Breaking Silence

Featured

quote-hope-and-fear-cannot-occupy-the-same-space-invite-one-to-stay-maya-angelou-76-81-50Views from the Edge (VFTE) has fallen silent lately. Maybe you have too. The reasons for silence are like the hairs on our heads. Who can count them? The silence on Views from the Edge is both unintentional and intentional.

Unintentional Silence

Finishing a novel requires full concentration to the storyline and every detail. Fiction is like that. It creates the alternative universe that exists only in the writer’s head.

Intentional Silence

The real world has left me speechless. There is nothing that has not been said. Some of it bears repeating, but I feel no motivation to add to the silos into which our public discourse has fallen. Observing a world of madness much stranger than fiction has left my spirit bone-tired.

Why speak now?

I feel a need to stay in touch, to say hello to readers of Views from the Edge. So, “Hi!” You need no reminder of “the edge” from which we view the world. If you’re new here, a quick look through the site will tell you who we are and why we publish.

Today I break the silence to speak again from my experience. My memory is long. A child of World War II, I am aghast at what I see today at the center of American life. I can’t believe my eyes. In Germany in the late 1930s, the Third Reich displaced a democratic republic (the Weimar Republic) by systematically eroding trust in democratic process. Facts became falsehoods. Alternative facts replaced truth. The far right replaced the conservative right, painted the left as evil, and shrunk the middle ground essential to sustaining a democratic republic. Braggadocio and nationalism replaced humility and statesmanship, destroyed the lengthier policy discussions essential to democracy, and frayed the threads of civility that held the German people together. A loud far-right minority who had mastered the craft of theater bullied its way into the seats of power, promising to make Germany great again with boisterous appeals to national exceptionalism and Aryan racial exceptionalism, a fictional creation with no basis in reality. Those who disagreed or whose very existence threatened the national and racial exceptionalism were dismissed, painted as less than human, and sent quietly away the night in freight cars without public attention.

I was raised to belief such a thing could not happen in America. I now wonder whether I was wrong. The parallels seem obvious. But I also see signs of hope that the party that holds power in the White House and both houses of Congress may yet come to its senses. If its own sensibilities fail to lift the nation from the darkness, there are increasing reasons to hope that the Mueller investigation and the stream of White House staff resignations will lead the nation toward our better angels.

Why not speak now?

By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted,
    but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.
Whoever belittles another lacks sense,
    but an intelligent person remains silent. [Proverbs 11:11-12]

Not wishing to add further to the belittling that comes from my own head as well as from the world around me, and hearing Maya Angelou’s wise counsel that hope and fear cannot occupy the same space, Views from the Edge invites hope to stay, and chooses to remain silent. But then … you never know. My grandchild Elijah may yet have something to say. 🤓

Thanks for dropping by.

Grace and Peace,

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, March 7, 2018

 

About Us: One Little Corner

I’ve always had a sense of living at the edge of the world. It’s not a bad thing. It’s not a good thing. It’s just the way it’s always been for me. But, as I watch and listen from my little corner of the world, something’s changed. I have a growing sense of blah, blah, blah, both others’ and my own.

Ours is an anxious time that cries out for a foothold. Speech is the primary way we establish a foothold in changing times.

“Threatened by nonbeing, by chaos, and meaninglessness, man looks for a foothold in the Imperishable,” wrote Dutch philosopher Willem Zuurdeeg years ago in Man Before Chaos: Philosophy Is Born in a Cry.

Influenced by Zuurdeeg’s work, I look and listen for the footholds – unspoken convictions that rarely get discussed – in the battlefield of ideas “where ignorant armies clash by night” (Matthew Arnold, “Dover Beach“). Just below the words, or between them, lie the ideological, prejudicial, cultural, national, class, political, religious, and economic ideals and convictions (footholds) by which we secure our existence in the face of the threat of nonexistence.

My friend and colleague Steve Shoemaker adds his poetry and verse – unique voice that draws readers to Views from the Edge. Over the years, our number of posts have been about the same with Steve’s being the more popular by far.  The frequency of Steve’s contributions has decreased in the past few months following diagnosis and treatment for pancreatic cancer. His recent posts on death and dying continue the joyful sense of humor and play that draw people to his poetry and verse.

Whether Views from the Edge (VFTE) contributes to thoughtful social criticism and a deeper appreciation of life, or adds more to the blah, blah, blah, is for readers to decide. Like other writers, we just can’t help ourselves!

NOTE: This post About Us is part of an assignment for a three-week course with WordPress.com. I’m also re-doing the tagline and the platform. Thanks for your patience.

 

 

 

Question for readers of Views from the Edge

I need your help. I’m taking a refresher course called Blogging 101.

Views from the Edge is the name of this site. Fine. I’m sticking with it.  But what about a “tag line”?

Since “Views from the Edge” doesn’t say what the blog is about, the tag line is important to give the reader a better clue to the nature of the site.

One member of the webinar suggested something like “Looking at public life and the assumptions that shape it”.

I’ve also thought about using the Amish rocking chair as a tag line to indicate a slower, more thoughtful look at the world. Or adapting Kosuke Koyama’s observation that God is a three-mile-an-hour God – walking at the normal speed of a human walking. I confess! I’m stumped!!!

