Friday, October 12, 2007

Questions Held at Bay

“They asked themselves questions they’d long held at bay.” -- seen in Hope’s Edge by Frances Moore Lappe and Anna Lappe

A sequel to the 30-year-old bestseller Diet for a Small Planet, this book takes the reader on a journey to five continents to examine the global food and hunger challenge.

I’m not going to write about that. They did for more than 400 pages and don’t need my input.

But that sentence – read before I even got out of the Opening Note – made me pause.

What questions have I “long held at bay”?

Hmmmmm . . .

Now that I’ve spent some time around some bays, I can see a whole new aspect to the question. While to hold something at bay is to keep it away, the whole “out of sight/out of mind” kind of thing, I can also tell you that bays tend to hold their fog fairly well.

That’s more along the lines of what I’ve been doing with some of my big questions – keeping them in the bay, in the fog, with some parameters but plenty of room to disappear into the great sea of nothingness.

The whole idea of this year-of-not-a-vacation-and-not-9-to-5 is to give some time for the fog to move on and really examine the questions that maybe haunt me more than I know.

One is definitely about the whole God thing. What do I believe, hold dear, claim above all else?

Another question that slithers in on occasion is what am I to do about the plight of human kind? And which exact plight concerns me most – or at least enough to do something about?

Here are a few more … though I don’t know if they are phrased exactly right – keep in mind the fog still lingers:

Do I think love – as in what one person has for another that keeps them together for a lifetime – exists? Is being “in love” simply a Hallmark/Hollywood invention?

What wouldn’t I do for a friend?

When something exists because of “the system” (and here I mean political, familial, social, etc.) what makes me give up before trying to address it?

Last night I had dinner with a man who had come back from Iraq after three years of service there (and 20 years with the Marines before that) and the first thing he did when he landed in the Chicago airport was to get a beer. He hadn’t one in three years. His refreshment was tarnished however when a suited young man spoke loudly to the two women he was with about his views on the war, the military and specifically how Marines were nothing but “killing machines.”

Still attired in his military garb, this man knew the comments were for his benefit and – in his interpretation of the event – walked to the young man and politely asked him to refrain from including him in his earshot since he had seen good men die as the result of this conflict that he didn’t agree with either but was willing to do what he could for the country that had asked him. The young man then told him what exactly he could do to himself. At which point, my new friend suggested that if he didn’t refrain he would tear his head from his shoulders and . . . well, you get the picture.

Our government and in some ways our society is a system practicing the attributes of insanity. We keep doing what we’ve been doing expecting different results. If we didn’t learn from Vietnam that we can’t blame the soldier for the “solutions” prescribed in faraway strategy rooms, then will we ever learn?

And if I care enough, what does one person do to say “enough.” I told my friend that I often felt like a drop of water in a big sea that has little to no affect.

He said, “Take it from someone who knows. When you’re in the desert and you lift your canteen and all that falls is one drop, you’re pretty damn grateful for that drop.”

Here’s a toast to my first efforts at drops to lift the fog . . .

1 comment:

Texas2Tennessee said...

When I read, "a drop of water in a big sea that has little or no affect," a Gershwin tune popped into my head, "They all laughed at Christopher Columbus..."

Fellow sojourner, I raise my coffe cup filled with foglifter blend in your honor.