Thursday, December 19, 2019

What History Demands of Us

In later years, will I wonder why I don't write more about impeachment?  Maybe.  I was struck this morning when the NPR newscaster reminded us that on this day in 1998, Bill Clinton was impeached.

I've listened to a bit of the process, but it bores me for the most part.  After a few speeches, one knows what everyone is going to say.

Last night, my spouse watched something online that had a split screen--one side showed the votes coming in, and one side had a live telecast of Trump at a rally.  I decided I would rather read a book, so that's what I did.

I was able to get up early and work on my apocalyptic novel, which I've been describing as The Handmaid's Tale meets Graham Greene.  This morning as I walked through the windy, rainy darkness, I thought about how long it's been since I've read a Graham Greene novel--since grad school, and that's likely the only Graham Greene novel I've read.  I can't for the life of me remember which one we read:  The Quiet AmericanThe End of the AffairThe Confidential Agent?

Whatever it was, it was a quick read, and much more entertaining, on some levels, than the other books we read, like A Clockwork Orange and some of Iris Murdoch's weightier tomes.  On some other level, Murdoch seemed much more important.

Perhaps I should read a few of the Graham Greene novels again, just to be sure that I'm remembering correctly.  I'm remembering that he depicts a world of moral ambiguity--I wonder if I'm doing that?  So far, I'm not sure.

This novel is one of the only works I've ever written where I didn't already know how it was going to end.  For awhile, I thought I'd keep writing to find out what happened, but then life got in the way.  It's good to get back again.

Let me loop back to impeachment.  I have been impressed with Nancy Pelosi since she became Speaker of the House in a vote that happened almost exactly a year ago.  I wasn't sure that she had the leadership skills needed for this time in the life of our nation, and I'm delighted to have been proven wrong.  I want to believe I would feel this way, even if I felt differently about whether or not Trump has done impeachable things.

Let me be clear--I think that Trump got off easy, that he's committed many other crimes that make impeachment necessary.  The fact that there were only 2 articles of impeachment distresses me a bit, but I do trust that Pelosi knows what she's doing.

Yesterday as I drove to Trader Joe's, I thought about my great grandparents.  I was wondering what it would be like to be in much older age right now.  One can't be confident about the future and the stability of the country, the way one might have, if one had been older in the early 1960's.    I tried to calculate whether or not my great grandparents would have died in the 1930's or early 1940's, a time that seems similar to now, in terms of facing an uncertain world future.  My grandmother's father was still alive when I was little, so maybe I'd have to go back to great great grandparents.  I feel a bit of shock that I can't tell you exactly when my not-too-distant relatives died.

I'm not sure what it is about this week that has triggered ponderings of death and the significance of the historical times we live in and what history demands of us.  I've been thinking about Patti Smith, who outlived so many of the ones she has loved.  Thinking about her made me think about the people in my life who have died, particularly my best friend from high school.

And of course, there is the fact that we are only 6 days away from Christmas, and I feel like I've done nothing--NOTHING--of the things I usually do to enjoy the season.  Sigh.

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