Monday, July 4, 2011

Bombs bursting in air

"It’s easy to forget, especially around U.S. Independence Day, how much trial and error went into the creation of American democracy ... The warm and wise philosopher Jacob Needleman looked back at the American founders with this in mind for his book "The American Soul." He found that every iconic institution, every political value, had “inward work” of conscience behind it. Every hard-won right had a corresponding responsibility." ~~Krista Tippett, blogging about her 2003 interview with Mr. Needleman.

Her blog, and the interview itself, are truly worth spending a few minutes with today. Wow. Jacob Needleman is a great, humane thinker, which is one of the reasons I loved his book so much when I read it a few years ago. Jacob Needleman is NOT a cynic. It's so refreshing!

I try NOT to be cynical whenever possible. When I get cynical, sarcastic, I find that state of being so exhausting. I feel that my connection to the life force becomes thin and brittle, that my sense of gratitude and appreciation for the beauty of life shrivels up until I can't breathe. Oh god I really try to avoid getting into a state of cynicism. It does not help me in any way.

No matter about my resolve, there are times when I find myself choking and gasping for energy, for air. Sometimes it takes awhile to realize I've lapsed into the sharp, biting, stingy thought-form of cynicism.

This year, the Fourth of July is a tough day for me. Today it would be all too easy to tip over, face first, into cynicism, to characterize Americans as mindless buffoons because our traditions around this holiday include getting drunk, eating charred meat and setting off small bombs. In years past, that's exactly how I spent the day - grilling ribs, hanging out with the neighbors, drinking beer all day. This year, I'm out of that pattern, feeling at odds with everything at the moment. Dang, man.

Is it wrong to want to have some fun, blow off steam, in celebration? Nope, there's nothing wrong with that. Just because I had a bad week doesn't mean anyone else should be moping around today, yes? I say yes.

Jacob Needleman says that America has always been a mess, since the get-go, but that's no reason to hate America or Americans. OK. I agree completely. But being an American is complicated, it really is.

I'm going to the movies today. Tonight I'm not sure what I'm going to do. Later, when the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air begins just a few blocks away on the National Mall, I'm going to try very hard to keep breathing, to exhale any tendency towards cynicism. Can I do it? YES I CAN. May it be so!


Reya Mellicker said...

May we all be liberated from the things that oppress us: our fears, our worries, guilt, bouts of the shoulds. May each of us muster the nerve to declare ourselves independent and interdependent, may we find within ourselves the confidence to get out from under the thumb of whatever weighs us down. May freedom ring. Cheers!

Steve Reed said...

Bravo for your reluctance to lapse into cynicism. I find myself fighting the same tendency, and you're right -- it's really just destructive anger.

America HAS always been a mess. The frustrating thing to me is that many Americans feel it's an affront to say that -- to admit to our own many shortcomings. We have a terrific society, but it's far from perfect!

steven said...

reya i'd rather be in a place characterized by messiness than thoroughly organized. we know what that looks like. messiness means there are all sorts of possibilities, opportunities, newness can be created. have a lovely day. steven

Reya Mellicker said...

Oh yeah, Steven. In Fascist Italy, the trains were always on time.

Destructive anger? Perfect way to describe it, Steve.

Love my Steve and Steven. Not "my" as in ownership, my as in friends.

ellen abbott said...

it's just going to be a quiet day here. no fireworks allowed because of the drought.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

sometimes i find a little cynicism helps me get through tough spots!

maybe a triple feature can help get you through the rockets bursting in air!

Elizabeth said...

I'm a cynic through and through --you are right --not a healthy place to be
I just get so fed up with mumbled pieties and the America has the BEST ( fill in the blank).

Yes, America is terrific. I'm here. I don't have to be here! But somethings make me quite crazy.
Hope you find a nice amusing or uplifting movie.

ps you need a dog to help you connect to IMPORTANT STUFF like food and sniffing things.......

Cyndy said...

I used go about my life wearing a protective sheild of sarcasm and cynicism in an effort to appear "cool" - although actually it was more like a thin veneer. And I had a bit of an attitude about Independance Day too.

I remember the first time I went to "A Capitol 4th" - I went all by myself on the metro to see a friend who was playing in the symphony concert. At first I kind of lurked around the edges, but eventually I found a place to sit right in front of the orchestra. All the way down I kept saying to myself "I can't believe I'm actually going to this thing" but by end I started to think it was actually kind of cool in spite of being somewhat cheezy and I went a couple more times after that.

But like you, I'm just going to enjoy it this year as a day off from everything, whatever that ends up meaning as the day goes on. Enjoy your day off!

Linda Sue said...

I trust cynics more than Polly Pollyanna. My mom was Pollyanna my dad was a cynic- he always told the truth. I couldn't always count on my mom to be truthful through all of that shitty silver lining and sunny side of the street crap.
I guess a little of both makes a nice balance.

Reya Mellicker said...

Thanks, Cyndy.

I like cheezy, when I'm in the right mood for it.

You know you ARE cool, right? REally cool.

Reya Mellicker said...

I love me a Pollyanna any day of the week. It's a matter of perspective, finding the silver lining, no less true than any other explanation of what we perceive.