Wait for the Finale

Preface: I was recently “encouraged” to start blogging again by a not so subtle hint that “I follow your blog. You never post anything.” She didn’t even try to bribe me with popcorn or cotton candy, but I posted anyway. She had better comment. 😉

Alone, I wait in the shadows.
I count the hours ‘till I can sleep.
I dreamed a dream Cosette stood by;
It made her weep to know I’d died.
~ Epilogue, Les Miserables

I made a music mix to keep in my truck. I was in a hurry when I did it, and just threw in a bunch of songs I had enjoyed over the years. It is amazing the journey a collection of music can inspire. As I quickly scanned through the playlist, at first I was shocked as to the despair contained within the lyrics.

Never been in such a place before
or ever felt such strange fear.
Never been just so alone before,
but You know I am here!
~ Shout My Name, On Eagle’s Wing

Then, I started letting the songs play all the way through. The minors changed to majors. The lyrics changed. The despair and depression ended. Instead, these songs ended powerful anthems. Shout My Name ends with a proclamation that “this land” would know his name and the vocalist places his trust in God that it will take place. (It is worth noting that the character’s descendent went on to work for the President of the United States.)

Les Miserables moves from one lonesome man sitting alone to being in the company of those he loved as the torch was passed from one generation to the next. The scene ends with the entire company marches forward singing of a day when they can “live and breathe in freedom in the garden of the Lord” and “walk behind the plough share and put away the sword.” I have decided, in music, as in life, don’t judge it until the finale.

We are the Heirs of that First Revolution

At the dawn of this day, I knew it would be a long one. I had to docent a class that is nowhere near my field (The History and Sociology of the American Woman…). I had to lead a freshman study group (an absolute terror to any graduate assistant). Today was the day that the much debated Student Wellness and Recreation Center finally would come to a vote before the Senate of the Student Government Association. Then, I found out a motorcade was going to be rolling through downtown.

This was no typical motorcade. This was to honor an individual who, though I never met him, would have been offended if you called him sir. “Don’t call me sir; I work for a living,” would have likely been his response. He was the father of three kids, worked for the Bibb County sheriff’s office, and was a staff sergeant in the Army National Guard. He was also killed in action outside Khost, Afghanistan on September 30th by a roadside IED.

The Senate Session, the most important and intense of the year (and quite possibly the most important since I have been involved with GCSU Student Government) paled in comparison to what was happening outside in the street. As the sirens approached in the distance, the business of wellness centers and increased fees didn’t seem quite as important. The senate recessed so its members and observers could join the crowd gathered on the sidewalk to pay their respects as a hero passed by. On any other day, this would have been the most notable event. But this was not any other day.

Later on in the evening, I led a study session for Politics and Society, my school’s freshman American government course which is required of all students. After the session was over, a student came up to me. He was an international student from Iraq. He didn’t know about the motorcade; he’d been studying for the upcoming exam. What he didn’t understand was why students had not participated more in the decision about the wellness center. Out of six thousand students, less than 100 attended the meetings.

He told me how if you had expressed opposition in Iraq, even about something as minor as a student fee, you were risking your life. He told me of family members who had lost their lives. He told me of the betrayal of friends who had join the insurgency. Then, he talked to me about how much he loved being in this country. He spoke of how he couldn’t understand how Americans did not take advantage of the freedoms to which they had become accustomed and apathetic. He understood how valuable and precious the freedoms are that are largely ignored by people who have lived under those freedoms their entire lives.

In spite of the snide comments of some of the scumbags in the crowd, who didn’t understand why we were honoring someone who killed for a living, the mass of people who lined the streets understood a fact so profound that many can no longer comprehend it. SSgt French understood it. A young international student understood it. Freedom is precious. Bringing freedom to the far corners of the world “forgotten by all but the war lords” is worth sacrifice. America, even with all of its problems, is still the greatest nation in the world. “People want a better life, and they want it here.” But, what about freedom everywhere? Why can’t that be our goal?

Yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe—the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God. We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans—born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage—and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.
~ President John Kennedy

Monday Morning Commute

This morning on the way into work, something happened to me that I sincerely hate. I found myself stuck behind a school bus. Those of you who know where I live, and know where I work understand this. There are only two places where my little truck can workup the momentum to pass even a slow moving yellow monster. And this morning, there were oncoming cars in both of those locations. I was stuck for the long haul.

So, as I was driving (crawling) along at about five miles per hour, I began to notice some things. Most of the stops found not only the children waiting, but also a parent there to see the child off for the day. One poor kid was seen off by his father. Not generally a problem, except that dear old dad was clad only in boxer shorts. I felt sorry for the kid until we got to the next house.

