Tuesday, November 27, 2012
As I was dropping off to sleep last night, after answering Linda's last message, I was reminded of a conversation with my husband, Bill, many years ago:
It was one of those days when he was deep into grant-writing for the continuation of Project Community, the research project he had created through the psych department at the university. He was in the early "thinking through justification" segment of the application; that part that I couldn't help with anyway, so there I stood in the doorway all bundled up ready to join some demonstration or other that would soon be underway down the hill on the steps of Sproul Hall on campus. Somewhat petulantly but with good humor, he affectionately tucked my bright red wool scarf a bit closer to my chin saying, "you know, Hon, that it takes many decades to get measurable social change, and sometimes it takes centuries. All of your marching and protesting and letter-writing campaigns are meaningless against that truth." I guessed that his words were simply an expression of his wanting me to be somewhere in the house where he could hear my footsteps overhead as he worked in his big Charles Eames "thinking" chair beside the fireplace in the downstairs library.
I remember looking up at him and saying with conviction, "... but if you didn't have dedicated crazy folks like me marching, protesting, and letter-writing today, you scientists wouldn't have any social change to measure over time!"
I think my exchange with Linda speaks to that truth.
For all of my understanding of well-traveled journalist Linda's more sophisticated and informed position, my disappointment in the president's dismissive treatment of the Rule of Law remains steadfast. Even understanding the risks to life and limb of our citizens overseas; even understanding the dilemmas leaders are faced with in guiding the nation forward while carrying the burden of the errors of previous administrations; and, despite the limitations and vulnerabilities of being human -- somewhere among us there must be those ordinary folks, like me, who have our eyes firmly set on our ideals and demanding nothing but "perfection," even when the word has to be set in quotes. Maybe we serve as lodestones, stars to set our compasses by, and are only meaningful when viewed from space. Maybe we only hold influence in the aggregate, and are insignificant, individually. But, maybe it is we who keep the faith with each succeeding generation as, together, we create and re-create participatory democracy in our time.
Maybe this is but one more example of the relative comfort with "conflicting truths" that I've matured enough to have aged into. (and, yes, I'm aware that this is worded awkwardly, but it's precisely what I mean.)