But all was shed in vain.
Low lie the shattered towers whereas they fell,
And I--ah burning heart!--shall soon lie low as well.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow! It only took about 5 beers for me!
Dramatic change usually comes after disasters. Bush II might be bigger than 9/11. If it is, then we might be more willing to ask ourselves why everybody hates America. If we begin there (the optimal starting point) maybe change can happen. If Bush II is as bad as I think it will be (Some moron on NPR said Bush would try to be more concialliatory and seek to build bridges this term!), America will have to change.