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Our Civilization

Simon Schama Says... (in Civilization, 2018) 
"We can spend a lot of time debating

    what a civilization is or isn't, 

    but when its opposite shows up - 

    in all its brutality & cruelty & intolerance

    & lust for destruction

    we know what civilization is. 

 

 We know it from the shock of its imminent loss

    as a mutilation on the body of our humanity."

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Danger: Times-We’re-In

Ask your folks, but I know I've never felt our country to be in such danger. Going back to Viet Nam - that was a devil-issue, tragic and viciously fought over, but this is what feels like an infectious Moral Rot spreading through our country fast as the California/Australia fires, and as devastating to every good feeling & principle, every belief that freedom & right will triumph that we've always been sure of! The institutions we've counted on to protect us are being destroyed & a frightening percentage of the populace don't seem to mind! 

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useful to remember?

...from an Interview about ABRAHAM

 

"I've written more than twenty plays, all about things I care about, but this is the one that feels to me the most essential, a play that had to be written, we need it so.  In this terrifying time, our world is smaller and smaller, and rife with hatreds, so many growing from a profound lack of understanding of, and empathy for, 'the other.'   A tale that reminds us how to love our enemy is useful.


"One essential, though, is that people will come up to me and say 'This is about more than it's about,' and I say 'Yes. I think its about saving ourselves - that is, to go so deep into the heart of our enemy that we have no choice but to embrace him, and, in that embrace, is the answer to everything.'"

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Nation in crisis

"I stand before you, no more than a girl.

... And you will follow me.
Each knowing I was nothing, as all,

however mighty, are as nothing.
But one as small as me who with an open heart

sees evil and cries "No. This must not be!"

can make it so.
For all God needs to battle evil
is one who loves enough to feel his power
and stand up unafraid.
...
"To know God's earthly sign to you,

each place your hand upon your chest with me.
Feel your heart pound against your honest palm?
Now look to the man beside you.

His is beating too.  And so is mine.
And all belong to that same leap of joy

– the quick'ning babe inside the mother's beat.
And so we all can join!  And when we do,

we will together beat as God's own heart.
And against this force...no siege can ever stand!!"

--from Act I, Me & Joan, ks
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Creating together

Some chemical bond happens when individuals create together: and yes, we call it trust and knowing each other - both of which it is - but some 'platform' is also laid down that allows your work together to keep growing, getting richer. There’s no objective measure.  It's mysterious. It’s organic.  And unfathomable.

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Crisis

When I sang the nation's soul
I once felt out of place
but now I know I was made for this
for now we must remember
who we are

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Gaza

To see so clearly the human truth
and yet be unable to stop the pain
is to weep forever
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"We travel together..."

"We travel together, passengers on a little space ship, dependent on its vulnerable reserves of air and soil; all committed for our safety to its security and peace; preserved from annihilation only by the care, the work, and, I will say, the love we give our fragile craft. We cannot maintain it half fortunate, half miserable, half confident, half despairing,half slave—to the ancient enemies of man—half free in a liberation of resources undreamed of until this day. No craft, no crew can travel safely with such vast contradictions. On their resolution depends the survival of us all."  Adlai Stevenson (to the UN) - 1965

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UNRESOLVABLE?

The more stubbornly a conflict resists resolution, the greater the need for artists to illuminate its key...
...which can only be found where we lost it: in the human heart

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THE DARK TIME - Hurricane Sandy

Funny thing was, when we finally had TV again and began to watch a perfectly respectable historical documentary Tom had recorded sometime, he asked me how I liked it, and I said - you know. at first, watching this made me feel resentful. Why? Because I was suddenly so stunningly aware of how film-tv-computer visuals (none of which we'd had for five days) usurp one's life - just suck up every faculty and leave us lumps - rapt, inert, dull - like sponges with no capacity for any output. Is that extreme of me? No doubt.
But being without all the things we didn't have - having at every turn to ask myself what I could do next - how to be comfortable, content, clean, warm, fed, able to accomplish something, stimulated - under the limits of dark during the majority of hours, no heat, no electricity, no hot water, no elevator, no phone, no internet, no cell phone, no transport (and not in the mood to carry bikes down pitch black four winding flights) - All this made me hyper aware of being alive -of managing somehow to make arrangements for all those things we so automatically have and expect will be there at our disposal - how to compensate, how to re-create - what we could improvise...and the bone deep joy of simple music, the making of music, of singing, of dancing, of reading, of each other, of getting out into the air, of getting around in pitch black streets - no street lights, no traffic lights, everything shut up, dark, dead silence in the narrows of the city, and then of sleeping deep, and of waking when light comes, of solitude - with no obligations -except to somehow...live.

Now we are relieved, comfortable. recovering, but maybe perhaps, not quite so alive.

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