When the Pond drives up and the Echo stops


Classical Greek mythology held a deep wisdom familiar to the framers of the U.S. Constitution. They were well-schooled in the Greek and Roman classics.

In the Greek myth of Narcissus, two things keep Narcissus alive: the unruffled water of the pond that reflects back his self-image, and the voice of Echo, the beautiful wood nymph whose voice the gods have silenced, except to echo Narcissus’s speech.

Narcissus dies of thirst. He refuses to drink because to do so would mean disturbing  the pond’s reflection on which his sense of self depends. The pond and Echo are enduring metaphors of a deeper wisdom.

What happens to a president when the pond (the electorate) is disturbed or dries up and the voice from across the pond (the press) no longer echoes his words? Or, to the contrary, what happens to the pond and Echo when they placidly yield to the needs and voice of Narcissus?

Yesterday the President and his Press Secretary acted to shrink the pond and silence Echo by including Breitbart News and other alt-right media and by excluding the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and CNN from the informal “gaggle” White House Press Conference. They took another step toward shrinking and smoothing out Narcissus’s pond, and muting Echo’s own voice.

“No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions.” – Thomas Jefferson.


  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, Feb. 25, 2017.


20 thoughts on “When the Pond drives up and the Echo stops

  1. I think people are exhausted. It’s not hard to understand. There’s a lot going on, but you can’t be hysterical and panicky ALL the time. Some of us are simply too old to do that. We wouldn’t survive long … and in the end, we do need to keep living. It’s hard to find the place to be. But this is going to be a LONG siege. It’s only February 2017. We can’t live every day as if it is the last one. At least I can’t.


    • Marilyn, yes. We ARE exhausted. Our stomachs ache. Our heads hurt. Our hearts burst. Our brains are overworked trying to make sense of what is senseless. We need space. We need quiet. We need time. We need beauty. We need the arts. We need space to pray, think, ponder, imagine, and hope. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank YOU. If we don’t take that break, if we don’t give ourselves time to breathe, to feel, to love, we will NOT survive this. I know that I would not. There’s a belief that somehow, this is going to all be over soon. It won’t be. We’ve got years in front of us and there’s going to be plenty of pain to go around.


        • Marilyn, I just wrote a post after reading Jenna Johnson’s article in this morning’s Washington Post. What struck me while reading her article is that there is an underlying disgust that ties some of the Trump voters to those of us who are now trying to survive his election. One of the Iowan voters voted for Trump not because of affection for Trump as because he is disgusted with lobbyists and both political parties.

          As a Sanders supporter, I believed, and still do, that Bernie Sanders would have beaten Donald Trump because he, like Trump, was and outsider who challenged Wall Street, lobbyists, big money in political campaigns, and stood up for the American working class in a way that would have shown his billionaire opponent to be a phony.

          So, now, it seems to me, we do two things rhythmically: “give ourselves time to breathe, to feel, to love” and, out of those deep-breath moments, allow a deeper Wisdom to guide us in the struggle to live faithfully in resistance to the evils we deplore.

          Anyway, as they say, “I feel ya!” I’m there too.


          • I also really believe that our time to beat back the bad guys is ending. We can talk and write and urge others on, but we’ve had our day. Days. Years. Decades. Now, my son, his daughter — the younger generations have to make this THEIR battle. They brought this in, they will have to take it out. They don’t really listen to us anyway, you know. They should, but they don’t.

            When we were young, we hit the dirt running. Now, though maybe we ponder it, it isn’t happening. They will need to make this THEIR time. I need to keep alive and be here so that (with all good hopes place) the world makes one more jagged turn and life moves in a better way.

            And for all those people who are now so angry yet couldn’t get themselves out to vote, this is what happens. Maybe some of them should consider VOTING, assuming we have a party for which we CAN vote — another post for another time.

            Right now, we’re just frustrated, angry people who have been displaced at the polls. If we want to be more than that, we need a party, people, candidates and a viable party line that others might want to follow. Otherwise, we’ll just get more of the same.


  2. Maybe with pernicious gradual decline in the value of their income for most of the of the population, including the hollowing out of the middle class, so many people are just too busy trying to survive to notice what is happening to them, much like the frog put in a pot of cold water on a burner and the gradual heating of it will cook him, and he will not notice. That combined with newspaper readership declining and the loss of so many newspapers over the past few decades…. I think also the little screens have made our minds myopic, and dried out the ponds that water our intellect.


    • Thoughtful comment, Karin. “so many people are just too busy trying to survive to notice what is happening to them, much like the frog put in a pot of cold water on a burner and the gradual heating of it will cook him, and he will not notice.” I also rue the loss of newspaper readership and readership of almost anything thoughtful and the substitution of little screen, FB posts, and tweets have a very serious structural affect on the public intelligence.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m amazed there isn’t more of an alarm on all sides of the political spectrum. What’s going on used to be called “propaganda,” and we were as a country horrified by its occurrence and outcome in Nazi Germany and other places. Psychologists and others studied the phenomenon, trying to understand how such controlled misinformation could convince bright and productive people.

    Here in our United States, our freedom has depended completely on freedom of information. That isn’t always easy. It has always been the case that we had to distinguish fake news from genuine information, but we didn’t rely on our leaders to sort it out for us. The only way to do that is to have a free press — many reports and interpretation from sources of varied interests who make themselves available for questioning and challenge. That’s a basic founding principle.

    Now it seems clear that the current administration is determined to define for us what is fake and what is not. It seems also that what is “fake” is defined as that which doesn’t fit the administration’s view of itself or its intentions. The move to silence not only differences of opinion, but those who seek complete and honest news is right out there for everyone to see.

