“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” Robert Frost, The Death of the Hired Man
Not if you’re a Rohingya.
Three movements marked my coming of age five decades ago: civil rights, environmental protection and peace. They share a simple theme: respect for the earth, for each other, and for other nations and cultures.
An occasional regular Friday feature.
The aim of these blogs is to present short essays that will give you an idea to consider, if only fleetingly, much like Robert Frost’s belief that a poem could be “a momentary stay against confusion.” So perhaps they’re not equipped to deal with a tragedy of the proportions of Sunday’s massacre in Las Vegas, which to date has killed 59 people and wounded over 520 more. Yet to write about something else seems a kind of a desecration, as does engaging in the same mind-numbing dance in which accusations of “politicizing” the shootings stifle any debate at all.
I didn’t think too much about the news because, like most people, I knew the Olympic bomber was an overweight guy with a mustache. Then I remembered – the fat guy, Richard Jewell, had been the victim of a rush to judgment by both police and the press. The real bomber was Eric Rudolph.
You run into some odd people on the Appalachian Trail (when, that is, you run into anyone at all). My daughter Gayley and I once shared a shelter with two women who were through hiking from Georgia, and we occasionally met someone heading in other direction, but for the most part we had the trail to ourselves.
Two or three decades ago some free local newspapers instituted something called “voluntary pay,” in which they asked their readers to put money in an envelope enclosed in the paper – and assured them they would continue to receive the paper whether they ponied up or not. This was an interesting strategy, one which made no sense to me and whose results were so sufficiently modest that the idea never caught on with the industry.
Rereading A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson’s riotous account of hiking the Appalachian Trail with the delightfully curmudgeonly Katz, made me think of two things.
A new trail begins just west of Little Long Pond on the Mt. Desert Land & Garden Preserve, which consists of 1,165 acres abutting Acadia National Park. The Richard Trail is named for Richard Rockefeller, a doctor who for years chaired the advisory board of Doctors Without Borders and died when the plane he was piloting crashed in fog and heavy rain three years ago.
Seventy-seven years ago yesterday, at four in the afternoon, the first wave of German bombers, 348 in all, flew without warning across the English Channel to bomb London and other cities in England. This was the beginning of the Blitz, which went on nightly for eight months and left 43,000 British civilians dead. Shakespeare’s “sceptred isle . . . this fortress built by Nature for herself” turned out to be little protection “against infection and the hand of war.”
This is a simple story about people who do their jobs well.
I’m judging a statewide newspaper contest, which consists of entries from six local daily papers, all of them multi-issue series of interest and importance to their communities. Contrary to the constant barrage of reports about fake news, sensationalism, and bias, these submissions bespeak a profession that is, well, professional. They are not large, metropolitan newspapers, but small, one-time family-owned operations, who charge their few reporters to dig deep into issues that affect their readers and the communities they serve.
Not really, of course, as it’s still summer on the Gregorian calendar. But the light has changed, as has the angle of the sun, and the color of the sea.
Jeannie Rousseau de Clarens died last week at her home near the Loire River in France. She was 98. During World War II, she served as an interpreter for a French business association during the German occupation – and also as an amateur spy whose charm, flawless German, and incredible courage enabled her to gather and pass along information on the development of the V-1 and V-2 rockets that saved thousands of English lives.
As entire groups of his former supporters abandon him in waves – business leaders who have pushed for both economic and environmental deregulation, military commanders, a growing number of Republicans in Congress – Donald Trump hunkers down and lashes out. He shows no interest in bringing us together, in healing our wounds. He seems a man, a president, wholly without empathy, and without that he is no good to us now, for he cannot, he will not, heal us.
To combat a vision as malevolent as that currently hovering over America, it’s not enough to counter it with a series of bland policy bullet points aimed at attracting disparate groups of people by offering each something that won’t drive the others away – the way the Democrats keep trying to expand their coalition by appealing to just one more identity group.