Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Living in Exhilarating Times

2020 will go down in history as a pivotal time in American history, along with 1968, 1929, 1860, and 1776. The year has already seen a presidential impeachment, the coronavirus pandemic, economic collapse, and widespread demands for racial justice. All that in just the first half of the year. Still to come is a presidential election that will determine whether our nation survives as a democratic republic. We are witnessing history.

With all the bad news, you would think this would be a depressing time. Paradoxically, unless you or a person close to you was a victim, these are exhilarating times. Winston Churchill once said, "Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result."

Virginia Hefferman, in Wired magazine, puts it into perspective by looking back at another pivotal year in world history: 1789. In one of history's strange confluences, William Wordsworth, the great Romantic poet of English literature, was drawn to Paris during the French Revolution.
William Wordsworth wrote of the French Revolution:
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, and to be young was very heaven.
Wordsworth and his brothers-in-arms at the Bastille found that their bliss faded when the fighting subsided and the revolution's ideology had to be put into practice, which drained its poetry. Revolutions never come near to meeting expectations. Their gains get reversed, reactionaries reassert themselves, mafias and dictators exploit the disarray. And of course revolutions have casualties — sometimes in unbearable numbers. But Leon Trotsky's observation that revolution is the locomotive of history still seems about right. At the very least, we would do well to notice that we're in the middle of one.
So, folks, wake up and notice. Despite the horrible news that greets us each dawn, despite the risk to personal health and national liberty, or rather because of these, these are exhilarating times. Struggle to make something good come out of the bad.

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