ALL SUGGESTIONS ARE WELCOME.

Thanks for considering,

Gordon

 

 

 

 

THE QUESTION – to be or not to be?

Hamlet, William Shakespeare

Hamlet, William Shakespeare

The questions “Who am I?” and “Why is Views from the Edge still here in 2016?” share a bit of Hamlet’s question whether “to be or not to be?”

We’re no Shakespeare! But writing is what we do. To not write would be not to be, a kind of denial of consciousness and the need to speak. So I’ve written and aired commentaries on MPR’s All Things Considered and anywhere else that has provided an opportunity to think and feel out loud.

Speaking from a pulpit is what I did most of my professional life along with some publishing on the side. Words matter. They deserve to be handled with care and thought. Which is why I go back and forth between days when I dare to think I have something worth saying and days when my words and thoughts feel like sending more pollution into cyberspace.

Not everyone cares about Views from the Edge, nor should they. But if you’re interested in a different viewing point on the news that searches out the hidden, taken-for-granted convictions, beliefs, and ideas that underlie life in the 21st century, you might find a second or third home here.

The edge from which my colleague Steve Shoemaker and I view the world is the margin, the place of an outsider peering in, the way an anthropologist looks at an ancient civilization to find out what it was really about. Steve and I cut our eye teeth on two stories that likely never happened but are always happening: Cain slaying his brother Abel, and the building and crumbling of the Tower of Babel. Both stories concern human anxiety and a refusal to live within the limits of meaningful time.

Hamlet’s “to be or not to be?” is the question in 2016 as climate change exposes the folly of the prideful, unspoken western philosophical conviction that the human species is superior to or exceptional to nature. We’re learning the hard way that we are not, and perhaps, just perhaps, we will also rediscover in the deepest core of the western tradition itself a wisdom and virtue akin to aboriginal traditions: a humbler human calling and way to be our neighbor’s and our planet’s keeper.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, Jan. 4, 2016

Who Is Emily Hedges?

Emily Hedges

Emily Hedges

Emily’s not just any writer. She’s a good one!  Emily’s review of Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee’s controversial sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, appeared on Views from the Edge on Thursday.

Parenting three adopted children with husband Joe, she carries a history of courageously outgrowing herself. Today she’s thriving at Dartmouth College, earning her master’s degree in creative writing and student-teaching basic writing to undergrads. Kay and I became friends the Hedges during their time here in Minnesota.

New Hampshire is politically hot right now in the run-up to the New Hampshire Presidential Primaries. Donald Trump is making it big.  So what happens when conservative parents from Oklahoma take over the television during a family visit in New Hampshire?

You may recognize yourself in this highly personal piece. She’s sensitive to her parents, although she no longer agrees with their conservative, apocalyptic view of the world. She constantly struggles with when to bite her tongue and when to speak up. Now that her children are old enough to be influenced by their beliefs, the stakes have never been higher.

Check back with Views from the Edge for her story Trumped.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, September 5, 2015.

Not “Good-bye” – just “Goodnight”

Last night we signed off with “Say ‘Good Night”, a video of George Burns and Gracie Allen ending their show with George saying to Gracie, “Say ‘Good Night'” and Gracie saying “Good Night” to the audience. A comment arrived this morning:

“I will miss this blog. Unpredictable, funny, inspiring, occasionally depressing, thought-provoking, and more. A sad farewell to Views from the Edge.”

Carolyn and I have been friends since kindergarten. I responded:

Carolyn, Rumors of the death of Views from the Edge are premature -:). It was just going to bed for the night. I kid you not, Ms. kidder. “Good night, Gracie!”

The moral of the story? Don’t get too cute if you want to hold an audience, unless you’re George and Gracie.

2014 in review

Thanks to all of you who visited Views from the Edge in 2014: about 20,000 visits from 126 countries.

Here’s an excerpt from WordPress’s year end report:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. Views from the Edge was viewed about 20,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Steve and I thank each of you who visited, and we are grateful to WordPress for its great hosting for the likes of us. Happy New Year and best wishes in 2015.

Gordon

Verse – Almost 2015

On the Seventh Day of Christmas
It was New Year’s Eve:
Fifty Drunkards drinking,
Forty Fatsos feasting,
Thirty Flighty Females flirting,
Twenty Macho Males maneuvering,
Ten Cute Couples kissing
And Kathy Griffin and
Anderson Cooper
ki-i-bitz-i-ing on TV.

– Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, Dec. 30, 2014

Editor’s Note: Sometimes Steve’s a little over the edge, even for Views from the Edge. But we publish him because we love him, and because we’ll be his overnight guests in a few days. Never look a gift horse in the mouth!

Syria piece re-published today

Today MinnPost re-published yesterday’s Views from the Edge piece. They do a fine job of editing and draw a wider audience. Here’s the link: Irony of Ironies: Honoring King, then entertaining a potential strike on Syria. It appeared here yesterday as “The Abel Project in the City of Cain.”

Thanks to MinnPost and to you for coming by.