ELDER MUSIC: Together at Home 2

A Sliver of Hope in Terrible Times

Last week, protests erupted in dozens of U.S. cities over the killing in Minneapolis of George Floyd. They have continued for days - buildings have been burned, people injured, several killed and thousands have been arrested. As I write this on Sunday, it continues and has even spread to Europe.

President Trump publicly gloated over the quality protection he received when demonstrators, on Friday night, gathered across the street from the White House. It's worth noting how he said it:

"The front line was replaced with fresh agents, like magic. Big crowd, professionally organized, but nobody came close to breaching the fence. If they had they would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen. That's when people would have been really badly hurt, at least. Many Secret Service agents just waiting for action.”

America is burning. The national shame of dead black men and women at the hands of police over many years has come to a boiling point. (It appears to also be an opportunity for provocateurs with other agendas to join the demonstrations, but that's a story for a different day.)

It cannot be incidental that this explosion of unrest is happening as a global pandemic has kept people in most of world under lockdown in their homes for more than two months.

And the president appears eager to have protesters attacked by “vicious dogs”? But that's the way he rolls. On Thursday, he warned the governor of Minnesota in another tweet,

“Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

And so on. You have undoubtedly seen the wall-to-wall coverage of the protests on television and online.

For people our age, it must immediately bring to mind the summers of the late 1960s and early 1970s: Newark, Detroit, Orangeburg, Dr. Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, Columbia University, Democratic National Convention, Stonewall, Kent State.

And those are only the ones I can recall off the top of my head. There were dozens, if not hundreds more. It is unnerving now to see it happening again.

It seems to me that something is building now toward a level of violence fueled by ignorance, lies, misinformation, stupidity, fear along with justifiable revulsion and frustration at the number of dead black people year after year for whom no one pays a price.

Is it just me, or is there a sense in the air that something more terrible than what we are seeing now is going to happen?

But then this came along - a sliver of hope.

Over the weekend, The Guardian published an essay by Dorian Linskey about W.B. Yeats poem, The Second Coming which was published 100 years ago.

The entire essay is interesting and you would probably enjoy reading it but here is the salient part to my thinking today:

”As the world is wrenched out of joint by the coronavirus pandemic,” writes Linskey, “many people are turning to poetry for wisdom and consolation, but The Second Coming fulfills a different role, as it has done in crisis after crisis, from the Vietnam war to 9/11 to the election of Donald Trump: an opportunity to confront chaos and dread, rather than to escape it...”

If you think you don't know the poem by it's title, just notice all the astonishing number of phrases within it that you have heard and read in reference to many situations throughout your life.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Maybe this helps a little. You can read the full essay here.


Have seen footage of the mourners - swiftly walking out of stores with loads of five-finger-discounted merchandise. Why am i so NOT surprised ;/

Yaayy President Trump, give them snarling do-nuttin'-productive masses heck.

Sometimes it takes violence and destruction of property to obtain the awareness of authority and official action. The only means remaining to those with ignored and desperate issues. Remember the Boston Tea Party?

Sad day in America when a 68 yr old woman has to load and pack to go to the store because our police can no longer protect us. I fully understand the protest, I do not understand the destruction it will not bring Floyd back.

Remember when Gandhi said "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." I believe the whole world is blind right now. When something bad happens, we all line up to support "our side" against the villains on the other side. And now we have a president who, instead of trying to bring us together to talk through our difficulties, eggs on the extremists to answer violence with violence.

I believe that the vast majority of the protesters who showed up to express their outrage at the senseless killing of yet another black man planned to register their feelings peacefully. It was the few among them who triggered the violence, and now they are all being tarred with the same brush. Meanwhile, some of the police who came to keep things under control were themselves unnecessarily violent, which only escalated the situation.

In such a troubled time, we could really use a reasonable and compassionate leader to help us find common ground. Too bad we don't have one.

I feel in total solidarity with the protesters to police violence toward black people. I do not want to see the destruction & looting of so many cities, but I do understand their anger and frustration which has been simmering for a long time. If I were younger, I know I would be marching & carrying a sign too. How can you NOT feel outrage after seeing that video of those cops & what they did to George Floyd (esp the one kneeling on his neck for almost 9 mins). Trump has certainly not helped the situation. On the contrary, he has fanned the flames. I hope that prejudice & discrimination will change for the better in this country. I hope that one day, we will live in a more equitable country.

I remember the fires, l00ting and protesting of 1967 in North Minneapolis and I would have to say things are still not better. The Minneapolis/St. Paul area has been filled with disturbances since last week and the killing of George Floyd. Friday night was the worst. However, on the Sunday morning national news they were showing pictures of Friday night and attributing it to Sat. night. I watched several news venues most of the night on Sat. and the demonstrations were peaceful and things went fairly well. There were arrests but most of them were because of being out after curfew. The media does not help us in these situations. My question is: If peaceful protesting does not bring on change then what will? The "Second Coming" reminds me of a play that I saw probably 55 years ago in Minneapolis entitled "The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui" that paralleled the rise of a cabbage salesman in Chicago to the rise of Hitler. As the play went on they flashed pictures of the rise of Hitler and by the end Arturo ascends a podium and has become Hitler in all but name. The final line of the play is warning us, "the bitch that bore him in in heat again". Our times now, in light of everything that is going on, makes these references even more chilling.

