Calhoun’s Can(n)ons, The Bay New, Tolosa Press, SLO CA for December 19, 08
America can change. That is the true genius of this nation
President-elect Barak Obama
The tall nutcrackers have been removed from their dusty cartons to stand guard in the coming solstice night. The Christmas lights gleam in the darkness once again. But for me it’s a season out of sorts. Instead of chill nights and the crows muttering in the cold morning dark, it’s now heat waves and time for short sleeved tee shirts. The nasturtiums in the back yard have raced to put out huge mounds of bright green leaves and new flowers, paying no attention to a sudden cold snap that will unexpectedly arrive to play havoc with their unseasonable green rebellion. Such treacherous topsy-turvy weather is fair warning of the unstable future that is now ours .
For eight years, the dark turning of the year kept getting darker and grimmer as the war’s body count rose and the loss and destruction to this country from the incompetent bunglers and appalling klepocrats in federal office got worse and worse, and the nation fell deeper into a kind of paralyzed sleep while the ship of state headed for the rocks.
And now that the crash has come, amidst a transformative election surrounded by talk of “re-booting America,” and the sense that we’re witnessing a strange déjà vu re-run of the Kennedy era -- that other “generation of change” -- I feel not elation, but only a kind of weary dismay. I am still deeply puzzled as to why and how eight years of this administrative disaster was allowed to continue for so long, why there was such a total failure of all our critical governmental checks and balances, and how to account for the lassitude of a people so inattentive that they couldn’t even move to save their own skins before it was too late.
And since our national Pandora’s box has loosed so many ills into the world, we will be faced with our self-generated blow-back for years to come. But as the ancient legend reminds us, there in the bottom of the box lies hope as well. It is past time to release that sacred gift and pray that Obama was right when he spoke after the New Hampshire primary, “For when we have faced down impossible odds, when we’ve been told we’re not ready or that we shouldn’t try or that we can’t, generations of Americans have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes we can.”
Yes we can. That is a generational cry, as new as a child, as ancient as the hills, as regular and predictable as the turning of the world from the dark winter night of sleep and a passing away, to a new rising of the returning sun that will soon warm the earth once again. It is to be found in the legend of the Fisher King, the myths of the gods made human, come to make earth bright again. It is in all the archetype salvation stories of resurrections and reincarnations, the Great Wheel, Pluto and Persephone, even old Scrooge and his renewing epiphany, all pointing timelessly to the true fact of the world: Change, transformation, constant, fluid, fleeting, all is in flux and flow.
In the evening sky Jupiter, Venus and a crescent moon are all closely aligned in a rare fifty year event, an astonishingly bright celestial dance for winter. It isn’t a Christmas star, but perhaps it will do to lift our spirits and guide whatever wise men we have left. The young generation now moving into their own will not see that celestial gathering again until they are as old as I am now.
It will be a new world when the stars and moon come together again to dance in such perfect alignment, but much will still be the same. On a winter’s night, the candles will be lit, the old songs sung, the families will gather. And in the trees somewhere, there will be crows muttering in the dark, gossiping about one another and kraa-kakking a warning about that odd old lady standing at the end of her driveway in the early dawn, looking east for the rising sun.