We are confronting new disasters today with the huge Apple Fire in California, which is experiencing a brutal heat wave, and the storm threatening Florida and much of the East Coast. And I’m sure there’s more that didn’t make it to my News feed. Given how the current administration has handled the pandemic, I don’t have much hope that they will handle other kinds of natural disasters any more capably. It is so critical that we put in place an administration that can coherently respond to the needs of the people of this country.
Giving John Lewis the last word
by Ruth Neuwald Falcon, Seattle, Washington
When Amalya was ten or thereabouts, she appeared in a Broadway Bound Production of Seussical, a musical based on Horton Hears a Who. I used to share driving to rehearsal duties (or, in my case, pleasures) with her parents and, rather than going off and doing errands for the two hours when children, ranging in age from five to ten, were learning blocking and line readings, dance steps and songs, I would stay and watch. It’s quite something to observe a roomful of children turn into musical theater performers.
I’d never read Horton Hears a Who, so didn’t know the story of the elephant that is the only one who can hear the microscopic inhabitants of a planet that looks like a speck of dust. Since no one else can hear them, no one else believes they exist. Horton is mocked and, after many misadventures, put on trial for “talking to a speck, disturbing the peace, and loitering… on an egg.” (You’ll have to read the book.) I remember the moment in the play when one tiny voice rings out loud enough for the assembled jurors to hear. Horton is saved, as are the tiny inhabitants of Whoville.
For the last three-plus years since Trump was inaugurated, I’ve felt like so many of us are like those tiny Whos—running around, waving our arms, shouting as loudly as we can, all to no avail. There is no point in listing the crimes that are occurring daily, perpetrated not only by Trump but Mitch McConnell and so many others. It is stunning that there is any chance at all that they will be reelected, whether by hook or by crook.
I don’t know how to put a tidy ending on these words. It’s a reflection of what’s going on in our world. There is no end in sight. So I will let John Lewis have the final word and take heart in his encouragement and wise counsel when he wrote, just days before his death: I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe.
I share your concern that many are voicing outrage in words and action, and yet, it seems the question remains: what can we DO? Voting seems so far away and I guess I am doubting the wisdom of my fellow citizens who claim COVID 19 is a hoax and that the economy is good in spite of huge job loss and rising death tolls. Can I trust more of us will vote to end this regime than choose it? It’s disheartening that we even have to wonder.
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So very well expressed, Ruth. Thank you so much! I also have never read “Horton Hears a Who” but as you describe the story, that is exactly what I’ve felt like over the past months. Why can’t everyone hear and see what is going on? A dictator is slowly taking control of the United States of America and far too many are seemingly blind, with heads firmly in the sands of denial. I am just finishing the short book, “On Tyranny” byTimothy Snyder. I highly recommend it. It’s available on Amazon for $6.31. It concisely and clearly lays out 20 lessons from history that lead to an authoritarian takeover and Donald Trump is too far down that road.
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Thanks, Ruth. All tributes to John Lewis have been inspiring. Thanks, too, to Roger for mentioning Tim Snyder’s book, “On Tyranny.” It is excellent, if sobering. By way of his analysis, Snyder makes suggestions about what we can (MUST) do to avoid tyranny – among them, “Do not obey in advance. Stand up. Be kind to our language. Investigate. Defend institutions.” His 20 lessons are tangible. There ARE things we can all be doing. I heartily recommend reading (and re-reading) it, talking about it, and giving as many copies away to others as possible.
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