Saturday, June 13, 2009

History and Mystery

As a grade-school student studying American history I can still remember a sense of disquiet and bewilderment when I first learned about the Burr-Hamilton duel. I was no stranger to a schoolyard scuffle myself (even back in the day, I had that certain something when I smiled) but the notion that the Founders would settle differences in such a way confounded me. I'd read about the Revolutionary War but this wasn't that and wasn't anything else I'd ever heard of except goofy barbarism.

I know a lot of us have fleeting thoughts of homicide when someone succeeds in getting up our nose or under our skin, or (I guess) under the skin of our nose. And as unkind as such thoughts are, few to none of us would ever act on those impulses.

Not so James von Brunn who, news accounts suggest (and there must always be a presumption of innocence under our system of justice, even when it's wasted on the accused), has deep and abiding issues with a not inconsiderable number of God's Children here on the Big Blue Marble and an all-too familiar approach to conflict resolution.

It's a way of resolving differences that's as old as we are as a species and about as useful as an appendix in anything other than a book. And yet, when the barometer is just so, or the moon is in a phase, or the tides are at flood or a thousand other atmospheric, philosophic and/or metaphysical excuses masquerading as reasons, we cut to the chase and go for the throat.

Sometimes nations kill nations and we call it war. When the insanity is sponsored by governments against their own people (and/or others), we call it genocide. When it's one at a time, we usually call it murder and try to not see larger consequences. The catastrophe Wednesday in Washington D.C . is, in some respects a combination of all the variants, still producing that frighteningly, familiar finale.

And the only thing more tragic than a tradition that is as long as our time on this planet is that it will have a future and a recurring presence. Long after we have returned to everyday, and nearly forgotten Stephen T. Johns, Jimmy Von B will be prattling, posturing and polluting the world with his pellets of racist and paranoid poison that some simpleton, somewhere, will hear as the Inspired Word and the cycle will begin again and forever. Woe to the one who does you wrong.
-bill kenny

PS: And to show how we are all related one to another as much by the air that we breathe as the way we live our lives, today in Norwich's Howard Brown Park, starting at eleven o'clock, is the 20th Annual Juneteenth Festival. I'd like to believe Stephen would enjoy this immensely.

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