Late Night Thoughts, Meaning

Looking to the Dawn

The air is cool enough to be civilized at this time in the morning.  I am waiting for the dawn, but I like this time with myself when the whole city is quiet.  Even the dogs are asleep.

Lately, I’ve been sketching.  The sketches are hand and wrist loosening exercises.  At 52, my hands are no longer as steady as they once were.  So I need to exercise them a bit after a long time away from the drawing papers before I can trust them to do what I want them to do.  When they are ready, I plan to do some figure drawings and maybe a portrait or two.   At this hour, fresh from sleep, I can believe I might even produce hangable art, given some work.  I’m most optimistic right after waking up.

I’ve been thinking these days that my optimism comes from little things.  Things like getting enough rest.  Eating well.  Pleasant mornings.

It comes from little things and it’s about little things.  Things like drawings.  Giving up tobacco.  Quietly improving my life a bit.  About those little things, I’m optimistic.  But somewhere along the road I seem to have lost much of my optimism about the big things.  I’m not so optimistic these days about the human prospect.

It seems the big things — growing fascism, global warming, environment degradation, nuclear proliferation, unnecessary wars, terrorism, and so forth — have beaten down what optimism I once had for our very clever — but often all too stupid — species.   I look at kids these days and wonder what kind of world they will see, and I cannot — cannot any longer believe — they will have it as well as my generation did.

What do you do if that’s what you believe?  For instance,  I think there’s clear evidence that fascism is on the rise in America.  But if that’s what you believe, then how do you keep that belief from destroying your spirit?  While it’s true that fascism must be opposed, that we have no real choice but to oppose it, you cannot count on any victories against it to keep your spirits up — there may be too few victories for that.

I suppose if I thought too much about it I would despair.  Fortunately, that’s not something I need think too much about this morning.  The dawn will be here soon.  I am looking forward to the dawn.

4 thoughts on “Looking to the Dawn”

  1. I think the human prospect is fine. I even thing that the future of the United States is bright. I believe, however, that there will be a good deal of collective pain to be endured before most people are shorn of their traditional beliefs and brought into the modern world.

    There are simply some belief systems which Do Not Work, which keep people stuck in a way of looking at the world keeping themselves uneducated about it, caring about issues which do not matter as much as other issues. This has happened as much IMO because of the impowerment of the individual as anything else. We have a system where individuals govern, but they are not educated enough nor involved enough to do it well. Congress is our collective fault. The President is our collective fault.

    You cannot run a country by merely pursuing the most popular or even pursuing the least unpopular. That works for the short term. Climate change will happen, and hundreds of thousands in the United States will die. It is sad, unfortunate, unnecessary, avoidable. But it happens because these individuals — and by extension Western Europe — want to have the choice of their own futures, and choose short term convenience and apparent economic vitality over the long term, such as rejecting out of hand the half a buck or a buck tax on gasoline that would help a lot towards moving us on the proper track.

    As for fascism, yes, it lurks, in some dark corners. But, I think, you and I may disagree as to what constitutes “fascism”. I see it being increasingly perceived as a threat to centers of democracy and power, and the means for containing it developed. I see it more of a threat if untrammelled individual empowerment is allowed to continue. We are too interconnected, too interdependent for that. We need to reembrace the Commons. IMO, it doesn’t matter if you are speaking of freedom to own any gun you want, without registration or qualification, or freedom to do anything on the Internet, or freedom to own and use, without cost, any vehicle of any size, or consume as much as you want.

    Is China fascist? If it is, the trouble is that *their* system appears it may have a chance of navigating these perils. We are failing to do so.

    Still, as long as science and ideas are not marginalized and curtailed, as long as some fascist system doesn’t come along which suppresses the best, the brightest, learning, and discovery, believing that the only kind of science and engineering that’s good is the useful, we’ll be okay.


  2. Hi!

    Enjoyable as always. Funny but in one of those coincidences your post coincides with 2 poems I read today:-
    Ace grew a beard, cut it, grew it, cut it again.
    His attitudes to beards wavered
    like his faith in men

    and also…

    Ace strolled by the Liffey.
    A seagull shat on his head.
    Janey Mary’s laughter poured over him too.
    ‘Ah you’re covered in good luck,’ she said.

    Faith in men and comes and goes. Speaking for myself – I think despair is over-rated and have decided to bet all on optimism. Sometimes when I think I’ve been shat on it turns out to have been great good-luck. Janey Mary and the laughing Buddhas have it right. The difference between shat-on and great good luck is laughter. It’s the seagull’s misfortune that the joke is beneath them.


  3. Over the years we have made the world much as we wished it to be and we are collectively responsible for the state it is in. Given a chance and if we are sensible enough not to get too much in their way our kids will do the same, perhaps with other tools, other means and somewhat different values…but it will be THEIR world and they will be, just as we are, responsible for it.
    I have witnessed the worst and the best of our young ones and the best far outnumber the worst. I have more than hope in them, I have faith in them…but I may be just delusional a wee bit? No! They will do the best they can, I’m sure.


  4. I friend of mine told me a short parable years ago. I still remember it; perhaps because it was so poignant, perhaps because it was so short….
    A man was out in the field pruning grapes. His neighbor came down the hill frantic. “Have you heard the end of the world is coming soon?”
    “Yes”, he replied. “Well what are you going to do?”
    “Till then, I’m going to just continue to prune my grapes”

    I love that story. Run it through my head every time I watch the news.

    And one more thing–concerning Kids Now-a-days–I think I may have made a mistake with our two kids. I was taught to stay in touch with current events–Vietnam, impeachment, Cold War etc.
    That wonderful thinking didn’t apply so much with the following generation. Gave them too much dispair too much cynicism
    for teens and early twenty-somethings I’m not seeing as much hope as I would like.

    Well, back to pruning the grapes


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