Today, A Moment in Time

I’ve been watching John Lewis’s memorial service. It was very moving. There were also many calls to not let up the struggle. President Obama spoke of “those in power” who are trying to undermine voting rights. And he called for ending the filibuster, which will pretty much ensure that will happen if Dems retake the Senate.

The New York Times published an op ed by John Lewis that he had given them before he died, asking that it be published on the day of his funeral. Among other things, he said,

Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.

You must also study and learn the lessons of history because humanity has been involved in this soul-wrenching, existential struggle for a very long time. People on every continent have stood in your shoes, though decades and centuries before you. The truth does not change, and that is why the answers worked out long ago can help you find solutions to the challenges of our time. Continue to build union between movements stretching across the globe because we must put away our willingness to profit from the exploitation of others.

Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.

When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.

Three presidents were at the service, plus a statement from Jimmy Carter was read. The other living POTUS was neither there nor welcome. The absence was a huge subtext of the day. Trump is so far outside American norms and tradition that he would not be there, could not be there, would have been utterly out of place there.

Meanwhile, the Great Orange Pestilence must be terrifed by his internal polls.

This nation has never delayed a presidential election. Note that we didn’t delay the presidential election during the bleeping Civil War. On election day 1864, General Sherman’s troops were occupying Atlanta, and Sherman was considering marching to Savannah. General Grant was headquartered at City Point, Virginia, while his troops beseiged Petersburg and hacked away at Lee’s supply lines. There were other generals and other troops deployed in several hot spots in several states. Lincoln sincerely believed he could lose, because people were exhausted with the war. But there was no talk of delaying the election.

I understand that, so far, no Republican has seconded the suggestion. Of course Trump does not have the power to delay the election. Congress might, but I don’t see that happening.

And Hermain Cain, who attended Trump’s June 19 Tulsa rally without a mask, is dead of covid-19.

Oh, and the economy suffered its biggest one-quarter drop in 70 years and possibly ever.

The U.S. economy shrank 9.5 percent from April through June, the largest quarterly decline since the government began publishing data 70 years ago, and the latest, sobering reflection of the pandemic’s economic devastation.

The second quarter report on gross domestic product covers some of the economy’s worst weeks in living memory, when commercial activity ground to a halt, millions of Americans lost their jobs and the nation went into lockdown. Yet economists say the data should also serve as a cautionary tale for what is at stake if the recovery slips away, especially as rising coronavirus cases in some states have forced businesses to close once again.

And the Senate can’t get its act together on a relief package.

I keep thinking of the old abolitionist hymn, “Once to Every Man and Nation.” I do feel that we’re poised between a great darkness and a great light right now.

Once to every man and nation,
comes the moment to decide,
in the strife of truth with falsehood,
for the good or evil side;
some great cause, some great decision,
offering each the bloom or blight,
and the choice goes by forever,
‘twixt that darkness and that light.

(The fifth line is usually read as “Some great cause, God’s new messiah,” but some people don’t like that line. The lyrics are taken from a much longer poem by James Russell Lowell called “The Present Crisis.” It’s sung to a Welsh tune, of course.)