Is it just me, or do the alizarin crimson of the burning bush’s leaves, the yellow greenish leaves of the Rose of Sharon, the deep burgundy of the Japanese maple, seem more vibrant in these last days of foliage before we are inundated by their hosts’ complete abandonment?
Perhaps it is the collective sigh of relief heard echoed in the world by the US elections, that two adults who understand the committed diligence that comes with real leadership have finally emerged at a critical moment.
The Jewish notions of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) and refuah shliemah (a complete healing) coincide in this critical time both for the United States and for us as individuals. It is a difficult course, but as Martin Luther King advised us that the moral arc of the universe, even though long, “bends toward justice,” there is resonance in this truth at the core of doing the positive.
I write this on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, when 82 years ago hundreds of Jews were killed or committed suicide, 30,000 men were arrested, over 1,000 synagogues burnt, over 7,000 Jewish businesses destroyed or damaged. The event stands as a historical call for involvement/vigilance. Eighty-two years later, hate thrives openly, requiring existential reexamination.
As Roger Cohen so aptly said in his New York Times opinion piece “The People Vs. Donald Trump”: “Democracy is messy but stubborn...but above all, it has been a beautiful testament to the power of each, single ballot in the world’s oldest democracy.”
I am proud to be one of those who gathered in 2017 to commit to standing up against the 45th president for 168 weekends in a row because 2016’s election became an existential crisis.
In these resulting isolating times, any excuse for leaving my studio to find camaraderie and purpose is deeply rooted in small gatherings. I carry this legacy from my beacons of guidance: my late grandmother, who endured Nixon’s enemies list; my mother, who tirelessly continues to fight for fair elections in Philadelphia for half a century; my brother, whose book, “The Truth About Where You Live,” evidenced environmental racism; to a local hero Joyce Johnson, who for more than 30 years stood out for Peace over War.
I honor them and those who drove by beeping their horns in support—a heartfelt thank you to those who weekly flipped us the bird, yelled profanities at us, threatened us with snowplows and covered us with snow, debris and frozen water. We await your grace as you too heal.
Acts of healing, whether acknowledging that science should lead medical responses to disease or recognizing stewardship of our environment under siege by economically driven demands, seeing an inequitable education system fail, disregard for the frailty/hunger of children, I inevitably return to the visual touchstone of Bill Anders’s photo of our Earth from aboard the Apollo 8. This image is evidence that we still belong to one planet, that we have a responsibility to it and to each other.