In darkness light

by Lorin Michel Saturday, March 4, 2017 7:08 PM

I took Riley for a long walk this morning as is our custom on a Saturday when the world is lazier and not so demanding of my time. It was 8 o’clock and there was still a layer of cool under the sun. It would be gone by the time we returned. As he trotted along, I let my mind go blank as I often do on these walks. It’s an opportunity to just be, be with the dog, be with the desert, be with the day. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have worn black, but by the time I realized that, it was too late. The day warmed faster than I anticipated. Riley was panting, and we stopped for some water. Just beyond the front gate, about a mile and a quarter from the house, we encountered one of our neighbors. She was just returning from a walk. Evidently she’d gone with her husband but she only got so far and then she was done so she turned around while he kept going. 

Riley seemed grateful for the pause. He laid down on the pavement to pant in relative silence while Alexis and I chatted for a bit. She looked great considering she was out exercising. Cute short leggings and a lace t-shirt. The women in my small neighborhood always look good, never leaving the house without makeup, never looking too schlubby. Except for me. I’ve come to terms with it; I’m fine was long as I’m comfortable. 

She and her husband are thinking about moving to Scottsdale. She’ll be cleaning out closets today. Somehow we started chatting about working outside, that I’d left Kevin working in the rocks around the house, how he’s never happier than when he’s playing in the dirt. Her husband is the same. She said one of the things he is absolutely obsessed with is cutting the grass. They have a tiny piece of grass but he’s committed to it. Soon enough, Mike, her husband, came back. Somewhere along the way his walk had turned to a jog. We said our goodbyes and have a nice days and Riley and I continued on while they went through the gate. 

When we came back, I could hear the lawnmower and I smiled. 

 

For once this morning, I didn’t check the news or my email before I left on my walk. It was freeing. I’ve become numb to the daily torrent of news and conspiracies. It’s infuriating and nauseating and sad. SAD! I think the country is becoming numb, too. It’s not that we’re not outraged. It’s that the outrage has become normal. I wonder if this is how the virulent right felt about Obama for eight years. I wonder how they were able to sustain their fury. My fury hasn’t subsided. It has just become part of me, the new normal. It’s no way to live but here we are. 

I was of course treated to the latest tweet storm as soon as I turned on my computer. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so dangerous. 

When will we awaken from this nightmare?

 

In the pre-Watergate era, a judge by the name of Damon J. Keith of the US Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled that governments couldn’t wiretap individuals without a warrant. In his decision, Keith wrote, among other things, that “democracy dies in the dark.” Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, one of the reporters who “followed the money” in the Watergate case along with his partner Carl Bernstein, has used a similar phrase in several of his books including one of the most recent “The Last of the President’s Men.” That phrase – Democracy Dies in Darkness – now appears under the masthead of the Washington Post. 

According to Woodward it’s “about the dangers of secrecy in government;” about institutions shining a light into a darkness that could otherwise consume us. Retired Supreme Court Justice David Souter said in 2012: “That is the way democracy dies. And if something is not done to improve the level of civic knowledge, that is what you should worry about at night.”

Something to think about.

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