Thursday, November 10, 2016

In Remembrance

First published on November 10th, 2011

Some years ago when I was sitting on the beach at Whitefish Point just north of the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, a couple of old men ambled past and stood close together on the sand hard by the shore. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop but couldn’t help overhearing what passed between them, which was far more than mere words.

These men spent their lives as mariners on Superior. They spoke of the big lake as a woman, spoke of her with reverence, awe and regret. In old age these men still both loved and feared the lake. Even though the day was bright and calm, with the surface of Superior as placid and blue as ever it gets, their conversation turned mostly upon hard times spent trying to escape their love’s final embrace.

I recall those old men sometimes, when sitting beside Superior in her many moods. But I think of them always on November 10th, which was the date in 1975 when the Edmund Fitzgerald went down with all hands.

No one knows for certain why the Fitzgerald sank, though the question continues to be asked because that’s what we do -- we try to impose a sense of certainty upon an uncertain world. We do that so we might fool ourselves into believing that our constructs provide some final measure of control over a world utterly indifferent to human concern. That’s bald conceit. What’s true is that Lake Superior is big and men are small and sometimes we can’t survive its embrace no matter how mighty our lifeboat.

Superior serves as grave to untold thousands of human souls, from native peoples plucked out of canoes to Voyageurs caught between safe harbors, from pleasure seekers run afoul of sudden weather to seasoned crews serving aboard the mightiest ships men can construct. So please take a moment out of your busy day to remember those souls lost and to consider, however briefly, that no matter the might of human industry, it’s never greater than a speck of dust in the eye of a storm…

“If they’d put fifteen more miles behind her…”

Whitefish Bay, from a vintage 35mm transparency

Friday, November 4, 2016

I digress...

                                                                                    Credit: In Your Face Radio

An estimated 57.5% of eligible voters chose to exercise their franchise during the 2012 Presidential election. That means "some 93 million eligible citizens did not vote".

What's true is that fascism didn't rise in 1930's Germany because fascism was strong. Fascism is a coward's way, it's never strong. Fascism infected Germany then near laid waste to the world because a critical number of German people surrendered to fear, anger and resentment. That made their democracy weak.

Think on that, whether you intend this year to vote in anger or with a pox on both their houses shrug, don't plan to vote at all. Or worse, figure to waste your franchise to vote for a candidate that cannot win and thus serve the needs of your own moral vanity at the expense of your neighbors and country.

Think hard on 1930's Germany. It  echoes resurgent cross the American landscape these days, disguised as patriotism promising greatness and growing fat off terminal discontent. The stench of fear turns the air rancid. And with that, moral equivalence is made to seem like reason.

Think on these things then vote like your life, your liberty and the pursuit of your happiness depend on you simply showing up and choosing to do the right thing. Truth is, they do. They always do.

We've come too far to turn back. The time to sow the wretched ground of fear, exclusion and misogyny with salt so to purge those poisons from the greater American landscape e'en unto the last generation is now. The opportunity is at hand. History demands it. Woe be the world if we don't take it.

Get off your ass and vote, damn it.

And in the event you can't be bothered, at the very least never again dare let anyone hear you whine about the state of things in America.

Because you'll have surrendered the right, no matter how inalienable.