My head is jangling from the events of last week. Who could believe so many monumental developments could be crammed into one week: Trump’s phone call trying to change election results in Georgia, the election itself, the determination by so many Republican members of Congress to dispute the election results, Trump’s rally at the White House inciting insurrection, the storming of the Capital, the calls for invoking the 25th Amendment or impeachment. One week.
And this week the news just keeps coming, dwarfing the terrible pandemic numbers: deaths from the melee, resignations, revelations, repudiations, investigations. I have never felt so strongly the sense of being a bit player on a grand stage with the history shifting all around me. Sen. Tim Kaine( D-VA) summed it up well: “The set of outrages of the last few years — culminating in a 2020 marked by mismanaging a pandemic thus occasioning unnecessary death and then the violence and racism at the Capitol — is a completely logical ending to a very sad chapter in American life.” I will be very relieved when January 20 finally arrives.
What is it about this era that feeds such massive movements of change? We had MeToo!, then Black Lives Matter, and now this — I’m not sure how to characterize it — a movement for democracy, against…? It is more than a movement against Trump. It is a movement against fascism, against a government of lies and all the perpetrators of lies. Now corporations, educational institutions, advertisers, media platforms, many Republicans, Democrats, and ordinary citizens are all rushing to declare themselves on the right side.
Are people simply reading the writing on the wall, that we have a new administration coming in, or is it pent up disgust that it is finally safe to express? Are these movements related to the pandemic, stress upon stress that has been building underground and finally explodes? Whatever it is, it is massive and the country won’t be the same after, or if, it all settles down.
The pandemic has never been worse, but it has taken a back seat. Thinking about it is the opposite of thinking about politics. It directs me inward, away from the big to the small. As I take my daily ramble around a nearby track, I notice a pond of still water on the other side of the road. Two lone ducks glide through the reflection of drying stalks of bullrushes. Further on, a larger pond is surrounded by a flock of geese, all sitting facing the sun. A cold, damp wind is blowing and I tighten my scarf. I am reminded that this is life. Life isn’t something coming or something past. It isn’t the constant agitation of history and big events. It isn’t some momentous culmination– a wedding, a revelation, a trip of a lifetime. This is it, the quiet, ordinary here. This is where the infinite is.