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Monday, January 10, 2011

Right and wrong

I found myself doing something atypical for a Saturday night - watching the news. I also found myself wondering about what's happening in our world, in our country, on the corner. I thought about that William Butler Yeats poem that I had to read back in high school, "The Second Coming." The poem was published at the close of World War I, and its striking, graphic and violent apocalyptic imagery grips most readers who encounter it. Yeats' intention in writing this poem was not to provide a sense of peace and an "all is well" calm. There is a chaos, a twitchiness in this poem that borders on hopelessness at the state a world that can no longer be navigated by reason as it explodes into violence. In this realm, "the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity."

We saw the "worst" in a supermarket parking lot in Tuscon, Arizona on Saturday, and by tomorrow morning, odds are that someone else will experience the "worst" in an unalterable way. For Yeats, there is no comfort, and there is no way to make sense of it all. How do you reason with a madman with a gun who is convinced of the rightness of his cause?  How do you agree to disagree when to disagree carries the threat of violence and death?

I'm just saying.

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