Have always loved “The Second Coming”.

So many times over the course of my life in various situations that one line has come to mind: “the centre cannot hold”.

Poetry like this binds us. Someone else has known just how we feel...

Whoa --- That first comment by Sue! I'm wondering if she's a troll or if not, what draws her to this blog. I consider it a sacrilege to even refer to looters, in jest, as 'mourners'. There's plenty of mourning and grieving going on, and I suspect that the majority of those doing it are not venturing out even to the peaceful marches and protests. As our churches and other gathering places remain closed, many of us prefer to stay quiet, reflect in peace and try to find something to hold on to for hope. I'm sorry to hear from those who assume and speak their cynical worst. This is not the time for it -- indeed, no time is.

Thanks for posting the Yeats poem, gave me chills to read it. Some absolutely timeless lines there. The protests have gone international, it is indeed sad that a few take advantage for their own benefit but doesn’t distract from the message.

Troll! Uhm, that's somebody who happens to have a rather right wing mindset. Blame it on my granddaddy !

Here in Minneapolis and St Paul we are trying to make our way through this. The peaceful demonstrations mourning and demanding justice in the wake of George Floyd's murder (even the governor is calling it that) are massive, and for the most part the police are respectful of them. But yesterday afternoon a tanker truck drove into a crowd of approximately 5,000 demonstrators on a closed-down highway. Miraculously, no one was hurt. Not even the driver, who was taken to the hospital by a helicopter that we saw flying over our house, but released quickly into police custody. Massive numbers of police showed up, the demonstrators got off the highway, with the exception of 2 young men, who were, after a short standoff, arrested. But then from what we could see on the live tv coverage and the interviews with demonstrators afterwards, the police shot tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd.

The violence at night is fueled (literally) by what appear to be mostly right-wing groups, some overtly white supremacist. The police have found caches of what they call "flammables" stashed around the cities, and we have learned to recognize cars that are hiding their license plates. No doubt some local people join in the looting, but I really believe that the small, family-run businesses are not being targeted by the people who use them and know their owners. The arson has produced food deserts and has closed down pharmacies.

I am relieved that the governor refused Trump's offer of federal troops. I would be marching in the daylight demonstrations if it were not for Covid. Hundreds of people are donating food to to families whose local grocery stores have been burned down or boarded up. Hundreds more have come out to help clean up the mess.

I am a 76 year old woman who has seen this play out the same, time after time, year after year and I can"t see the end ever in site. People aren't capable, either color or race, to change. Change isn't comfortable, or easy. It requires "real" and genuine cooperation and courage. We see this same tired scenario happen, but different names driving the frenzy. For the life of me, I can't understand why we can't stop hating one another and why can't we be kind and patient to others? What does it cost? What kind of education do you have to have to be kind? It is the one emotion we all possess equally, but forgot how it works. We should lend our energy and time trying to remember how to be empathetic, friendly, sincere with our comments, making a "I'm sorry, or "Thank you" or just a "how are you" heart felt and not just a routine response. No where does it say if you disagree with me I will burn down your way of feeding your family or try to kill a cop or make my own neighborhood a war zone. Who wins?

I can't begin to tell you how much I appreciate your presentations on topics every week.
You have a unique way of approaching subjects.
You give your view and explain why. You get to the point, but not in the ordinary way.
Like today-- approaching the subject with Yeat' poem. You raise us all up with your thought inspiring words, alway. We answer back with the same respect you give out and you enable us to share and think out loud.

Following you all these years has been a pleasure.
Thank you!!

Thank you Bonita Palmer....
for voicing my thoughts also. Violence is a self seeding weed in my experience. Your words give such a better way for all of us.

And thank you, Ronni, for this thought provoking post. It brought  this to mind. 
When I first heard this country song a few years ago, "That's How Every Empire Falls". The title seemed so out of sync to the usual country song; I search for it. It was 2016!.

It was recorded by John Prine. (Written by a friend of his, RB Morris.) Prine was having health problems at the time, thus his gravely old 'whiskey tenor' was hard to understand on the recording.  I found the lyrics in print as a testament to our then current times. They seem to speak to my own despair over our country then. (2016) And again NOW.  It is several stanzas so I have added just the last one here.   It is easy find online using the title or R.B. Morris's name. It is a worthy message to hear once again. 
That's How every empire falls...RB Morris  (final stanza)

A bitter wind blows through the country
A hard rain falls on the sea
If terror comes without a warning
There must be something we don't see
What fire begets this fire?
Like torches thrown into the straw
If no one asks, then no one answers
That's how every empire falls.

 As I have aged I look for understanding and/or "silver linings" where ever I can.  I so value Time Goes By giving that opportunity. Thanks to all those seeking to help in the best ways.

