Pine Nuts: This contentious age

McAvoy Layne
Pine Nuts

When bad things happen and good people don’t respond, worse things happen, and that’s just the way of it.

Today, while good people sit on their hands, hate crimes continue to drive the numbers of dead and wounded to formerly unimaginable heights.

We know we need stronger laws against cesspool websites that fester vulnerable minds and foster mass killings, but we won’t get those stronger laws until we get stronger lawmakers. If we do nothing else this coming year, we must get out and vote. We can cast sunlight on dark websites, dark money and dark conspiracies by voting for candidates who cast not an aurora borealis, but something more like an opening night spotlight on Broadway, and focus that spotlight on hothouse social media sites where words are weaponized.

Dearly loved and much lamented Nobel laureate Toni Morrison cautioned us that oppressive language doesn’t just represent violence, it is violence. Overlooking hate only empowers hate. 2020 is a watershed year. Let us vote myopic politicians out of office and replace them with statesmen who hold a human heart in their breasts and can see past the day after tomorrow.

If we do nothing else this coming year, we must get out and vote.

And too, as a culture, we need to lighten up a little, listen to more music to wash away animosities and enmities, commit ourselves to acts of benevolence, and resolve to be more cheerful, helpful and kind.

Introspectively, I have to ask myself, “Have you shown any signs at all today of cultural alacrity or altruistic sensitivity? Because if you haven’t, you better start now.”

I had the honor of sharing lunch on a lawn in Honolulu once with a person of the highest moral character, Boston activist Daniel Berrigan, and I asked him to write out something he had said, so I might keep it in a place where I could see it …

“The ecstasy of the flesh can be equaled by the mature man embracing the world.”

Well, that has been a difficult challenge for me to live up to, but I knew even away back then, that it was something to which I needed to aspire.

That was 1972. I have kept Daniel’s words where I could see them ever since, and I believe they ring true for America today. We must embrace not just those who look like us and think like us, but embrace the world. Haven’t we seen this overarching truth written somewhere, “And God hath made of one blood all nations of men.”

Once we effectively tap down hatred, drawdown weapons of mass destruction, and put a lid on climate crisis, well, we might just make it out of here alive, but our insouciance could be our undoing.

I’ll leave the last word to Mark Twain …

“Diligently train your ideals upward and still upward, toward a summit where you will find your chiefest pleasure in conduct, which while contenting you, will be sure to confer benefits upon your neighbor and the community.”

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