Vicissitudes


Oh, Goody!


Due to circumstances beyond our control, we are now headed for yet another national political scandal which threatens - yet again - to tear the national bonds asunder!


It certainly does feel familiar. I was a new mother when Watergate happened, and despite considerable obstacles to obtaining news via airwaves in our remote Black Hills location, we managed to collect dozens of newspaper articles to decorate bulletin boards placed strategically throughout the house. I remember it as an exhilarating experience, but from this “high hill of my life” (as the great spiritual leader Black Elk characterized his mature years) I’m not nearly as excited about going through the whole process again.


That’s natural, I suppose. You get to a point in your life when you’re just plain tired, and ready to turn over the future and its attendant activism to a younger generation. I’ve often wondered how this would feel. It’s not that I’m no longer concerned. I’m just tired. And therefore ready to turn over the responsibilities of maintaining a safe and governmentally secure future to our offspring.


But hold the phone: just when I’m seriously considering throwing in the towel (for the first time in my life) I’m reminded of a major player in the United States government during the most stressful period of history this country has so far endured: the Civil War. I’m reading a biography of Thaddeus Stevens, whom I became obsessed with in Steven Spielberg’s 2012 film, Lincoln. As portrayed by Academy Award winner, Tommy Lee Jones, Stevens was an irascible old coot whose age disqualified him from military service, but who nevertheless rose to the occasion and showed amazing mental agility in helping shepherd the Union to a successful conclusion despite incalculable daily challenges in the halls of Congress.


The author, Bruce Levine, described Stevens’ accomplishment in the words of a contemporary congressman, Horace Maynard, “this is the period of conservatism, and usually comes with gray hairs and failing eye-site. It converses with the past and distrusts the future. Its look is backward and not forward.”


Wait a minute: is that me?


He went on to describe Stevens’ own rejection of such a fate, simply stating that the remarkable Representative from Pennsylvania just never reached that point! (In fact, Stevens figuratively died with his boots on.)


Maybe I could hang on just a little bit longer. Speaker Pelosi is older than I am and she was off hob-nobbing with the Pope this week. (He’s older than I am, too). The President is older than I am, and as I write this he is overseas meeting with our NATO partners, trying to make the world safe for democracy.


Maybe there’s something to be said for that high hill after all.




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