The scene was fairly typical of all the other stops the bus had made that morning. The brake lights lit up, then the driver hit the amber wig-wags. Once again, the line of ten cars slowed and came to a stop as amber turned to red and the stop sign came out. But this stop was different. No father stood by the side of the road to see off his children. No mother was waiting to wave bye as the bus disappeared over the hill and into the early morning fog. Instead, it was just a lone teenage girl, struggling not only under the weight of an overloaded book bag, but also with the weight of a diaper bag and her young baby.

I’m assuming Wilkinson County has some sort of child care program for such situations. That’s the only reason I could figure that she would be taking an infant on the bus with her. And honestly, at first I was disgusted. Then I realized that regardless of the circumstances surrounding the conception, at least she hadn’t killed the baby. That would have been the easy way out. She hadn’t dropped out of school and thrown her dependence on the state for her wellbeing. No, she had gotten up at the required time, and had both of them ready for that (annoying) bus when it rolled to a stop at their driveway. Suddenly, I realized that she was trying to be a better parent that what she’d had.

Eventually the bus turned off the highway and took its load to Irwinton and the waiting schools and teachers. The caravan of vehicles who was sitting behind the bus accelerated as one mind and headed on into Milledgeville. As the cars behind me peeled off to hit the shortcut to the bypass, and then more cars left our little motorcade as we rolled through Central State, and then finally we rolled into downtown, my feelings went out for that girl who was faced with a responsibility far beyond her years. Sure, she was given that responsibility because of her own actions but she will have to deal with it for the rest of her life.

A Battle Hymn

Forth to the battle rides our King; He climbs His conquering car;
He fits His arrows to the string, and hurls His bolts afar.
Convictions pierce the stoutest hearts, they smart, they bleed, they die; Slain by Immanuel’s well-aimed darts, in helpless heaps they lie.

Behold, He bares His two-edged sword, and deals almighty blows; His all-revealing, killing Word ’twixt joints and marrow goes. Who can resist Him in the fight? He cuts through coats of mail. Before the terror of His might the hearts of rebels fail.

Anon, arrayed in robes of grace, he rides the trampled plain,
With pity beaming in His face, and mercy in His train.
Mighty to save He now appears, mighty to raise the dead,
Mighty to staunch the bleeding wound, and lift the fallen head.
Victor alike in love and arms, myriads around Him bend;
Each captive owns His matchless charms, each foe becomes His friend. They crown Him on the battle-field, they press to kiss His feet; Their hands, their hearts, their all they yield: His conquest is complete. None love Him more than those He slew; His love their hate has slain; Henceforth their souls are all on fire to spread His gentle reign.

Charles H. Spurgeon

Knowledge vs. Ignorance

The reason why I can’t really get into, but a question has been cycling through my mind in recent days. Is it better to know what’s going on, behind the curtain so to speak, or to remain blissfully oblivious? My education teaches me that there is an underlying order to everything, and that order can be known an understood. But, the question remains if that order SHOULD be understood (or known, if you will).

The fusion and fission of an atom is what provides us with light and warmth. But that same process, when known and understood was converted into the most powerful weapon of destruction ever known. Birds have been flying since the dawn of creation. Humans captured that power and now have a delivery system both for themselves, humanitarian aid, and yes, those same atomic and nuclear weapons.

So, the question remains. Would life be better if there was some information we didn’t know. Is the world any better off now that we know how to destroy it? Would information that could destroy a family be better left unsaid?

My entire life, people have told me things. Most of the time, there is something so unmentionable, something they can’t bring themselves to say. This one will tell me one side. Another individual will tell me the other side. All too often, I just wish I had a flash gun that would let me erase memories like something out of Men in Black.

Other times, my gut (no, I’m not Gibbs, not even close) tells me things. My mind just puts weird things together in a quite odd manner. It’s weird; while I don’t “know” something, it just doesn’t surprise me when I find out, often months later.

The problem is when I find out something I’m not supposed to know. Every now and then, one piece falls in place that enables me to put the puzzle together before anyone wants me to know the full picture. I’m not supposed to know what I know, so I can’t talk to any one about it.

This is what bothers me. I can’t do anything with the information. I’ve spent the last five years being pounded with the fact that all information is to be desired and to always work for more and MORE information. But I can’t help but think that there are some things I would just rather not know.

Ok, theory friends of mine. Eat your heart out. Help your empiricist buddy sort through this one. Is knowledge always preferable to ignorance? Or is one of the assumptions of the Western Analytical Tradition false?