Thursday, December 31, 2009

Hope abides

At the end of an awful decade, one so marred by the dismal, disgraceful, and destructive Bush presidency that its stain will not be removed in our lifetime, we entered into 2009 with a spirit of hope. Americans had just elected an African American to the Presidency -- a bold departure from our past that was broader even than the gulf between the previous President's incoherent faux-cowboy belligerence and the soaring rhetoric and highmindedness of Barack Obama. Though we entered upon this last year of the decade of naught with two failed wars still in progress, with a rapidly collapsing economic system, and with the mountain of debt left by the GOP Congress and Mr Bush, nonetheless some of us also felt a deep and reassuring hopefulness -- a sense that we were finally heading in the right direction, that our highest aspirations might finally begin to be met. With such hope and such aspirations came expectations that have not been met.

This last year has been disappointing. We are more deeply engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan than I had hoped. The health care reform bills have fallen short of my expectations. The economic program has been too timid -- too much of a trickle-down Republican model, and too little has been done to help the unemployed and those in real difficulty in these hard times. Watching the Democrats in Congress take their lead from blue dogs, "moderate" Republicans, and Joe Lieberman, has been profoundly disheartening.

Yet, even on the darkest days, hope abides. It is a hope that I cannot explain or defend, but at its center is the belief that a nation that could elect Barack Obama is a nation that can come to understand the righteousness and wisdom of the progressive agenda, and to support that agenda so that Congress and this President can bring its benefits to our children and the generations of Americans who will inherit the America we leave behind when we go.

Wishing you all a happy new year. May all your highest aspirations be realized in the year to come.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Progress: The Best Gift

Progress is slow, and has many enemies. They fear the cost; they see only the sacrifice and worry that something important is being overlooked. And so they wait and suffer for the waiting: the poor, the uninsured, the unemployed, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The dream that is America - a dream of equality and human dignity expressed in the words of our Declaration of Independence but has taken two centuries and more to even approach realization. How far we still are from realizing that dream for all of us, for the least of us.

And yet, there are days when you can feel the progress, and sense the dream in motion, like a moving river or the shifting plates of the Earth herself. It may be naive, but I believe in progress. I believe in that dream. This is the Christmas spirit flickering brightly in the heart of a nation born to be a light unto the world.

Merry Christmas to all of you.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


A good friend sends sad news. The Boy Scout Council that received a generous gift of land in the 60's for the purpose of camping and outdoor activities, has decided to close the camp and sell the land. More about this later; I have no time now to do more than provide the link to this appalling and deeply shameful act.

Conservation is a fundamental value in Scouting, and what this news amounts to is a gross failure of stewardship -- a disgraceful failure to conserve the benefits of a generous gift so that it might be enjoyed for the ages. In just 40 years, the incompetents in charge of the Council have managed to screw it up so badly that the lands we loved are now on the auction block. They can claim to be doing this as a service to the boys, and in making such a claim they confess their own culpable dishonesty and reckless destructiveness.

When the camp is no more, and the lands have been put to other uses, who will know the true cost? Those of us who slept soundly on summer nights under canvas tents beneath familiar Hemlock trees, and who tread the trails from one end of the camp to the other a thousand times, will have our memories. Little did we know how lucky we were, nor appreciate how vulnerable such things are in a world where even Scouters fail to conserve.