May 31, 2003

This World is Not My Home

In this false lull between 'wars' (at least the CNN all-war-all-the-time type), it has been a matter of great mental health for me to focus exclusively on the smaller world around me once more... to plant seeds, take the binoculars and camera along on slow walks to nowhere, to pause to let words come in from books and out through unfettered writing in the early mornings. And yet, there is a guilty tension between living in the moment with what I can touch and see, and knowing at greater distances, my homeland is not at peace, nor is it peaceful.

Douglas Haynes, who lives in the "Northeast Kingdom" of Vermont, in this excellent piece from Orion Magazine, struggles with this tension between kingdoms... the world of nature's healing beauty, the words of the poet-- and the strident graphics and words of CNN and the kingdom they represent. Perhaps you too can feel his unrest living in these two worlds at once...

This winter, almost any randomly tuned-in moment of the news made clear the Bush Administration's determination to dominate the world. Yet when I turned the radio off, my anger was difficult to reconcile with what I saw out the window: the soft, white curves of hayfields; the mountains looking airbrushed with snow. I kept asking myself how I could be absorbed by the aesthetics of landscape when I'm governed by an executive branch hell-bent on empire. It was too easy, as Merwin's poem implies, to identify solely with nonhuman nature and disassociate myself from the nation that has always been my country:
It is too simple to turn to the sound Of frost stirring among its Stars like an animal sleep In the winter night And say I was born far from home If there is a place where this is the language may It be my country

Mr. Haynes does not resolve this conflict, but he does ask the right questions. Thanks, Cassandra Pages, for the pointer. The discussion is apropos to the larger topic of place, and will likely see further elaboration in posts soon to come from the group of place-bloggers that are forming in community. Please join us.

Posted by fred1st at May 31, 2003 06:28 AM | TrackBack
Comments

While I hear what you are saying and often find myself in that place of guilt and tension, the rationalization I feed myself is this: Those young men and women are fighting for freedom and for peace. (an oxymoron for sure) We immediately think of such extravagant freedoms as speech and religion but what about the freedom to just enjoy the beauty that God has given? Surely, peace is not only the absence of war. Peace, for me, is that moment when God's bounty overwhelms the senses and the little battles of the mind are abated. To acquiesce this right would be to make a mockery of the lives given.

Posted by: Lisa at May 31, 2003 09:10 AM

Dominate the world? Empire?


I don't recall such introspection and hand wringing when we dropped millions of tons of munitions on the helpless peasants of Yugoslavia for 77 days. Clinton literally destroyed an entire country for "regime change" to remove one man...without UN or European approval.

The Muslim Kosovars haven't expressed any thanks nor has their brethern.

Ask yourself what Gore would have done post 9/11? Would he have waited ten months to strike at world wide terrorist organizations? I think not.

Gerald Ford once said that the choices are already made when POTUS takes the oath of office and none of them are good or what one intended.

If we do not stand up to tryanny then we will one day live under it.

That you can take to the bank.

Posted by: feste at June 1, 2003 12:05 AM

Dominate the world? Empire?


I don't recall such introspection and hand wringing when we dropped millions of tons of munitions on the helpless peasants of Yugoslavia for 77 days. Clinton literally destroyed an entire country for "regime change" to remove one man...without UN or European approval.

The Muslim Kosovars haven't expressed any thanks nor has their brethern.

Ask yourself what Gore would have done post 9/11? Would he have waited ten months to strike at world wide terrorist organizations? I think not.

Gerald Ford once said that the choices are already made when POTUS takes the oath of office and none of them are good or what one intended.

If we do not stand up to tryanny then we will one day live under it.

That you can take to the bank.

Posted by: feste at June 1, 2003 12:05 AM

Profound. I've got the address and the citizenship papers, but sit wherever I may, I feel that there's a barbed-wire fence running around my person that many fear to cross.

Posted by: Joel at June 3, 2003 04:05 AM

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