The observations of a 50 something with lots of experience in politics, government, life and learning.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Inherit the Wind

I only went to see Inherit The Wind up in Bennington because our good friend Rick Driscoll was playing the mayor. Our son had had one line in the play ten or fifteen years ago at the WTF when James Whitmore performed so it was a bit of nostalgia too.

Nostalgia, hell. It made my skin crawl.

There right before my eyes was the US in the year 2005. People "labeling" others because of their religious beliefs, teachers afraid to speak out because of the backlash, well-meaning friends cautioning that there were consequences to being a nonconformist. It was as if 80 years hadn't passed.

The production at Oldcastle Theatre was incredible, so that helped add to the verisimilitude. In fact, we'd probably be better off if Bill Frist and Harry Reid were a bit more like William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow. And although I love Tom Friedman, I'm not sure anyone would compare him to H. L. Mencken.

But the bottom line was I FELT LIKE I WAS WATCHING A CONTEMPORARY PLAY. If I had shut my eyes and not looked at the costumes, you wouldn't have known the difference. Science is suspect, faith is all. Don't think about things, it will just confuse you.

Like Henry Drummond in the play, I am a person of faith. I even participate in organized religion although that often seems more like a penance than a gift. But my goal is always to live my life according to the precepts of my faith -- feed the hungry, house the homeless, clothe the naked, do unto others as you ....Not easy, but not impossible. And I don't wear sackcloth and ashes. I have a reasonable number of material possessions, but do know the difference between "supporting the troops" and driving an SUV with a "support the troops" ribbon on the back.

As a child, there were two pieces of history that I could not believe that my parents had stood around for. Not that they had participated, but they hadn't STOPPED IT. One was the Holocaust and the other was the McCarthy period. In my own life I have seen all of us stand on the sidelines while the innocent suffered. And we have watched the worst sort of character assassination and buffoonery given a pass because "well, it's just politics."

And then people wonder why a decent human being has second thoughts about throwing her hat in the ring.

It is hard to feel like a stranger in your own land. I don't want to live a life where I only travel to blue states. We don't learn from one another without dialogue. But I am at a loss to figure out where the dialogue starts, who starts it and when.


No comments: