(Looking across the street last Saturday. (January 2, 2021))
This week’s weather has included, for the most part, dense or patchy freezing fog.
I figure the weather, and Washington news, have been affecting my mood. Or should that be “has been affecting?”
On a more objective note, we’ve had dicey driving and good photo opportunities. But not as good as last Saturday’s, with its sunshine and blue skies.
(From a window near my desk: a nice, if snug, view. (January 8, 2021))
Thanks to the previous owner’s planting preferences, a window near my desk provides a clear view of a tree’s interior.
I’m not sure what they had in mind, but I enjoy the occasional glimpse of birds or a squirrel perching, eating, or debating.
A quick check this Friday told me that freezing fog had frosted the trees’ interiors. This particular clump of trees, anyway.
It’s pretty, in a subdued sort of way.
(Frost on bushes outside the house. (January 8, 2021))
So is the frost that’s accumulated on bushes. We’ve had another day of freezing fog, with little wind to shake it off. That makes three foggy days in a row, so far.
I’d planned on getting a picture of the same twigs this afternoon. But something’s removed an identifiable curvy twig. Maybe the night’s and morning’s frost hid it. Or maybe I just didn’t notice it. So I took a picture of another part of the same set of bushes.
(Frost on a different part of those bushes, after a third day’s fog. (January 9, 2021))
There’s more to say about the science and beauty of freezing fog, but that will wait for another time.
Thinking about frost reminded me of rime, which reminded me of an old poem.
Oddly enough, “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” isn’t an ode to fog or frost. Although the poem mentions both.1
“…At length did cross an Albatross:
Thorough the fog it came;
As if it had been a Christian soul,
We hailed it in God’s name….
“…Her beams bemocked the sultry main,
Like April hoar-frost spread;
But where the ship’s huge shadow lay,
The charmed water burnt alway
A still and awful red….”
(“Rime of the Ancient Mariner;” Part the First, Part the Fourth; Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1798) via ProjectGutenberg.org)
The Ancient Mariner’s troublesome voyage — is another topic, for another day. Several days, most likely. It’s a long poem.
Judging from what I’ve seen in the news, several people were killed in or near the building housing America’s Congress. This happened on January 6, 2021.
At least one of Wednesday’s dead may have been an alleged attacker or rioter.
Assuming that all this is at least partly true, something bad seems to have happened in my nation’s capital.
But I don’t know nearly enough to have a reasoned opinion about what happened. Not in any detail. Much less who is responsible and to what extent.
America’s traditional news media asserts that the attackers — or rioters — support America’s president. And that America’s president is directly or indirectly responsible for their actions.
Again, I don’t know what happened. Or who arranged the incident.
I’m just summarizing what I see in my country’s traditional news media.
Aside from several deaths, a significant result of the attack was an uncharacteristically prompt show of legislative support for the chap who ran against the president in our recent election. Apparently. But I haven’t heard or read much about that action recently.
Other possibly-significant results include at least two social media services banning the American president. And, maybe, the start of a renewed and urgent discussion of restrictions for non-traditional news services.
I gather that these actions are intended to defend democracy. By silencing folks who lack sufficient enthusiasm for my country’s proper rulers.
Not that anyone’s been quite that blunt about it.
I’d be much more upset, worried and angry if I didn’t remember my ‘good old days.’
My teens almost exactly overlap the Sixties.
I think ‘the establishment’ of those days sincerely believed that they were defending America, democracy and freedom. And, thinking back on what was happening, I figure many of them were frightened. Terrified.
Their world was changing. Science and technology weren’t solving every problem.
The nation’s youth seemed ill-suited for their assigned role as torchbearers for liberty, conformity and suburban living. If that sounds familiar, it should. I said pretty much the same thing a couple years back. (May 12, 2018)
I was nowhere near the craziest of ‘those crazy kids.’ But I wasn’t willing to support the status quo then, or to try believing that “freedom” means “free to agree with me.”
A half-century later, ‘the establishment’ has different viewpoints, slogans and preferences. And, I very strongly suspect, they are driven by the same fervor for freedom: freedom to agree with them.
Change happens. It was happening in the Sixties. It’s happening now. And change can be a good thing.
As I said before, I have nowhere near enough reliable information to form a reasoned opinion about Wednesday’s killings and other events in my nation’s capital.
And as if Washington’s more-than-usually daft shenanigans weren’t enough, COVID-19 precautions now preclude singing during Mass, at least by the congregation. I most emphatically don’t like that.
But I’m quite sure that ranting won’t help anything or anyone. Me, least of all. And letting anger morph into hatred for individuals or groups would be worse.
Instead, I’ll talk about feelings and something I think is a good idea.
If I use the brains God gave me.
That’s an option, not a requirement.
Nothing forces me to think about what I believe, wonder why I believe it, or what I should do because I believe it.
Like every other human, I’m a “rational animal.” (Catechism, 1951)
I can make decisions based on reason rather than how I’m feeling.
Letting emotions and impulses guide may be easier than thinking, But my experience suggests that I’m better off if I think before I act.
Emotions are part of being human, too: part of a package that’s “very good.” An emotion isn’t “good” or “bad” by itself. What matters is what and how I think about the emotion, and what I decide to do about it. (Genesis 1:27–31; Catechism, 1763, 1767)
What I feel, think and do should continually honor and obey God. (Catechism, 1770)
They’re not, I don’t, and that’s yet another topic.
A couple more points, and I’ll move on.
That sort of love is a good idea.
This may sound familiar, too. (June 6, 2020)
It’s always a good idea, even when I don’t necessarily feel like praying for someone.
Maybe especially then, and that’s yet again another topic.
Anyway, the U.S. Bishops’ president said that he was “…praying for members of Congress and Capitol staff….” I think that makes sense:
“U.S. Bishops’ President Condemns Violent Protests and Prays for Safety as Chaos Threatens U.S. Capitol”
Public Affairs Office, USCCB (January 6, 2021)
“…’I join people of good will in condemning the violence today at the United States Capitol. This is not who we are as Americans. I am praying for members of Congress and Capitol staff and for the police and all those working to restore order and public safety….
“…I entrust all of us to the heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary. May she guide us in the ways of peace, and obtain for us wisdom and the grace of a true patriotism and love of country.'”
I also think that staying calm is a good idea. Even if it is challenging.
(Friday: a serene, or dreary, day. Depending on viewpoint. (January 8, 2021))
“Frosty as a tree?” That’s not how the poem goes:
Joyce Kilmer (1913)
“I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree….”
I’d planned on finishing this post on Saturday. Since I’m running out of Saturday, this is a good place to stop.
Besides, I’ve talked about the principles presently in play before:
- “November 3: The End of Civilization as We Know It (Again)”
(November 2, 2020)
- “Election-Year Weirdness: An American Tradition”
(October 21, 2020)
- “Beyond George Floyd”
(June 6, 2020)
- “Easter Sunday Bombings”
(April 27, 2019)
- “Homer, Hegel, History and Hope”
(May 12, 2018)