Saturday, July 28, 2007

American Idyll

This was a perfect evening.

After a pleasant afternoon playing at an arcade near Weirs Beach, we picked up a picnic dinner at the local dairy bar, then drove to Cate Park in Wolfeboro to hear Lance MacLean and the Moose Mountain Jazz Band give a a concert of dixieland music. The temperature was in the 70's, with a cool breeze blowing off the water, where a few boats were docked just in front of the bandstand. We strolled down the docks or lay on our colorful picnic mat just taking it all in. The ice cream shop down the little boardwalk was open for business - what summer night spent listening to a dixieland band would be complete without it? My kids danced happily without a hint of self-consciousness, which was delightful. The whole event gave me that cozy, small-town America, Norman-Rockwell-type of feeling. We were together and content, with good music to listen, good food to eat, and a beautiful view in front of us.

We take these freedoms and luxuries for granted so easily...yet what else can we say and do, but try our best to remember and express gratitude, and strive to share our blessings with others?

I have seen so much rhetoric in response to this world's "savage inequalities," to borrow Jonathan Kozol's phrase, claiming them as proof of God's absence, because a loving God "wouldn't allow" such injustice. I find this line of thinking weak and erroneous (not that theist rhetoric isn't full of weakness and error - it can be, too). I think people should stop blaming God for the world's problems and ask themselves what they have done to combat injustice.

I know that I for one have not done enough; as a good and wise man once said, the spirit is willing, but weakness hinders action. In my case those weaknesses are like the cumbersome lead aprons I wear whenever the x-ray guy enters the room to take an x-ray. They weigh me down, they're easy to hide behind, and I often keep the protection on when the need for it has passed, for no real reason.

When I kiss my children good-night a second time, after they've already fallen asleep in their beds, I think of these things, the joys and the challenges, and wonder how I can hope to teach them what's right, when I fall so far short of the ideals.

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