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Hawthorn Hill

November 14, 2013

Reflecting on current events while far away


Having spent some hours the last several days reading up on local and national events, and preparing myself to cast thoughtful votes in tomorrow’s election, especially with respect to the amendments that will be on the ballot, one thing is certain. It makes no difference how long one is away. 

Pick up any newspaper or check out any Internet news site and the status is pretty much quo. The names might change, as do the places, but the stuff of the news is pretty much the same. Thoreau pointed that out many years ago. 

I have a friend in Maine who stopped reading newspapers many years ago. He lives a news-less life, which is something I cannot do. There are times when I wish I could, but such a behavior is anathema to my sense of the obligations of responsible citizenship. 

Getting away from it all for a short while enables one to catch one’s breath for a brief spate of time. It fosters, as Wordsworth might say, reflection in tranquility. Reflection seems to have lost its value. Which is a shame. A character in a novel I read while away suggests that talking is one thing. And noise making is quite another. We have created a contemporary culture that seems to value noise far more than it values thought and rational discourse.

I doubt if we will ever create a perfect world in which we will all get along wonderfully well and love the blazes out of one another. Be nice. But it will not happen. The best of families are often riddled with tensions that cause incalculable distress. So, we are stuck with a world that will always have the burden of resolving differences as amicably as possible. 

Ironically, difference is a good thing. We often seem to forget that, especially when riding individual or collective hobbyhorses. If each and every one of us can take off our cultural blinders just long enough to talk to one another, really talk, then there might be hope after all. Right now noise seems to have won the day.

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Hawthorn Hill
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