Still Subtle and Various and Human… —by Jinny Batterson
The year 2016 has provided quite a roller coaster ride, especially in U.S. politics. Now that the year is nearly done, I’m trying to be more philosophical about this year’s largely negative political campaigns and their outcomes. While trying to avoid stereotyping anyone as a typical voter in any contest, I did pay attention to one exit polling result: the lopsidedly large majority of those who cast their vote for president as a way of fostering change.
What gives me some hope for positive change is that recent conversations I’ve been having with family, friends and acquaintances of various political persuasions have been getting deeper without getting rancorous. My sample size is small. However, among those with whom I’ve gingerly broached the subject of American politics, what stands out are the variations in both motivations and reactions. I’ve not found consensus. Nevertheless, the opinions I’ve heard are more subtle and more nuanced than much of what I read and hear in the media, neither entirely elated nor entirely despairing, but somewhere in between.
Though in theory I’m now part of the older, wiser generation, I find myself wishing that my parents’ “greatest generation” were still around in large enough numbers to impart wisdom and to exert more influence on our media mix. The views of some live on in their writings. I like some of the lesser-known volumes authored by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Though her early life was sheltered and privileged, she came to maturity as global politics darkened during the 1930’s. After the kidnapping and murder of their eldest child in New Jersey in 1932, she and her aviator husband Charles Lindbergh for several years sought solace and privacy in England By 1939, Anne was back in the U.S., tending a growing household while struggling with her husband’s strong isolationist opinions, viewing events in Europe with increasing alarm. Parts of her journals from the period were published much later, in 1980, as War Without and Within. I found the lead-in to her entry for September 2, 1939 especially compelling:
“The Germans are steaming ahead into Poland; all negotiations are off. Even the news becomes not diplomatic but military, not subtle and various and human but clear and cold and metallic.”
Tomorrow we’ll start 2017 with a fair number of possible problems and threats on our horizons. We will also have various experiences, opinions, and expertise with which to cope with them. Some choices will seem stark; others may be difficult. Still, we have the capacity in coping with lots of our issues to recall that we as Americans, and as citizens of the world, can be subtle and various and human, if only we choose to do so.