Bonita, what a great comment! I think a lot of people are thinking variations of "What's wrong with people"? I, too, sense something more dangerous about this situation than in the 1960s. For one thing, we have a malignant toddler "running" the country. For another, we have just about finished wrecking the Earth. I fear the days to come.

Waiting for the Barbarians is another poem that applies to this situation.

Peace to you all.

Mary, I am not particularly religious, but I am so fearful that a supposed intelligent people we are supposed to be, have set up our lives as though we can say and do anything we want without reprisal. We have no formal government, a Pandemic and now have created just one more of a number of horrible killing fields in the name of love and mourning. I say Jesus has given us so many chances to do it right, and like so many other amazing cultures of the past, we have tempted our place in the universe, by juggling all of these things together and ignoring the rights of every man, and seem to be offering our world up to whatever or whoever may destroy it . We are one and all tempting our fate to ignorance and selfishness.

Trump hides in the White House bunker frightened and confused refusing to address the nation during this terrible time of sickness and violence with any words of hope and healing. Indeed the center does not hold.

I think it will be shown that the violence happening (after dark!) is the work of radical (right and left) provocateurs. In my day (I am 77), these were the police and FBI. Not so now. I wish the media would interview representatives of the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ACLU, the FBI. The radical provocateurs are emboldened and encouraged by the current President and his chums. I remind myself that the National Association of Chiefs of Police quite quickly condemned the murder of George Floyd. Let us keep our eye on the prize and strive to be our best versions of ourselves. There are plenty of good people, especially obvious in the followers and author of this blog! When I am reading here, I feel better able to face the day. Thank you, Ronni, for all that you do.

These things seem to happen, over and over as you said Ronni, and in college I remember protesting Viet Nam and the draft and seeing the National Guard on our campus, it was the year of Kent State, what was I doing out there in my sorority jersey, and then on my 30th Birthday we were out to dinner when the McDuffie riots happened in Miami, my husband owned a Board up and Glass replacement business, he was boarding up while looting was still going on,and like other hate filled situations, trying to bend that arc toward a better world as MLK said, we will hope that the protesters and police actually meld into a cohesive unit as is happening in some cities, that gives me the most hope, as well as my kids and how they feel...

I am find many persons to be decent individuals. Something happens, though, when some of them are given authority, especially when they believe others are inferior or dangerous.

Kindness is transformative quality ...and right now, the quality I want to see is accountability applied to those who abuse authority, whether it is the police officer who kills with no cause, the coach who rapes his athletes, or the so-called “ protester” who loots, among others.

I've read and shared yesterday's (5/31/20) wonderful op-ed pieces by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (LA Times), Sally Jenkins (Washington Post), and Nick Bauman (The Atlantic). They helped me to understand the many facets of the racial drama engulfing our country. I also printed them to share with my in-laws, who do not use the Internet. While I don't have any illusions about changing their beliefs, I hope they can see the bigger picture as a result. I urge all of us to get involved in voter registration outreach, because we cannot, and should not, stand by and simply watch.

Watch Trevor Noah and his take on what’s happening..Brilliant..

Another Elizabeth (Kurata) and Nancy Wick have said what I would have, as have several others. Liz K., if your in-laws are Trumpists, they probably can't/WON'T see anything except what their cult leader and his propaganda arm (Faux News) tell them to. I cannot express how much I despise Donald Trump!

Update: The driver of the truck said he didn't mean to hurt anyone; that he got caught on the highway and panicked.

An interesting fact...Last Saturday, thirty-five major US cities suffered excessive violence, looting and destruction, including purposely set fires. All of these cities have democrat mayors.

“It seems to me that something is building now toward a level of violence fueled by ignorance, lies, misinformation, stupidity, fear ...”

I’m counting on there being responsible leaders we’ve supported who genuinely care about the people who will find a way to protect us and our nation from “that something”. Critical for all of us will be the change we must have come Nov. elections which cannot be allowed to be thwarted.

you boomers turned America into a fascist police state and now the younger generation is rising up against YOUR FASCISM. Good luck getting us to pay taxes to support your retirement. I guess you boomer scumbags can go blow your brains out

LOL---Repeating my praise for Ronni from Monday.
"You raise us all up with your thought inspiring words, alway. We answer back with the same respect you give out and you enable us to share and think out loud."

I guess I was a little premature in stating how you raise us all up.

The bogyman used to be "socialist" and now it seems to have changed to "fascist" as supposedly the latest insult coming from the Republican camp. What is that all about?
Who changed the mantra? Does anybody know?

I an effort to exhibit what he believes is leadership by implementing a show of force , Trump is attempting a last dying effort to rally whatever support he has left among the rabid MAGA clan.

My Washing Post subscription showed the most amazing response to protesters in video form - police taking a knee. Very moving! and completely changed the temper of the protesters. I have CNN on (muted) and have not seen that part of the protests. Truly with CNN, " if it bleeds, it leads."

Yes, Thea T, I saw pictures of police taking a knee too, in at least two different cities. That is heartening in the midst of all this anguish.

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