Although I usually just post photographs and little blurbs about my travels on this blog I now feel the need to use this blog as an outlet for my current societal frustrations. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter all feed me continuous outrages from this administration but just reacting to a post with a like, a sad or some such reaction feels woefully inadequate. Let’s look back over the past seven months of Donald Trump’s presidency. No, you say, let’s not. And that is where the frustration lies. It’s all just too painful to think about. Hiding and putting one’s head in the sand isn’t going to fix things. What to do, what to do?
Thomas Paine (1737-1809) says in The Crisis:
“Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph…There are cases which cannot be overdone by language, and this is one. There are persons, too, who see not the full extent of the evil which threatens them…”
For me one antidote to the daily Trump deflection news media cycle insanity and hourly reading of the New York Times online has been immersing myself in binge-reading history. I am finding that by reminding myself of what has happened in the past I am able to truly believe that “this too shall pass.” We have seen a lot of this hatred and bigotry before. We have experienced periods where big business and special interests did their best to see that the poor and needy did not receive much needed help. It’s all there in the history books. Why do we ignore what has happened in the past? Why haven’t we learned anything from what has happened in the past?
Currently I am deep in my Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt and Winston Churchill obsessive period. I have read and highly recommend these books:
- No Ordinary Time: Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II by Doris Kearns Goodwin
- FDR by Jean Edward Smith
- Churchill, Roosevelt & Company: Studies in Character and Statecraft by Lewis E. Lehrman
- Eleanor and Franklin by Joseph P. Lash
- Eleanor: The Years Alone by Joseph P. Lash
- Never Surrender: Winston Churchill and Britain’s Decision to Fight Nazi Germany in the Fateful Summer of 1940 by John Kelly
- Eleanor Roosevelt: Transformative First Lady by Maurine H. Beasley
- The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt by Eleanor Roosevelt
- Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship by Jon Meacham
- Nothing to Fear: FDR’s Inner Circle and the Hundred Days That Created Modern America by Adam Cohen
These are just a few of the books I’ve read during my current “Roosevelt period.” By reading these books I have been able to see that there have always been many obstacles to peace and justice but that honorable people do not give up. During the 1930s and 1940s the United States was lucky to have had men and women dedicated to making the world a better place in spite of the hatred and bigotry of their times. Think of the optimism, hard work and diplomacy it took Eleanor Roosevelt in 1948 to ensure the passage of “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights” at the fledgling United Nations. You can hear Eleanor Roosevelt reading the Declaration here. It is very inspiring. I am sure that such men and women exist today in the United States. We must make sure that their voices are heard over all the rancor and stridency today.
Mahatma Gandhi’s words always give me hope:
“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it–always.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
Ok, now to get back to some photography: here’s a photo I took in Venice, Italy last October. Back then Obama was still the President of the United States. And while not a “perfect union” we were at least not an insane disunion.
Afternoon shadows along a canal with gondola, Venice, Italy, Venezia
I fear there will be more from me on this topic in the future…