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Posts Tagged ‘Joe Biden’

Rockwell Kent- Clover Fields



President-elect Joe Biden is on a path that will show him winning close to 51% of the votes with what will most likely be a margin of over 6 million votes. It is, objectively speaking, the largest electoral rebuke of a sitting president since FDR unseated Hoover in 1932.

It seems that the people have clearly spoken. Even so, with a sitting administration that seems more hellbent on undermining our democracy than even pretending to address the pandemic that is now fully out of control across the country, it seems like a lot of folks need reassurance that the will of the people will be carried out. To that end, I felt that this post from a few years back, written at the time of the damaging government shutdown of early 2018, still applies.

Plus, I was needing to see some Rockwell Kent paintings this morning. That always does me some good.

Believe in reason and have a good day.



 

Rockwell Kent- The Trapper

 



Force against reason: reason, because it has the power of enlisting forces to fight for it, will win. From the recognition of that truth has come democracy.

-Rockwell Kent



There are a lot of things that could be said this morning, especially with a governmental shutdown taking effect overnight. This shutdown is the symbolic culmination of the political attitudes of the past twenty years that have led us away from compromise and reason as a means of governance. I am not going to go into my own grievances here.

I’ve done that enough.

But I will say that for all the anxiety this government produces as it tries to force itself closer and closer to some form of autocratic authoritarianism, I am somewhat optimistic. And that may be because I agree with the premise of the quote above from one of my favorite artists, Rockwell Kent.

I do feel that we are in struggle right now between force and reason, that the direction in which we are being directed via deception and fear-mongering– the force here–goes against the ideals and virtues that we have long professed as the basis for our democracy– reason.  The idea that reason is enduring because it has the ability to enlist those who will fight for the truth of it is reassuring to me and seems to be backed by history.

What we are experiencing is reminiscent of the way other empires have ended, when the beliefs that grew these empires are set aside by rulers who see themselves as being above those ideals and virtues. But I believe we are still a nation with enough reasonable people to resist the forces of greed and nativism that have descended upon us.

And that gives me hope, even on these days that seem so dark.

So, thanks for reminding me of that, Mr. Kent. Here’s a video of some of Kent’s landscape work, primarily of some of my favorite landscapes from the Adirondacks, Vermont and Greenland. The format of the video is a little cutesy for my taste but it shows a lot of great work from Kent and features the music of Edgar Meyer and Joshua Bell. Can’t go wrong with that combo.

Have a good day and stay reasonable.



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“Human beings, whatever their backgrounds, are more open than we think, that their behavior cannot be confidently predicted from their past, that we are all creatures vulnerable to new thoughts, new attitudes.

And while such vulnerability creates all sorts of possibilities, both good and bad, its very existence is exciting. It means that no human being should be written off, no change in thinking deemed impossible.”

― Howard Zinn, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times


“It is a happy faculty of the mind to slough that which conscience refuses to assimilate.”

― William Faulkner, Light in August


Yesterday was an interesting day. A good day.

A good and decent man and a strong and smart woman of mixed race and immigrant parents were declared the victors in our presidential election. Throughout the country and around the world spontaneous celebrations took place with throngs of people ( almost all masked, by the way) taking to the streets. A total release of emotion. Dancing. Singing. Banging drums and honking car horns. 

A cacophony of  joy. 

In Paris and other cities around the world the church bells tolled. 

I would like to think that witnessing this explosion of celebration might cause those who have steadily supported the divisive rhetoric and vindictiveness of the current president*** watched this and wondered how his loss could have possibly triggered such elation and joy. I would like to think that it made them feel cracks taking place in the shield of the cognitive dissonance they have maintained for the past four years, being fed as they have been a steady diet of pure falsehoods and subsisting on beliefs and .conspiracies that do not align with any sort of reality.

Living in their self-contained bubbles doesn’t allow them to even consider the possibility that their reality is not everybody’s reality.

I have to admit this applies to both sides to some extent. But the blind allegiance to the lies, vitriol and cruelty of this president*** is beyond anything seen on the other side. It is complete acceptance of every lie as truth even when their own eyes tell them it is not so. Their support for him even when confronted with facts is an amazing bit of pretzel logic that rationalizes his every action. In the four years since his election I have yet to hear anyone speak of their support for him in anything but broad generalizations and mischaracterizations of events.

