Thursday, October 5, 2017
"Thoughts and prayers ain't enough"
Cynicism comes so easily nowadays. The country is divided by hatred and mutual incomprehension, our divisions longstanding and entrenched, our leaders paid off or impotent. Lies spewing from corrupted news sources, with no agreement which is fair, which foul. Our president is a superannuated infant, reflecting the worst among us, astounding even the most jaded every single day with his bottomless baseness and continual bad faith.
What hope for progress is there? Haven't we been steadily deteriorating for years, decades?
Umm no, not really. Fifty-eight Americans were killed Sunday by mindless violence. When I was growing up, that was a good week's casualty list in the Vietnam War. The last administration did actually catch the will-o-the-wisp of health care, not in an ideal form, but one much improved, available to millions of people, heretofore cut-off. The unexamined hate that used to be just accepted, the stage convention of our public life, the curtains and the scenery, now seems glaring wrong, in many quarters, and is challenged. We can't avoid the horrors, they fill our vision. But the good is there too, if we look for it.
Or bumble upon it. I was walking the dog Tuesday morning and there was Lee Goodman, who lives a few blocks down my street. Writing on his garbage can. Which is something he does, getting the word out. Lee quit his practice as a lawyer a couple years back to devote his energy, full time, along with his wife Nancy, to repealing the 2nd Amendment.
A quixotic quest, in an era when even discussion of the possibility of discussion is shouted down by paid lackeys in government and their duped constituents. But he's doing it. He wrote a book, outlining his ideas. Tuesday he emblazoned his garbage can with a sign: "Thoughts and prayers ain't enough," a rebuke to the hypocritical pro forma pieties that our leaders mouth in lieu of actually doing or saying anything.
In one light, a futile act. How many people go down Center Avenue and see a garbage can? In another, a testament of faith in the ultimate victory of rationality, of goodness. The internet has raised communication to a howl, where reaching a million pairs of eyes is nothing. Only a start. Still, there are those quiet voices speaking to anyone who will listen. Even an empty street.
We talked a bit. The new Dick's Sporting Goods on Skokie Blvd., he said, is carrying long guns. He led a protest there the night before, and was pleased with the turn-out. Hunting rifles and shotguns are not the problem, in my view, and opposing them only gives credence to the right wing canard that the left wants to ban all guns everywhere. Lee goes over the line, sometime, in my view, such as when he protested the installation of an old Army howitzer by Village Hall.
But Lee's committed anti-gun, no half measures thank you very much, and I understand the purity of his stand. If all the people pushing for silencers and armor-piercing bullets can cash their checks and mail out their hyperventilating fundraising appeals, then Lee can organize his quiet protests and deliver his trash day messages. If there were more people like him, then maybe our country wouldn't be in the mess it's in.
He isn't bowing his head in resignation at our national disgrace, but is doing whatever he can to combat it, and I have to respect that, and add what little boost I can, barely more than a sign on a garbage can, but it's all I've got.
After I wrote the above, I noticed this tweet, from my friend Rory Fanning, which sums up what I was trying to say better than I could manage: