The healing sunshine, the spring air, the blossoms on the cherry and plum trees, the irrepressible green growth surrounding us more and more each day, the appearance of croci, daffodils, tulips and those random little flowers popping up in surprising places - all just fill the heart and soul. I have seldom if ever needed a springtime like I do this year. It’s like rewinding our old German clock and expecting time to continue.
The times have made us all at least amateur philosophers. We can make meaning out of the familiar if always surprising and wondrous springtime. We have a lot more trouble with where and how to seek and make meaning from our current world situation. Philosophically I try to keep the challenge of holding those two realities together - the glory of the (hopefully) dependable repetition of the spring season and the uncertainty of our daily and future lives. I spend time with the glee of my grandchildren, hear medical recovery stories of my friends, read about creative and committed marchers by the thousands in the streets, and celebrate our young families dealing with successful negotiations with new jobs, social commitments and child rearing - among other positive things in life. All’s so good. And then there are nuclear weapons being so carelessly flaunted like playground taunts and seemingly incomprehensible and deeply hurtful federal policies somehow becoming a reality. All’s pretty bad. And our amateur philosopher status, our capacity to be successful meaning seekers and meaning makers, gets maxed out.
Both of these experiences in our lives are equally real. Our conscious lives stumble when our philosophical effort to make sense of life wavers and we have to hold both of these parts of our reality alive. There is the positive sense that springtime and other life renewables are a fulfilling part of our lives., And in a negative sense, we actively cope with the crazy threats as well. It is clearly draining of body, spirit and mind to do so, and I wish it were easier to make sense of it all. I am impressed that most of us are actually coping pretty well as we both resist what is threatening and foster imaginative alternatives that sustain and affirm life.
I have a whole list of these positive activities in my own personal life, in the life of my family members, and the life of my immediate and extended community life, and I expect you have the same. I am involved, for example, in making some serious changes in our criminal justice system, challenging the expansion of the Navy, and engaging in nonviolence training, among other activities. My wife is creating a framework for talking across the cultural and political divides of our community and challenging the use of our state parks by the Navy SEALS. My son and daughter-in-law, both scientists, take their one year old daughter on her first march to support scientific study. My community is involved in preparing to support immigrants and refugees, homelessness, drug use and hunger in creative and imaginative ways. The list goes on.
We are all challenged to go deeper into ourselves and into our commitment to community. We are dusting off the use of the words “common good” and refreshing them with meaning that includes challenges to entitlements, privilege, and individualism. Rephrasing the Michelle Obama statement that “When they go low, we go high” I heard this week the even better statement, “When they go low, we go deep!” Our challenges are ultimately spiritual ones, or, if you prefer, challenges of clarifying and convincing ourselves that our values of nonviolence, compassion, equality and justice really matter, and the search for truth cannot be compromised.
So enjoy this springtime. Breath the sight andscent of all those blossoms deeply into your lungs and blood. Let the sun warm your face and soul. And keep a good, stiff backbone to all that is unjust and untrue. In other words, be fully alive! L’Chaim!