Bob Schwartz

Month: June, 2020

Cassandra talks about the pandemic

Cassandra talks about the pandemic

I made a good breakfast
omelet, home baked toast, coffee
but lunch seems too much work
the fresh of a new morning
ground down by news and poor prospects.

Cassandra was cursed by Apollo to be
a prophetess who would not be believed
all because she refused to love him.

If Cassandra came by
I might make lunch for us
not asking about the pandemic
unless she raised it
but even then
could I believe her?

© Bob Schwartz

Quis custodiet ipsos custodies? Tulsa and Watchmen on HBO.

Watchmen, the acclaimed graphic novel, was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 best novels of the 20th century. Many, including me, agree. In fall 2019 it was transformed into an HBO series.

It is a complicated story, an alternative history of contemporary America. It is about the role of police and superheroes in turbulent times. It is about the ways we deal with the “others.” It is about the power we grant to authorities so that we can be (or feel) safe, and from that emerges the question alluded to in the title, the question asked in ancient Rome: Quis custodiet ipsos custodies? Who watches the watchmen?

As with all transitions from page to screen, creative layers were added for TV. The HBO series is set in Tulsa, and begins with a harrowing depiction of the tragic Tulsa race massacre of 1921, an event that is suddenly receiving renewed and deserved attention.

Watch Watchmen, at the very least the opening scene. Read Watchmen, even if you don’t think of yourself as a graphic novel person. You will come away with new perspective, which is what we ask of art.

You do not have a right to not wear a mask or to drive 100mph

You do not have a “constitutional right” to not wear a mask in public if required by your state or local government. You do not have a “constitutional right” to drive 100mph down any road anytime you choose. .

People who don’t like following public safety measures quickly become armchair lawyers, even if, as may be the case, they have absolutely no real knowledge about law or Constitution. What they know is what they want to do, and they use the Constitution as a magic talisman to claim it.

It’s a free country, they say. But you are not free to drive 100mph if it is determined by authorities that the conduct endangers not only you but everyone else you share the road with. And you are not free to refuse to wear a mask in public if it is determined by authorities that the conduct endangers not only you but everyone else you share the public space with.

It really is that simple. If you choose to act like an irresponsible child in private, that is your business. If you choose to act like an irresponsible child in public, that is everybody’s business, and the Constitution won’t support you.

Reason and absurdity

We are no better off relying on absolute reason than we are abandoning to absurdity.

And yet…

Music: Three Little Birds by Bob Marley

Like others, Bob Marley lived a full life even though it was stopped short too soon. He changed the world. And he can change your world right now.

Three Little Birds

Don’t worry about a thing
‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright
Singing don’t worry about a thing
‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright

Rise up this morning
Smiled with the rising sun
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singing sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true
Saying this is my message to you

Unity is a worthy ideal. But as long as we are divided, the question remains which side you are on.

I am a student of religion, a realm as filled with idealism as any, and more than most. Yet along the long evolving paths to the spiritual ideal has come heated and sometimes bitter divisions about how to get there.

In all areas, it is uncomfortable that the ideal of comity and the conflicts coexist. Serious and stubborn differences arise, and with the conflicting certainties of being right, the better angels give ground to barely disguised demons.

In these times, taking sides matters. We wish there was broader middle ground to come together on, and we work for that, but when the powerful make clear it is them against us—against you—we might must resign ourselves for now to division over the big stuff.

That makes me heartsick, as it may you. Every wise word of peace and unity should be tattooed on our souls. But students of religion recognize that the stories of embodied evil are trying to tell us something. Not that people are bad, because we are reminded they and we are only human. But that powerful people can choose sides based on bad principles and actions. And getting along with them, ceding ground to them, may in some cases be a bridge to nowhere good.