OUR MOMENT – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Moment

This is a moment. Well, really, the last year and a half (is it longer? shorter? interminable?) has been a “moment.”

For me, it has been a long and painful moment of realization. This catastrophe in which we have been engulfed didn’t just “sort of show up” in 2016. It isn’t something that dropped in from the outer limits. As Americans, we’ve been building towards this monumental, momentous calamity for our entire history.

We have done great things. We have also done horrendous and unspeakable things. We have — as all countries do — glossed over the unspeakable and put a lot of our energy focusing on the greatness. We have ignored our failures and failed to grow up, nationally speaking.

One of the many important things Obama said in his recent lecture was that we had made progress and so we assumed that this progress meant that we had left “the bad stuff” behind and moved on.

But that isn’t what happened at all. Briefly, our better selves dominated politically, but all the rest of it was still right where it had been before. Our Civil War is more than 150 year in our past, yet for many people, it is still going on. Despite the obvious that this entire country — unless you are a Native American — is built on immigration, we have forgotten who we are and where we come from and that it is the energy and willingness to “go the distance” that gave the United States its vitality.

We also forgot that we got our big bang of industrial power from the decimation of Europe following two devastating wars. Yes, we fought in them, but they took place elsewhere. Not on our shores and if we want to pause briefly and ponder Pearl Harbor and 9/11, we can only imagine how different this country would be if the wars fought had been fought here.

Not “over there.” Not on some foreign shore, but in our backyard. We never had to rebuild our entire infrastructure. We have been political fools. Not only now, but in many earlier times when we elected immoral, mentally challenged morons as our leaders.

It matters more now because we gained so much power. And because the speed of events has increased and we don’t wait for news anymore. Everything is instant, continuous, and migraine-inducing.

We didn’t get here by accident or because of one bad election. We have never demanded our citizens vote or even get a decent education. We have never required our citizenry behave like grownups, either. Why should we be surprised we find ourselves in this unreal, treasonous, and terrifying scenario?

Map of Nazi conquest of Europe as of 1940

This is our moment to consider who and what we want to be as a nation. Do we want to be the perpetual international fools and morons? Do we want to pretend that all the really important things — decency, morality, safety, protection, equality, liberty and fair government — are trivial? That the only thing that matters is greed? As long as someone promises to lower our taxes, nothing else counts?

If we continue thinking like that, we will be lost in history, a mere blip on the timeline. And because we have had so much power, we might take down other nations with us. Who knows how many?

We are not an island, nor do we exist alone and separate on this planet.

No Man is an Island – John Donne

No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

Devotions upon Emergent Occasions
John Donne

Categories: #FOWC, #Photography, Daily Prompt, Government, History, Poetry, Politics, War and battles

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14 replies

  1. I don’t think decency and generosity are automatically part of the original package. Watch any pair of 2 year olds arguing over “mine mine mine’. We have some vestigal sense of right and wrong, but we learn our particular society’s ideas of decency, morality, kindess, by watching other people, by imitating our parents, or by trial and error. And if you can amass enough money and power, it sometimes goes right out the jusitifcation window.


    • So it would seem. I come from a very generous family. You really had to be careful about admiring anything because you’d wind up going home with it. My aunt once actually — literally — gave me the coat off her back in the middle of Manhattan in the winter. I was so embarrassed. I made her at least wear it home, but I did end up owning the coat. Or as Garry likes to say: “Generosity. That was my first mistake.”


  2. We never seem to learn that working together for the good of all is what life here and around the globe should be about!


    • No, we never learn it. Not for good and all. We have good times and then we revert. Ignorance? Stupidity? Greed? I don’t know why we don’t learn. I would have thought that decency was part of our DNA, that we didn’t need to relearn it each generation.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. one thing above all others, to me. All of this crap going down, allegations, secret briefings, back door politics and a revolving door of aides, cabinet members and lord alone who all else, and not a damn thing is being done about that flaming sack of you know what sitting in the oval office.
    When Bill Clinton got ‘caught” with Monica, the world reeled. Shock and horror. That poor innocent ewe lamb. Impeach that man. Shoot him now.

    Now we have a president who has had several wives, relatives all over the place, a mistress or two, and it reads like a bad novel, and no one is doing a thing about it.

    Maybe that’s the idea. Throw enough junk out there, keep the newpapers busy, make it as awful and endless as you can, and it’s so confusing we all just put our heads in our hands and moan.


  4. A genuinely nice person today wrote on a list that I am on that she returned a book to a library because she disagreed with it, and that ‘as a Christian’ she believes the world was created 6000 years ago and not millions, whereas my Jewish husband, a Torah scholar, believes that to be unlikely based on all the artifacts etc. that clearly exist in this world from before then, and yet he can read the bible in the original as well as the commentaries that have come up since it was written so has a very good understanding of the book and the context in which it was written etc. Who really knows the whole story of anything, but I remember when science and history were more widely understood to have some sensible factual answers–not the whole story but a good contribution to the big picture of understanding. One used to have a more well-rounded idea of science says this, my spiritual or religious life says this, experience showed me that, history revealed this and that other thing, and people would just sort of work better with the big picture somehow. Best wishes to all–


    • I have never understood why science and faith cannot exist together because they often do exist together. Faith is faith. You can have faith without believe the world is 6,000 years old. The old super orthodox rabbis in Israel didn’t believe that. Judaism is more than 5,000 years old.

      Do we absolutely positively know the facts of everything in our world?

      Of course not and I’m sure we never will. But that doesn’t mean we can’t believe in science or facts or evidence. Or proof.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I dunno. We all believe all kinds of stuff. I just want everyone to get along and be happy and smart-enough for their purposes. Those are the buddhist concepts actually.


        • I’ve always felt that we have a brain big enough for more than one kind of knowledge. Buddhist and Christian. Science and faith. It’s like loving more than one person: you don’t stop loving your husband or mother or father because you love your child. We are bigger than that.


  5. You’re right. This “moment” didn’t start in 2016, but the election of Trump pulled the lid off of Pandora’s box and unleashed all of the evil that had been percolating beneath the surface.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There was a lot of stuff that got us here. I think most people don’t realize it, either. They haven’t read enough history to have a grasp of what went before. I am sad at how ignorant more Americans are because ignorance is anything BUT bliss.

      Liked by 2 people

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