Thursday, November 15, 2012

Dreaming of a more enlightened future

My daughter has been working to refinish a boat in one of Seattle's marinas, learning firsthand about some of the drawbacks of manual labor. (I know at least part of the reason she came home last night was to get a really good backrub!)

I went to visit her the other day, and as we walked down the dock this baby seal swam by and pulled up to rest on the rocks at the water's edge.  It's late in the season to see a seal this young, but then we had a late-blooming summer this year, and a spectacularly warm and beautiful fall, so I guess we shouldn't be surprised.

I'd like to think these little aberrations are not about climate change and global warming -- living at sea level as we do, that poses a rather significant threat.  But after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina -- and now, of Superstorm Sandy -- I don't believe we can continue to ignore the problem.

Which for some reason makes me think of The Help, which I finally got around to watching last night.  It was difficult to sit through it at some level -- just as I find it difficult to watch Mad Men: the discrimination -- against African-Americans in the one, and against women in the other -- hits a little too close to home.  I was born in Virginia, and though we moved to Cincinnati when I was 7, we still went back every year to visit my grandmother -- and I still remember feeling shocked about the way my mother and her mother talked about "the coloreds" when I was old enough to understand what I was observing.

It's astonishing, when I think about it, to realize how much attitudes toward minorities and women have shifted over my lifetime.  And so I cannot help but think that there could be similar shifts over my children's lifetime, that assumptions we take for granted now could seem equally horrific to them when they reach my age.  I'd like to think those assumptions would have something to do with pollution and its effect on the environment, with spirituality, with a more compassionate awareness of the connectedness of all beings.  But people have been hoping those things for a long time; could now really be a tipping point in that direction?

I don't know.  But I can dream...

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