READING THE SUNDAY NYTIMES
Phyllis says I should not read the newspaper over breakfast. I get too upset and it probably spoils my days. The problem is that I have been reading a newspaper every morning since I was ten years old when I read them while rolling them for delivery.
Some days are worse than others. Today was really bad. The front page of the NYTimes has five stories. Four of them are bad news: the NSA is using our social networks for information; the lack of memory about the 1995 government shutdown and its consequences; the numbers of children killed by guns which tend to be undercounted; and Syria (need I say more?). The one good story in a small box on the bottom right (below the fold and to the right are the least read parts of a news page) which tells of how Bard College pays more attention to the actual intelligence of students rather than the results of standard tests.
I regard that last story as good news simply because the special nature of small liberal arts colleges is noted. I went to such a school, Shimer College, and credit my education there for the disciplining and growth of my intellect.
Inside section one were stories about human rights abuses in South Sudan; fears in the Somali-American community; fear on the part of Israel and Saudi Arabia that peace between Iran and the US might come about; creationists in Texas being on the panel that chooses biology textbooks for the state; and the comeback of the dirndl dress in Bavaria(?!).
I really thought that when I moved to the mountains and retired I could lay down my picket sign (metaphorically) and finish the book I’ve been trying to get published; revive my music skills; and read the shelves of books that await my attention. Also, with Phyllis also retired, I still hope for more time to travel and so other things with her.
Instead I find myself increasingly drawn back to activism. Our congressional representative, who claims he is not Tea Party, has become a voice for shutting down the government unless the ACA is defunded. The state I live in is on its way to becoming Mississippi in the 1950s with a storm of legislation that comes from Koch Brothers philosophy by way of a local guy named Arthur Pope. Our county commission is dominated by men (the five commissioners are all men) who likewise seem to want a return to the 1950s. The state has refused Medicaid funds which is stupid because those eligible have to get benefits anyway. They have written a very restrictive set of rules for elections. Despite being dominated by a party which supposedly favors less government they are having the state take over major infrastructure assets that were in the hands of local government including water and airports.
What’s an old activist to do? I have been in demand as a speaker and am considering breaking with my self-made promise back in 1973 to stay out of party politics. My best hope is to see some heads that are not yet grey take over the work of Tiqqun Olam (Fixing the World).