Such great hope

Fri, 11/11/2016 - 10:30am

The morning dawned bright after a long dark night, the sky and sea spread with the same rose gold, a vibrant and hopeful color reflected in the flat calm surface of the big pond behind my house, emerged in early November from its cover of summer greenery. I wondered at it for a bit, even thought of going downstairs and finding my camera but I did not want to turn away from it to find it gone when I returned.

It slid away to a morning more sunny than had been forecast and I tried to sleep a bit more, without success. 

It had been a night of sleep come very late only to be interrupted by the chime announcing — in this case nasty — texts flowing in from someone I've not even seen in a long time, but looking for a fight over the national election, successful bullying in the chill dark of early morning, evaporating into what it truly was, the temper tantrum of a small person, in the light of day. 

It was not much of anything, a few childish messages in the night, just one more layer of the borderline abuse to which we have become accustomed, and been told to ignore. It’s a hard call, to take the high road or to call out the coward and risk it getting worse before it goes away, incidents I would leave unmentioned but for the fact they so much sum up the last several months in the lives of so many of the people of this nation, not only women. 

All along I have said I was not seriously worried about the then-candidate, now President-elect, rather the more rabid of his supporters, who would be either angry and out of control or — as seems to be proving true despite the victory — still angry and even more emboldened.

It has not been a full day yet and people are tired, tempers are frayed. Still, as happens after every election, no matter the victor, I am optimistic that somehow the pieces will come together and we will move forward as that one nation we are meant to be. 

But, seriously, what kind of mentality does it take to send a text to someone who has just won a Town Council seat? Yes, the absentees remain out as I write but I have been following local elections since before I could vote and have seen wins maintained through final counting with much narrower margins than I have. (I write hoping I am not jinxing myself). The 3:47 a.m. text said: “Well, now you know how it feels to lose. Get used to it!” which, now that the sun is setting, feels more the threat it did last night than in the bright mid-day.

Tonight, I will turn the sound on my phone down to “alarm only.” 

It was already so dark so early before the dreaded fall back of the clocks that it barely seems worse this week than last, with the final gray draining from the sky as 5 p.m. approaches.

Autumn is outside, barking at some thing, real or imagined, and I wander out, wondering if there is a deer, or another dog barking in the distance, or if it is just another case of her barking at the echo of her own voice, which, yes, my sweet Autumn has been known to do.

The fall has been spent moving from one deadline to the next and somehow we are already moving into the second week of November, and with it one of the few holidays that did not fall to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act — or, more accurately, one which was restored to its historic place, Veterans Day, the old Armistice Day, marking the end of the Great War to End All Wars.

It was one of those dates drilled into me by my mother, the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, a time everyone would remember down through history to its very end. Swords would be beaten into plowshares, spears into pruning hooks and we would learn war no more. We are now only two years short of a century since that auspicious moment in time. 

Even when I was in school that Great War had become one of two World Wars, two times with easy definitions. Korea was then a bit of a mystery, even though the father of one of my classmates and a teacher were veterans of it.

Now, it seems all around us is one great long war with bits of peace breaking the monotony, although I know by measures more precise than “it seems” we live in a time of relative peace. The world has both expanded, from the time Alexander could be said to have conquered it to today's photographs taken from space showing it much larger than he could have imagined, and grown smaller with the speed of transport and communication. 

My generation grew up hearing of the distant horrors of World War II; the reality of Vietnam came to America's living rooms via the six o'clock news. There was simply news, there were no special interest groups narrowing the range of what is presented to the viewer. 

This Friday is Veterans Day, kept on that date set so long ago with such great hope, today widened to include all who served in the Armed Services. It is a time when new crisp flags fly on the grave of veterans in the island cemeteries, and I remember not only those who served but all through the generations like my grandmother, a widow who saw her five sons go to war, and by the grace of God return home, and whose nephew returned to spend his life after war in a Veterans' home, his mind permanently ruined.

A new administration begins in January, and like every other one, regardless of the means, I have to believe it will strive for a legacy of lasting peace.