|About a week ago on New Year’s eve, Mollie in her nightgown and I in my robe had just settled down to celebrate with a glass of wine about ten. We wished Canada a happy New Year and promptly settled down to our final nap of 2010. Dancing in my head were thoughts about what a mess the world was in. War, nuclear weapons, instability, political rancor, unemployment, the price of gasoline – you know, the stuff of our times.
Not surprisingly, I had a dream. It began with the mournful tones of a song. I couldn’t distinguish the singers. It might have been Willie Nelson, but it could also have been Harry Reid with Nancy Pelosi singing backup. It went something like this:
The music faded in my noggin but it was replaced almost at once by a specter, a spirit cloaked and faceless who said he was going to show me a vision, a vision of things to come in the new year. In that foggy realm of r.e.m. I heard myself say, wait, specter! What about the past? What about the present?
The specter quoth enigmatically, “Never mind! In Dickens’ time, those things mattered because the world moved at a slower pace. The past is prologue and the present? It is but a fleeting moment in which all people live. It is a moving target and has become superficial, a mere tweet in the vastness of time.”
A tweet, I said? “Yes, the specter replied. We have to keep up with the times.”
I drifted off but, as I inevitably do I awoke and listened to Coast to Coast on the
radio for about 20 minutes, learning to my amazement that it was really the CIA that plotted the Kennedy assassination. Then, I drifted off again.
Then, then, what is that shape? Oh spirit, are you the one, the one who is going to show me the things that will be? “No, you moron, the spirit said. The future is not
predetermined. It will be what you will make of it, no more and no less. There are countless possible worlds ahead of you, all within the physical rules of the particular universe you are in of course. But what I can show you is what is possible. For that I now summon the spirit Gergen.”
A bushel basket appeared and, tipping from the motion of an unseen hand there was revealed a lighted candle. From it came a voice, speaking with quiet resolve.
Awakening from my reverie I realize that I had seen the future, but it was only a tantalizing glimpse of what might be. Do terrible things happen for a purpose? Is our world guided in a mysterious way by an unseen finger, or is it up to us? But I was left with this conviction: we need not be doomed, and the way of salvation is the way of moderation. I ventured forth, full of newborn hope.
– – – Dedicated to Gabby Giffords, a Democrat newly-elected from a Republican district of Arizona who favored sensible immigration reform and opposed its harsh new law. May she live to inspire us to emulate her moderation and love for her country.
BS, USNA, Annapolis, 1959; MSA, The Geo. Washington U., 1975; Submariner, Commander, USN, 1959 - 1981; Aerospace battery engineer & mgr., 1981 - 1999; Political affiliation: Staunchly Democratic, converted after the GOP receded from its Eisenhower roots.
"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."
"The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind."
-- William Blake, A MemorableFancy
I love to doubt as well as know."
To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour.
-- William Blake, Auguries of Innocence
"We are here on earth to do good for others. What the others are here for, I don't know."
-- W. H. Auden
"Without contraries is no progression. Attraction and repulsion, reason and energy, love and hate, are necessary to human existence."
-- Wiliam Blake, The Argument
"Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed."
-- Herman Melville, US novelist & sailor (1819 - 1891)
"It’s better to believe in what you know than to know what you believe in."
-- HL Gaskins
“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?” – Epicurus circa 300 BCE
Still Skeptical After All These Years by James R Wheeler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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