This summer, like any other, is a mash-up of good things and bad. Some stretch around the world; others at least nationally. Others are very close to home. Today, I’m jumping in to talk about some of them.
I am continually horrified by the war in Ukraine. I’m reading The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn, a well-researched historical novel set in the early years of the second world war. It is told from the perspective of a young Russian soldier, a female sharp-shooter, as the Nazis – violently, horrendously, and without provocation – push through their country. Now, in real time, the Russians are the invaders. Their actions are the ones that are unbelievably heartless, cruel, and that they have to lie to try to justify. How can we humans be so awful? How is it that we can’t seem to learn from our own suffering, that inflicting suffering on others is not the answer? This is only one conflict in a world that is full of them.
In this country, there is continuing gun violence. We have no time to recover from one devastating incident, before we are faced with another. The politicians rant on about the loss of our second amendment rights while the funerals are still going on. And our judicial system has just made it easier for folks to carry concealed weapons.
The dust from that news had not even settled before the Supreme Court went on to reverse Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that ensured a woman’s right to choose to terminate a pregnancy. That feels like a “punch to the gut” to all, including myself, who have worked hard in the fight for the women’s rights and equality. I know this is a highly controversial topic; conflict-avoider that I am, I hesitate to even bring it up. But I think the time for measured silence is long past.
I can’t speak as knowledgably as many. I don’t have a medical background. Psychological, medical, economic and ethical reasons for needing to terminate a pregnancy are wide-ranging. I can’t quote scripture, but I know that scripture can be, and has been, used to energize and support whichever point of view you want. I can’t even accurately talk about the historical precedents, when laws have been invented, passed, repealed and changed to suit the whims and needs of men, and to keep women “in their place.” But all of this information is out there. I am not pro-abortion; I don’t think anyone is. But I stand firmly with science, and a woman’s right to make that difficult choice.
My friend, Paul, has always read everything I write and has frequently offered me his opinion. Over the years, I’ve learned that we share a love of learning and quite a few political opinions. We have often commiserated over current events and the condition of the world. I know that he appreciates some abstract art – though not mine – and that his preference lies in realistic paintings of beautiful scenery.
Last week, I started my blog with a Mary Oliver poem. Paul stopped in at the Community Center to tell me that he was glad I had found time to write, and that he prefers poetry that rhymes. I didn’t argue. At more than 90 years old, I think Paul is welcome to his opinion, whatever it is. We spoke for a bit about the state of the nation, this busy season, and the wonderful cadence of E.B. White’s poetry. Unlike today, that was as controversial as I was willing to be. On Saturday, Paul suffered a massive heart attack and died. I’m glad for the time I spent listening. For Paul, a rhyming poem:
(A cheerful lament in which truth, pain, and beauty are prominently mentioned, and in that order)
by E.B. White
In the days of my youth, in the days of my youth, I lay in West Twelfth Street, writhing with Truth, I died in Jones Street, dallying with pain, And flashed up Sixth Avenue, risen again. In the terrible, beautiful age of my prime, I lacked for sweet linen, but never for time. The tree in the alley was potted in gold, The girls on the buses would never grow old. Last night with my love I returned to these haunts To visit Pain's diggings and try for Truth's glance; I was eager and ardent and waited as always The answering click to my ring in the hallways, But Truth hardly knew me, and Pain wasn't in (It scarcely seemed possible Pain wasn't in). Beauty recalled me. We bowed in the Square, In the wonderful westerly Waverly air. She had a new do, I observed, to her hair. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^