Waiting & Acting & Loving
Like associate professor of philosophy and art at SUNY/Stony Brook Megan Craig, some of us are waiting.
“The seasons change with merciful indifference while, held in suspense, we watch the infection numbers rise. We are waiting. Waiting for the New Year, for a birthday, for Covid-19 tests, for dentist appointments, for a date to walk outside with friends, for justice, for the vaccine, for dinner, for my brother to get well, for the dog to learn a new trick, for grandparents to be able to visit, for a fresh loaf of bread, for the Zoom meeting to end, for the next one to begin, for lunch, for any other soundtrack, for joy, for a first pair of glasses, for the dryer to stop squeaking, for change, for the future, for news, for tenderness, for each other, for patience to wait some more.”
At the self-same time, some of us are acting.
Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) co-sponsored legislation which was wrapped into the newly Congressionally-approved stimulus deal to offer a $15 billion relief package for arts venues. She said, “It was the grass-roots efforts of musicians and theaters and fans all across the country. And it was the fact that the coalition stuck together. They didn’t infight.”
Yes, I suppose that is what they didn’t do, but what we don’t do and what doesn’t happen are a much harder sell than what we actually do. So what happened? Musicians — who love music, theatres — which love to house plays and musicals and concerts and dance recitals, and fans — who love both. What happened is, they acted upon what they love. I ask you, what’s to fight about?
I always read the Letters to the Editor in The New York Times. Here’s a scrumptious one from Dennis Aftergut in San Francisco.
“What Really Saved the Republic From Trump?” by Tim Wu (Op-Ed, nytimes.com, Dec. 10), has it exactly right. Federal criminal prosecutors, military officers and state elections officials standing up for democratic norms formed a red, white, and blue line separating democracy’s safety from its demise.
“But it was not just people in government. It also was citizens, joining together to speak and act, rallying behind the people in government who spoke truth to power. What saves the Republic — now and going forward — is a shared commitment to the democracy we love.”
Ohhh, some of us even love democracy enough to join together, to speak, and to act. Of course we do.
American Enterprise Institute fellow Matthew Continetti writes a bracing reminder in his piece this morning. Consider this: “[F]or Mr. Trump, everything is a transaction.” For those who love, truly, really, madly, deeply love, Beloved, nothing is a transaction. We may have lost sight of this for quite a long while, but it’s back in our sights now.
Sean Connery died this year. He was quoted in this morning’s Times, “If you start thinking of your image, or what the mysterious ‘they’ out there are thinking of you, you’re in a trap.” Isn’t this what transaction is about? Isn’t this what’s warping our politicians? Isn’t this how media colludes with policy-makers to harm our country? It is. We cannot healthily focus on what others think.
Sir Sean continues, “What’s important is that you’re doing the work that’s best for you.” Doing the work that’s best for you, Beloved, is ever and always and forever will be doing what you love. For real and for true.
Speaking of transactions, there’s a cheating scandal at West Point. More than 70 students who took a calculus exam remotely all made identical mistakes. West Point takes these transactional breaches quite seriously. Not surprisingly, there’s an honor code at West Point.
“The academy’s website says the purpose of the honor code — ‘A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do’ — is ‘to foster a commitment to moral-ethical excellence and an insight into the more comprehensive military professional ethic.’” They ought to have an honor code; these are the young men and women who will lead our military forces.
What made these students think it was a good idea to cheat on a calculus exam? Or that they wouldn’t be caught? I can tell you, but it’s not pretty. As a culture, we’ve taken extravagant steps to protect ourselves and our young people from the consequences of their behavior. Here’s a further convolution: and now there are consequences of no consequences.
The subtext seems to me to be why should it matter if we don’t learn the material for just one exam? How could that possibly affect our future?
Actually, Beloved, the consequences of everything matter. I might submit to you that all of life is a round robin of consequences based on our choices and behaviors which lead to more consequences when we react to the first set, ad infinitum.
Milton Glaser also died this year. He’s the designer who created I[HEART]NY. He said, “I am totally a believer in the idea that style is a limitation of perception and understanding. And what I’ve tried in my life is to avoid style and find an essential reason for making things.”
An essential reason for making things. Hmm, an essential reason for doing things seems like a good idea, too.
Barney Harris from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, writes in the Letters to the Editor, “Evil, to reference Edmund Burke, has been denied its triumph; men and women have not done nothing.”
Men and women and everyone on the spectrum of that binary have come together to do what Mr. Glaser suggests we all need to do. They came together over what they love.
Megan Nolan is a columnist for New Statesman, where she writes about culture and politics, “The coronavirus pandemic has brought out a nasty puritanism in some people, who luxuriate in the ability to police the way others live. One doesn’t even need to actually break a rule to earn their disgust, only to express dismay over things they consider unimportant or, worse, hedonistic.”
I think she’s right. This business of minding other people’s business, Beloved, keeps us estranged and transactional instead of connected and cooperative — both externally, namely with others, but also internally, namely within ourselves.
Finding what we love is an inside job, Beloved. Once we know what that is, only then can we make choices to act with others who love with us.
Ms. Nolan again, “There are not a finite number of ways to have felt pain this year.” Rephrased, there are an infinite number of ways to have felt pain this year, and there are even more than infinite ways to have felt love, to feel love, and to keep loving till we can say with Helen Reddy who also died this year, “I would like to thank God because she makes everything possible.”
Dr. Susan Corso is a spiritual teacher, the founder of iAmpersand, and the author of The Mex Mysteries, the Boots & Boas Books, and spiritual nonfiction. Her essays address the intersection of spirituality and culture. Her website is susancorso.com.