    So why don’t we get that our very freedom is under attack? Why aren’t we all, of any party affiliation, of any religious conviction, of any position at all, totally panicked?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mona, your question – “So why don’t we get that our very freedom is under attack? Why aren’t we all, of any party affiliation, of any religious conviction, of any position at all, totally panicked?” – IS the question that begs for answers. It was the question in Germany; it’s the question here now all these years later.

      Although we sing about “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” perhaps we’re not so much in love with freedom as we are with security, and we’re more cowardly than brave. Close the windows and lock the doors lest the Boogieman (the Islamic terrorist, the Mexican “alien”) come in and get us in the night.

      “Why aren’t we all…totally panicked?” Maybe the panic stirred by the Trump campaign and Administration explains the absence of widespread panic over the threat to the freedom of the press, a panicked defense against the boogieman that leads directly into the arms of the boogieman.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think it is VERY unfair to assume that if people aren’t out in the streets, they don’t care? Many of us care a LOT, but we also have lives. We try to live them. I said in the beginning that this was NOT going to be a “couple of months and then he’d be gone.” It’s going to be at least four years, either with him or one of his lackeys. Frenzy is unrealistic.

      My husband spent more than 40 years as a TV journalist. Of COURSE he’s upset, as are all his friends, all of whom are now retired. Or dead. They are all painfully aware of what’s happening and what it potentially means. They are also in their 70s and 80s which means they aren’t going to be out in the streets fighting the enemy. It really IS time for younger people to get out there and do their thing. We did our thing and we continue to do it within the limits of reason and life on earth.

      This kind of crazy thinking is not going to solve anything. TV stations and newspapers are short of staff. They aren’t the organizations they were 50 years ago. The kids doing the job nows will need to figure out how to do it in an entirely different world than we lived in.

      No one is more upset than I am, but I’m not going to accomplish much if my heart explodes and I’m dead. Maybe everyone needs to take a step back. Recognize we need to remain alive to do anything.

      Moreover, don’t assume because everyone isn’t YOU, that we don’t care. We care. It’s that kind of thinking that got us here. I don’t give a rat’s ass about “security.” I never did. Unless you know me, you should be careful about what you assume.

      We can be different. It’s okay. If it ISN’T okay to be different, what exactly is the point of all this?


      • Marilyn, this comment is apparently for Mona, so it’s not my place to reply. I seem to missing the link. “No one is more upset than I am, but I’m not going to accomplish much if my heart explodes and I’m dead. Maybe everyone needs to take a step back. Recognize we need to remain alive to do anything.” You and Garry have been in the trenches for decades. I applaud both your courage and your recognition of the need to step back in order to stay alive. This period is massive heart/stroke time. Obsession is a deadly spiritual practice. Relief, rest, silence, prayer, and time spent with beauty are the practices that make for sanity and health.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Doesn’t matter. I took the material and wrote my own post. Her comment that “we don’t care enough” is the kind of thing that has brought us to this point in time.

          It’s just February 2017. It’s going to be a LONG haul. If we are all going to be crazed about everything that comes out of the White House, we’ll be dead before he’s out of office. What is SHE doing? Battlements? No? Does she subscribe to a newspaper? Or read one? I’m SO tired of this stuff. People have been IGNORING news for years. Now they are enraged that the same group of people they’ve been ignoring aren’t quite up to the current task of battling the president? Seriously?

          Why aren’t we angrier about what’s going on? Who isn’t angry? Please, tell me who isn’t angry enough.


      • Marilyn, I guess this reply is in response to my comment. It would certainly be unfair for this physical coward to exhort anyone to be out on the street protesting. Even when I was young I never carried a sign or marched, though I have always viewed with admiring awe those with the courage to do it. I do hope I made a difference using my own verbal and presentational skills. But I thank you for pointing out my error. I have broken my own rule — always use “I” statements.

        You are also correct that it was inappropriate for me to be advocating panic which, of course, I don’t really want to do. As Gordon will testify, I become almost boring in my insistence on Intelligent Optimism. I do believe that good will ultimately come of this period of time.

        And, indeed, I do read every day of people being concerned about the issue I raised. That’s primarily because my contacts are all from the same end of the curve as I.

        So, I apologize. Now please let me say what I wanted to say in a different way. The current administration has overtly declared war on the press. I guess it’s fortunate they haven’t taken the “little finger” approach. For me, it evokes a memory of my student trip to Europe in 1951. While there, I received a letter from my brother back home in the states. He had served in Linz, Austria and apparently said something about that in his letter. The letter itself had been processed through Linz, which was in the Russian sector. When I received it, parts of the letter had been literally scissored out. I remember being glad I could ask Harvey about it once once I got back home. At the same time I imagined how awful it would be to live where I wouldn’t be able to go back and check the facts.

        Now the current administration has not-so-metaphoircaly said they intend to cut out pieces of the information that can reach me, and — worse yet — insert their own alternate facts. The chill of that feeling in 1951 returns. And this time it won’t be so easy to go back home and ask Harvey what he really said.

        I confess, I’m not sure where I said “We don’t care enough,” though I can see that it’s implied.

        At any rate, thanks for calling me on it.


        • Thank you for getting back to me.

          I have calmed down a lot. This won’t be a quick haul down a short road. It’s going to be a long, hard road to travel. You cannot force a generation to do what it should. The kids — some not so young — need to find a place in this world and make a difference. I believe they can, but I also believe it will take years, not a few weeks. If they aren’t awake yet, give them time to realize what has happened and what position they hold. And if they don’t get there, then they will have to live in the world they made.


          • Marilyn, It’s an hour later on the East Coast. Great time for a nap! Barclay and I are on our way upstairs with intentions of sugar plums, dog bones, and treats dancing in our little heads.🐶 If that doesn’t work, we’ll come back down for a drink of our choice.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s