“I want to wander. But the past still needs me.
How could I ever leave?”
– Hua Xi, The Past Still Needs Me
A sentiment I have heard more and more in recent years from confused and weary liberals is the bitter sense that Lincoln made a grave mistake in keeping the Union together. Why bother? Why not let the South just go? I was first asked this question just after the 2016 election, but I get it more these days, both from my students and from folks who would be pretty happy creating a United Republic of the East and West Coasts and calling it a day. Let them have kept their slaves. Let them have their guns and their backward lives. Leave us out of it.
Continue reading “The Past Still Needs Us”
When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d,
And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,
I mourn’d, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.
Sometime this month or next, the United States will hit a once-unimaginable milestone: one million dead from coronavirus. When that happens, the reaction from many will be muted. Americans are exhausted, most agree, and they are ready to put the pandemic behind them, whether or not the pandemic is done with them. We have hit so many milestones by now that these numbers appear almost meaningless to us. What makes one million more unimaginable than any of the rest of them?
Continue reading “Abandoning the ‘War’ on COVID”
On Wednesday, January 6th, 2021, I made the mistake of scheduling an eye exam for mid-afternoon. This meant that just as the rioters were breaking into the Capitol, I was having my eyes dilated, and subsequently lost my ability to see clearly for a few hours. Having heard just enough before I went in to know that something was going on, I tried to look at my phone anyway, before remembering, belatedly, that there are other ways of getting the news and turning on NPR for my walk home instead.
Continue reading “Fidelity”