6.23.2006

Eh what?

Okay, so I have some thoughts:
Mom and Dad have been gone all week at a camp in Arkansas, and they got back this afternoon, so the news was on the telly for the first time this week (I avoid TV and the news when I can, because I really suspect neither one is profitable). Here's the thing: everything on the news tonight was either absurd (a special on hospitals' and car companies' enlarging things to benefit from America's heightening obesity; also, anything that has anything whatsoever to do with celebrities--why do we care, again?) or terrifying and morbid (three murders today in Memphis; North Korea has a frigging massive missile sitting out on a launch pad, with plans to send it schlepping our way Sunday, and all our fancy Star Wars teknolajee has no chance at all of doing anything about it, oh noes). Okay, so, right, before the Vietnam War, the news sort of existed to spur Americans on toward patriotism, or to comfort them, and whatnot. For the most part, the news basically put faith in the government, and attempted to do something positive for the minds of the people. Now, as far as I can tell, the news exists to undercut the government, supposedly in the people's interest (eh what?), by revealing secrets better kept secret (such as, how our technology works, and its shortcomings) to, oh, Americans, and anyone else who happens to be able to tune in to NBC. And then it loves to undercut whoever happens to be in power, unless those people happen to be Democrats, no matter their moral character. Not that, say, Cheney's character is all that great, but it's the principle of the thing. I think ultimately our newsies are only out to make money for themselves. They need to fling away all of their protestations of altruism; I'm not having any of it. As far as I'm concerned, they're despots who take their greatest delight in the twisting of minds. People scoff when Dr. Thomas or I mention truth, goodness, and beauty (a trinity that I got from Dr. T.), but I think there's something to be said for the search for them. Hang politics; hang the media. Where's honesty? Where's an attempt at communication for the good of the people--not for that crushed and papery sort of good that says we must know everything our government does (honestly, I don't want to; some things are better left unrevealed, and all ignorance isn't bad. I don't trust the government all that much, but I don't see how my knowing more about its darker deeds does me any good), but for the real good that allows us to live with a measure of national pride as people who belong to a country that works pretty well and allows us to live long lives.

I think about the land of America often. So many of our thinkers over the centuries have attached an enormous importance to the physicality of the country; it was Eden, or the promised land, or simply a place of opportunity. The land redeemed the people by its innate goodness. Compared with the crush and smoke of Europe, it looked like Paradise come back down to earth. Of course, our first impulse was to flatten and pave as much of it as possible, but occasionally between the buildings and past the cities we can see glimpses of that pioneer's paradise. America is brilliant, you know. Verdant. I went hiking on Tuesday instead of spending all day underground in the library stacks, and though I have since suffered from maddening bites on my ankles (honestly, I sprayed bugspray everywhere, but I didn't expect the wretches to go under my socks and inside my shoes. I will not make that mistake twice), I have to say that Tuesday's excursion was good for the soul. We took a long walkway over a place called--I kid you not--Dismal Swamp, and I saw tiny fish perpetually hanging still against the current, mouths open to catch food drifting down, a spider sitting calmly on the surface of the water, to skim madly to some grass when K dropped a stick near it, and roots of--I think--cyprus trees, growing up through the water to protrude from the ground like teeth or stalagmites or houses of some strange, Seussian community. I saw granite covered with mosses, broken from huge chunks into large chunks by the slow grinding of vegetable growth. I climbed to the top of a watchtower and looked out onto the top of the forest and saw no signs of civilization anywhere (bless it). It was beautiful. J broke the trail for us, catching many spiders' webs in the face, and I thought about how He goes before us everywhere we go, preparing the way. It was such a perfect picture of what He does for us.

But back to the land--I do tend to agree that there's something special about the land. The Book talks about how all of creation groans and travails as in the pangs of childbirth, yearning to be renewed. I think creation, though incapable of reason as we know it, knows better than we do how far the fall has been, and so wishes harder for redemption. And religions like those of the Saxons and the Celts, who revered trees and who felt deeply a connection to their land, had something in them that we've lost in our ever so rationalistic age, with our ancient contempt for anything beneath us in our Great Chain of Being. Look at the Children of Israel in the OT, how important the land was, and how often He took them out of it and promised to bring them back to it. The land was dear to Him, I think, though I don't know whether it was more or less dear than any other piece of land. He didn't separate it from the people as far as we have, though. When man sinned, the land suffered. When he repented, God healed the land. There's a connection we're missing.

I don't know precisely where I'm going with all this, save that I've been enjoying the land here. America is an uncommonly beautiful place, and though I disagree with Emerson that Nature is redemptive, I believe we ought to enjoy it and take care of it--shepherd it, in a way--precisely because it's not ours, but we've been given responsibility for it. I think part of that responsibility is to respect it, not in the obnoxious, PETA, Greenpeace way, but in recognizing that we owe it something and will answer for our treatment of it later.

2 comments:

Tracie Simer said...

I never scoffed at Dr. T's quest for the holy trinity of history. He was my favorite prof. Good for you for carrying that on!

Amber said...

two words on the media: fear and consupmption. i agree they are out for money. thanks for calling emerson out - i agree w/ the good Book on this one. i used to be quite caught up in Emerson and it wasn't so good for the soul all the time. don't be scared to sound like an idealist sometimes and don't apologize.