My Turn: Choosing wisely for ourselves, next generation


Published: 05-13-2024 6:25 PM


In the larger picture, we’re not that much different from the rest of the animal kingdom, except that we can build within or outside the laws of nature.

Follow what are observable truths or jump down rabbit holes, jump off cliffs, ignore the weather, create imaginary wonderlands where fantasy abounds, and our egos can drive us to any logical or illogical conclusion it so desires. Free will becomes mantra, privilege the right, human talent and cunning the preeminent arbiter of right and wrong, building and destroying.

That’s the big picture, but of course not entirely.

With that backdrop, the curtain always rises somewhere, lights dimming somewhere else. Comedy and tragedy cross the stage in equal degree. We’re caught in the middle figuring out if we bought the ticket to this spectacle or if the marquee down the alley has the best show. Is it all just a cosmic game? We know we have to take conscious responsibility when all is said and done — our “superior” intelligence is a tool allowing us endless choices, freedom of action — discern our best interests, but stop here: Why revere violence? Violence is defeat.

The U.S. should continue to cease all weapons shipments, look at Israel as a brother which we’ve unconditionally supported in the worst of times when the world was condemning it. The idea being that brothers don’t let brothers commit extreme acts that cause injury and death if they can do anything to prevent it.

That’s the real morality of the situation. If Israel thumbs its noses at a “brother” like the U.S., it’s not time to acquiesce, it’s time to do the right thing — stop the bombing, period, and get the rights of both the Israelis and Palestinians into spaces that are sovereign territories and responsible for their actions toward the other.

The high ground has slipped away for Israel. Big surprise that protesters are predominately pro-Palestinian. Is it pretty? No. Make visible the unconscionable. Resist having our agency to affect change taken from us. Remember all change begins within ourselves. We are the legwork, the progenerates of change.

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Truth, pushed underwater, tries valiantly to reach the surface, assaulted there by a continual barrage of imaginary realities, people distorting common sense, defying logic and actual self-interest, emotional algorithms muddying the waters, dragging the susceptible all into the current. That’s Trump’s forte.

In Ukraine, Russian expansionism invades like chokeweed. Token U.S. arms help has been restored in Ukraine for the moment, and token arms have been withheld from Netanyahu. He’s going to scour out the opposition regardless.

Thomas Friedman in The New York Times decries the confusions among U.S. campus protesters who misjudge the imperative to treat both sides as parties with their own culpabilities for the carnage. Tit for tat puts no one in the right: Hamas and Bibi aren’t about to budge. Well, hundreds of thousand Palestinians are starving! Public outcry along with his advisers finally got to Biden. Gee whiz. Stop the aid blockades at the borders.

The assault on democracy worldwide now includes the Party of Trump, as we’ve seen. Ironically, in mostly ignored Myanmar, I read that the rebels are fighting the military dictatorship for democracy. Here we have House Republicans fighting against democracy, climate change may not exist but does as political theater. Pick a card. One side spews confusion and dines on lies, the other struggles to avoid capsizing.

The post-truth era has left half the population adrift, unable to paddle a course not headed for the spillway.

Back home spring arrives again, soaring temperatures wait in the wings with six months to an election. Will the rest of us be pushed over the edge or will we unite and stop this unconscionable gobbledygook? Six months. A lot can happen. Trump in jail? Maybe. But don’t count on it. Judge Aileen Cannon gets the prize.

George and Mary, my surrogates, returned from visiting their son Brett in Boston. He had been in the Northeastern and MIT demonstrations. “I hate feeling like I’m out of touch, a relic,” George admitted to Mary as they drove past Gardner. “What does Brett think getting arrested will accomplish?”

“He lives in the same realm students did in ’68,” Mary replied. “The whole world seemed to be seething, impatient with war and change happening too slowly. In Paris where I was, there were only transistor radios.”

George looked bemused, “But it’s all about taking a stand, right? Youth has to live with what the adults get wrong. All movements are similar. True, there’s good and not so good happening inside history. The kids just wish we could get it right … for them. They can and will learn from any mistakes they make, but they despise having to correct the mistakes we’ve made and are making.”

Alan Harris lives in Shelburne Falls.