Redemption

We’ve started the process of talking ourselves into getting a different car. Our Forester has around 90,000 miles and is making some of those noises that indicate things are wearing. Not broken yet, but wearing.

Small clunks and clanks, the kind of noises that disappear when you try to show them to the guy in the service department, but sound like the anvil chorus as soon as you drive away.

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We’ve been mostly Subaru people during our lives together, with brief forays into Honda-land and Volkswagen-ness. And the Forester is still doing everything we want it to do, but there are those noises … .

Robin believes we need to go electric, for the planet’s sake. Or, as a compromise, get a hybrid of some sort. Either way, a car that will damage the environment less than the one we are driving. I want a vehicle that will safely and reliably get me from here to there, especially when road conditions are poor, as in storms or snow. Really, we both want the same things, we’ve just ranked them in different orders.

My ranking method is better, of course, since it’s mine. I would like, if possible, to spend the rest of my life without ever again having to walk to the nearest farmhouse to call for help when my car has broken down or is stuck in snow or mud. And Colorado has plenty of both mud and snow to offer. My tolerance for unscheduled trudging across frozen wastelands has diminished over time to … well … nothing at all.

All-electric still seems awkward to me. The cars themselves are generally more costly, and manufacturers get excited when they can brag about a 300 mile range before the lights go out. That means that visiting family members 900 miles away will take at least three charges. Unless you can find fast-charging stations at exactly those intervals, it probably means more stops than three, and perhaps a couple of overnights plugged into a 220 line somewhere in Nebraska.

(Of course, a person could fly when traveling such distances, if there are flights available. And if you don’t mind being ignored, insulted, patronized, strip-searched, and then crammed into the sort of space which requires exchanging microflora with everyone in your row.)

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From The New Yorker

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(John Lewis wrote the following essay, entitled Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation, shortly before he died. It was published today in the Times of New York. Lewis was a giant among ordinary men, when you measure them by integrity and strength of purpose.)

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Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation

While my time here has now come to an end, I want you to know that in the last days and hours of my life you inspired me. You filled me with hope about the next chapter of the great American story when you used your power to make a difference in our society. Millions of people motivated simply by human compassion laid down the burdens of division. Around the country and the world you set aside race, class, age, language and nationality to demand respect for human dignity.

That is why I had to visit Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, though I was admitted to the hospital the following day. I just had to see and feel it for myself that, after many years of silent witness, the truth is still marching on.

Emmett Till was my George Floyd. He was my Rayshard Brooks, Sandra Bland and Breonna Taylor. He was 14 when he was killed, and I was only 15 years old at the time. I will never ever forget the moment when it became so clear that he could easily have been me. In those days, fear constrained us like an imaginary prison, and troubling thoughts of potential brutality committed for no understandable reason were the bars.

Though I was surrounded by two loving parents, plenty of brothers, sisters and cousins, their love could not protect me from the unholy oppression waiting just outside that family circle. Unchecked, unrestrained violence and government-sanctioned terror had the power to turn a simple stroll to the store for some Skittles or an innocent morning jog down a lonesome country road into a nightmare. If we are to survive as one unified nation, we must discover what so readily takes root in our hearts that could rob Mother Emanuel Church in South Carolina of her brightest and best, shoot unwitting concertgoers in Las Vegas and choke to death the hopes and dreams of a gifted violinist like Elijah McClain.

Like so many young people today, I was searching for a way out, or some might say a way in, and then I heard the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on an old radio. He was talking about the philosophy and discipline of nonviolence. He said we are all complicit when we tolerate injustice. He said it is not enough to say it will get better by and by. He said each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out. When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.

Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.

You must also study and learn the lessons of history because humanity has been involved in this soul-wrenching, existential struggle for a very long time. People on every continent have stood in your shoes, though decades and centuries before you. The truth does not change, and that is why the answers worked out long ago can help you find solutions to the challenges of our time. Continue to build union between movements stretching across the globe because we must put away our willingness to profit from the exploitation of others.

Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.

When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.

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Counting Down

I’ve started a mental countdown to election day 2020, which is November 3. We’re hearing from the chattering classes that no matter what happens on that date, the Cluckmeister and his minions will claim fraud, and may not leave the building on the appointed date so that it can be fumigated properly in preparation for the next occupants.

Who knows? Maybe in those contentious days ahead there will emerge a brand new political class of creatures, let’s call them Republicans with Consciences, and that the transition period will go more smoothly than some predictions would have it.

Maybe.

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On our return trip from Denver, we stopped in a remnant of a town called Bailey, at what might best be called The Deliverance Cafe. The cafe itself was unpretentious and homey in a slapdash way, the proprietor couldn’t have been more cheerful, and the waitress was a credit to her corps.

But the other patrons were like citizens from the famous movie about four men taking a canoe down the Cahulawassee River, and the interesting people they met along the way. Our fellow diners would have been among those interesting people.

For instance, the table just behind Robin and I contained two older couples who spent the entire time discussing how many squirrels they had in their yards this year and what was the best way to prepare them as entrees. At one point the taller of the two women, apropos of nothing that was being said, blinked her eyes and burst out with “I don’t trust that Dr. Fauci one little bit,” before she lapsed back into silence and continued toying with her napkin.

Her escort was wearing a brand new cap, exactly as in the photo at right. I wasn’t sure whether the motto was an aspirational one for him personally, in that a shithole was something to be hoped for as an improvement in his life situation, or whether it was an anti-Democrat slogan.

Could have gone either way.

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Let’s see, where would this item fit? Perhaps best in the Nothing Succeeds Like Excess Department.

And yes, I do know better than to idolize power for power’s sake alone, I really do. But this critter is a whole ‘nother thing. It has 1,230 more horsepower than my Subaru Forester, which as everybody knows, is greased lightning. If I’d had this Mustang Mach-E 1400 in 1956, I would have owned the town of West St. Paul, consigned my high school classmates to eating my Mach-E-dust, and been deemed worthy of taking Sondra S. (possessor of 1000 sweaters) to the Prom.

We were quite the shallow bunch in 1956.

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