They want to believe so hard that their kind rejects the reality that is before them.

I think yesterday went a long way toward bursting that bubble for some of those folks. Not all, of course. There were counter-demonstrations, though much smaller and less ebullient. And largely unmasked. Even when it comes to their health and a raging deadly pandemic, many still refuse to accept the reality that is so apparent to all others.

But for many, it had to be illuminating to see how country and the world reacted. It wasn’t a reaction to a political victory. People celebrated when Obama was elected but even that was dwarfed by yesterday’s outpouring.

This was a reaction similar to the winning of a world war or the toppling of a tyrant. It looked like something from a movie where the citizens of Earth have turned away an alien invasion.

To witness that from the other side had to be a mix of bitterness and bewilderment, probably wondering how so many people could be so wrong. And probably even more so, if they watched President-elect Biden’s speech last night, heard him speak in positive terms about unity and moving ahead together. Where was the anger? There was no promise of American carnage, no threat of retribution or revenge. Not raging with grievances. No us and them.

It was an extended hand and a promise to speak to and for all Americans. It was sane and calm and delivered in terms of unity and future built on hope, not fear. 

It most likely didn’t resemble in any way the strawman that they come to fear and hate. The future he spoke of includes them, doesn’t push them to the side or minimize their concerns. 

Like I said, yesterday was probably a day of illumination for some. The future doesn’t have to be dark, doesn’t have to be built on demonizing or blaming others. It can be okay, maybe even better than okay.

All they have to do is allow the possibility that there is sometimes another way of thinking about things.

Hopefully, yesterday cracked some bubbles and some new light was shed on their minds. Like Howard Zinn, whose words are at the top of the page, I believe in the potential for people to change their way of thinking.

Okay, enough. I am writing this off the top of my head so I apologize if this is not as concise or focused as I would like.

For this Sunday morning music let’s go with a song, Anthem, from Leonard Cohen whose message is most fitting today for this post: 

Ring the bells (ring the bells) that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything)
That’s how the light gets in

Have a good day. There will be tough days ahead, but let’s hope there are many more good ones to come.


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“From a Distance”– Currently at the West End Gallery

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The essence of optimism is that it takes no account of the present, but it is a source of inspiration, of vitality and hope where others have resigned; it enables a man to hold his head high, to claim the future for himself and not to abandon it to his enemy.

–Dietrich Bonhoeffer

***********************

Yesterday, for the first time in many moons, I felt a sensation that seemed distinctly out of place for the feelings that have been swirling around inside me lately. It was a twinge, a pang, a fleeting pulse of optimism.

I think it was the announcement of Kamala Harris as Joe Biden‘s running mate that did it. I had been expecting– and hoping– that she would be the pick. The daughter of immigrants, she’s smart, tough, and forward looking but also warm and engaging. What’s not to like?

But even expecting it, I was surprised at my own reaction to the announcement. It made me happy in a way that I haven’t felt in some time.

Optimistic.

It took a while to recognize this long lost feeling, this optimism. It’s been gone so it seems almost foreign and I have found myself more apt to use words like pessimism and cynicism to describe my feelings about the future.

But the truth be told, I kind of like it.

I like the idea that there are responsible adults stepping up to face the multitude of problems facing us at this time. As daunting as the situation, this little bit of newfound optimism makes me think we can find solutions going into the future.

It’s like the torch on the Statue of Liberty has been dark for the past four years– it sure feels that way and there’s talk that it might be set ablaze again. Eyes look up again.

Like I said, I like this feeling but it still makes me a bit nervous. I fear that others who feel the same thing will think that this optimism somehow replaces the need for hard work and attention to detail in the coming months.

Pay attention. Dot your i’s and cross your t’s, people. Make sure you’re registered and vote even if it means standing in line for hour upon hour.

This is the most critical election of our lives. That is not hyperbole.

We are still down in a dark pit but at least our eyes are looking up a bit now. And there is light up there.

Like the great Curtis Mayfield song they used after introducing Biden and Kamala’s partnership, let’s Move On Up.

Have a good day and keep your eyes up.

PS: The quote at the top is from Dietrich Bonhoefer, who wrote an essay that I used in a blog post, On Stupidity, which is easily my most visited post.

 

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