I’ve been feeling a bit maudlin this past week. It happens every fall. Proust called it the remembrance of things past. I looked up the word maudlin to make sure I was using it correctly, and discovered it could be a person named Tim, a college at Oxford or Cambridge in England, or a town in West Sussex or Cornwell England. Maudlin also means excessively sentimental, although I don’t think of myself as that.
Wistful. nostalgic, how about just plain sad. I finished Fukuyama’s book (citation below in the Goodreads list) and it left me a bit down. It’s only volume one, and I toyed with the idea of reading volume two, but put it off for now. Called a neocon at one point in his career, I find Fukuyama a very unbiased historian, however, his book is alarming. Perhaps I will tackle one of the hundreds of other unread books I own. Perhaps I will close this Pandora’s box.
Fukuyama left me thinking about the three critical aspects of any civilized society: 1/ a strong government; 2/ rule of law; 3/ accountability. I was sad because at present, our political leaders don’t seem to grasp that the people want accountability. No one is above the law, not even the leader.
Fukuyama gave China and Russia as examples of countries with a stong central authority and rule of law, but lacking in accountability. The Middle East is still very tribal, although now they have access to very deadly weapons and many of them seem bent on suicide. England is the closest we have as a model of all three aspects, a strong government, rule of law and accountability. The U.S.? Well you decide.
I began the week watching the newly remastered Ken Burns Civil War series from PBS, but stopped watching the series after the Emancipation Act. What a sad thing slavery was. Although I was born and raised in the South, my parents were Yankees some of whose ancestors fought for the north (the rest were mostly peasants in Europe). I think the Yankees from New England were trouble makers, do gooders, etc., who cared so much about the issue of slavery it led to blood bath. Thus when I heard one professor or another talk about northerners as a group or southerners for that matter, I wanted to barf. Read Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals to get an idea of how divided northeners were at the time of the Civil War.
Sometimes life has been hard, but one thing I have learned is to never think of people in groups. Individuals are mostly okay. Groups have characteristics that exist in theory. For example we often hear the expression “kids today (fill in the blank)” and yet where are these kids? David often comments on how kind some youngster has been, holdong a door open or helping him into his car (he does look frail).
On David’s birthday, we ate lunch at one of our favorite pubs. A big black vehicle parked without a handicap placard sat in the only available reserved space. We complained to Danny the pub owner who helped us into the pub, and he said he had called the county and they had done nothing, and that “someone is parked out there all the time every day.”
We sat in the window seat and watched the space. After the first miscreant drove off, a new car pulled into the space. I waved my hand to the driver and pointed up to the handicapped sign on the wall. The driver flashed a ‘thumbs up’ and got into his car and pulled out. This happened three times. When we left the pub the space was empty. Danny escorted us to our car and said, “I’m going to Home Depot and buy some blue paint and paint a handicap sign on the street. People just don’t see the little sign on the wall. I told David later, this did my heart good. Every one of those drivers was young and when they realized the space was reserved they pulled out. “See, youngsters do follow the law.”
From my DIL. Summer photos, 2015