Friday, June 24, 2016

Which time shall ne'er destroy, nor bounds confine.

Trying to be optimistic on Brexit but it's hard. The fallout from this should send shivers down the spine of anyone contemplating the day after a Trump presidential win. The shock from two of the world's most influential forces voting to flee back to isolationism clearly pays no benefits, and as Brits are discovering this morning, some of the promises the Leave campaign made were false (more money for health care). So hopefully here at least we wake up a bit. A lot of people said Trump would never be the nominee. A lot of people said the UK would never vote itself out. Well.
One possible benefit is the prospect of a united Irleand as the North has voted resolutely to stay in the EU. Scotland and Northern Ireland have made rumblings about leaving the UK in the take of this, which I think have to be taken seriously. David Cameron didn't take the first Scottish referendum seriously and nearly pissed away the empire then; apparently he learned nothing from it. On the down side, in the near term, Ireland has to decide if it's going to reinstate border checks with the North. The EU zone removed what was once one of the more bitter divides in Europe. It's disheartening to think checkpoints would return in Ireland. It's likely unfortunately, but perhaps in the long term the North will find its way back to Ireland proper. That's been pie in the sky since the partition, but nothing can be ruled out in a world where the forces of extreme nationalism have torn the UK to shreds and threaten to do the same here.
As it happens I've met quite a few Brits in the last few days and to a person they're all Remain, and expressed doubt this would come to pass. It's the same kind of doubt I've heard about Trump and his brand of politics since he blundered his way on stage. We need a strong EU as an ally, especially with the resurgence of a nationalistic Russia, and of course, ISIS. There are a lot of valid reasons to question the direction of the EU. There are a lot of valid reasons to question policies here at home which have adversely affected people at the expense of global trade. There are no valid reasons to reject togetherness and cooperation. There are no valid reasons to close borders and build walls. Identity matters. Clearly. This morning the British are asking themselves who they are. Are they still Brits? In a couple years, likely no. 
What it means to be an American has meant many things over the years, but one thing it has always meant is liberty for all. Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. I hope we remember that as we vote in November, and as we move forward in a world which seems to crumble around us.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

“All extremes of feeling are allied with madness.”

What do you say?
Everything you can say about the routine mass murder of innocent people seems rote. Empty. You lose the will to even say it when you realize how little comfort it gives and how little weight it carries in a country where this is normal. The outpouring of grief and support for Orlando is remarkable, but it was with San Bernadino. It was with Sandy Hook. It was with Columbine. It was with the dozens of other mass shootings that have occurred in this country. I was 6 or 7 when 'going postal' was how we described this. One post office shooting after another. I was watching the local news one night at home and they played a 911 recording of a woman, a post office worker, barricaded in some room as a shooter stalked through the building murdering her co-workers. I don't remember all of the tape, which seemed to go on forever, but I remember the last thing she said. 'I think I'm going to die.' And she did. Liz Mathis told me so, and then she moved on to the next story. We've been moving on to the next story my entire life.
When will it end? 
When will our outrage and grief be enough? How many dead will be enough? How many dead children? Certainly not the 20 that were butchered in Sandy Hook 3 and 1/2 years ago. Will we be outraged finally when we realize our own leaders voted to ensure that people we won't allow on an airplane can buy still buy weapons of mass destruction? Apparently not. When we realize that America is the world's leader in... deaths from gun violence? No. When we realize it's not really about personal security or 2nd amendment rights but that the feckless, shameless exploitation of the preventable deaths of innocent men, women and children isn't about your 2nd Amendment right, but a major corporation's bottom line? No. This is a country where we value stock over children. Where we value guns and bullets over children. Where we value the assumption it will never happen to us over children.
Isn't it?
We sigh and we shrug and we say never again and we go on checking for updates on Facebook and then it happens again. We should be embarrassed and ashamed and terrified and we're not. We should care more about our children and our future than the irrational need to own weapons of mass destruction, but it seems we don't. I want to be wrong. I should be wrong.
Am I wrong?