Two Very Different Historic Topics of Now ...
The Covid War Continues
It would have been very difficult to imagine, in early March of last year, that we would still be battling THE virus. One really has to feel for the legion of frontline workers who have been struggling at those front lines trying, with great courage, to contain the pandemic. They had nearly succeeded and then seen a resurgence; nearly succeeded again and then came this current attack which seems like the most virulent resurgence of all. How those frontline workers have the resilience to continue is heroic? We will be forever in their debt.
I presume one could say that most people have done their best but of course there are exceptions. The questions are not new about airports, cross-border travel, tracing, - which seems to be abandoned- and all those topics which seem to be on a loop on communication outlets.
One hears, from time to time, people who get infected expressing their puzzlement as to where they could have picked it up. The virus is so insidious with nightmarish tentacles.
The great hope is with the vaccines. So if we can continue with our adherence to guideline contribution, to our country and ourselves, as we enter the spring time of the year, we can once again renew our hope that the broad War may be receding.
“This is not the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
The Presidential Inauguration in the United (!) States;
The swearing-in of President Biden was a very interesting and relaxing event. In a sense millions of people exhaled a sigh of relief at a return of a kind of normality. There was also the end of a turbulent four years when an extraordinary President inflamed passions and was seen by so many to be so extreme in so many ways. (Now one always has to be conscious of the fact that Donald Trump got over 74 million votes).
Trump crashed in a number of the avenues he chose to go down especially in the post-election months. His insistence on the idea that the election was a fraud when so many pointers showed otherwise was one. It is referred to as ‘The Great Lie’, apparently having a historical precedent. The real crash came with the Rally of January 6th when President Trump encouraged his supporters to challenge the political establishment in the Capitol. This they did in a very unforgiving way and Trump’s response was neither reasonable or politically smart.
When someone makes a mistake he might ask himself ‘What was I thinking about’. More often that question is asked ‘What were you thinking about?’ So Trump, Giuliana and Donald Jnr. all lost it in that they could hardly have envisaged the carnage they were encouraging. Or could they?
This led to the second Impeachment which is proceeding now even if Trump is no longer a President. It is pretty obvious that President Biden is struggling with this action. On the one hand, there is a feeling of necessity to punish Tump’s behaviour and responsibility for the March on the Capitol and the deaths, destruction and Insurrection style symbolism of it all. Also, there is the idea that it is the only real opportunity to clear Trump from getting back on the political stage.
For Biden on the other hand it is going to be a big distraction from that precious first 100 days and keeps Trump in the limelight and indulge his huge support. Then, of course, there is the danger of making Trump some kind of martyr and we in Irish history know a bit about that.
The U.S. is said to be nearly as divided now as in the period after the Civil War of the 1860s’. The period after their Civil War was known the period of ‘Reconstruction’ but others also see it as a continuance of the Civil War with the Suppression of the rights of coloured people in the South and so on.
Perhaps some winter hence the Night Class scene could include a course on United States History.
Returning to the Inauguration, there was a great feel to it, of peace, hope and celebration. The theme was one of bipartisanship and coming together. While Biden is in in a strong position in the political houses it seems as if the ongoing policy of the Republicans in the Senate will be one of obstruction and delay. A lot of the sentiment expressed immediately after January 6th will be cast aside.
The big chess piece here is Mitch McConnell.
Getting back again to Jan. 20th, there was a big inclusion of faith and practitioners of faith with the huge Bible, priest friend and Reverend friend. The entertainment was loud and colourful with Lady Gaga punching it out with J Lo and Garth Brooks with Amazing Grace. Keep in mind the M.C. Amy Klobuchar whose joy was so evident. Last summer she was seen as a Vice President candidate but stepped back from it. The really happy face in it all was Vice-President Kamala Harris. She is the first woman to be such and a real contender. She is bound to attempt goin the extra step up when the opportunity arises.
For me though the lady who stole the show was the 22-year-old Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman with a ‘poem’ titled ‘The Hill We Climb’. It was not just a reading or recital of a poem but a performance of art as the clear voice, the gesticulating hands and all her body and soul exclaimed her message.
I encourage you to Google her performance on U Tube. It could join some of the great speech passages such as President J.F Kennedy’s
‘Ask not what your country can do for you ask what you can do for your country’
or the great
‘I Have a Dream’ speech of Martin Luther King, who, in a sense, enabled Amanda and Kamala to be on the Capitol podium on Jan. 20th.
For me to go onto some more mundane topics, after listening to Amanda again there now, does not seem appropriate.
I think I’ll take a good break and end here with two favourite conclusion extracts, the first from Thomas Kinsella’s poem;
‘Mirror in February’
“I fold my towel with what grace I can,
Not young, and not renewable, but man”.
This vies with some closing lines from Robert Frost’s;
‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’.
‘The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep’.
(Frost recited a poem at J.F. K’s inauguration)
‘May your Gods go with you’ (Dave Allen).