“In Broad Nightlight”

    –A synopsis for an unspeakable play  

Dramatis personae

Tyre Nichols, 29-years-old

Five police officers for the now deactivated Scorpion Unit for Nashville, Tennessee

Several prominent United States government officials

News commentators and celebrities in the United States and abroad 

Both the domestic and global public

Plot

It is a clear night in  Nashville. Body cameras fastened onto four or five men reveal a scene which evokes an anachronistic image comparable to those associated with the dark ages…BUT  THIS IMAGE IS REAL! 

So real, that the 29-year-old victim of a barbarous assault had him desperately cry out for his mom! 

This image  has everyone—except  profoundly political biased individuals—feel, think, and share similar reactions to an event which trumps political differences. 

This image should serve as a catalyst for Americans to rationally and therefore peacefully discuss and resolve their political differences. 

This image should serve as at least a pathway towards a more united United States of America. 

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Portrait of Profound Hatred

Among its many unprecedented innovations, the Internet has provided human intimacy at an international level. Here, I refer to a recent incident on television wherein Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Marple were ‘alone in public.’ The camera was rolling; it was trained on two people for the edification of millions; its impact seemingly extemporaneous…but obviously not so.

In an unsolicited dumb show, Meghan suddenly displayed an extensive curtsy, fully intended to mock that traditional court gesture for a thousand years. Prince Harry was visibly shaken by Meghan’s ‘extemporaneous’ performance. 

At first, the couple’s body positions were such that Meghan did not see Harry’s nonplussed reaction to Meghan’s show until Meghan moved in a manner that made her face visible to Harry, at which point Harry managed a stifled smile. But Harry was ‘not amused’—as those words are mostly erroneously attributed to Queen Victoria and others —the ‘we’ being a monarch’s embodiment of the nation itself. 

Meghan’s performance within a performance was not a good one. The televised interview with the semi-royal celebrities, although palpably embarrassing, was unimportant on its surface. But notwithstanding, the serious ramifications of societal ‘class,’ past and present, Meghan’s fundamentally offensive statement expressed in the guise of humor was at the very least abysmally inappropriate.

Fortunately, Queen Elizabeth ll died before she was subjected to another Annus Horribilis moment.

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A SPECIAL SPECIES

Unlike all other species that preceded us, mammals added empathy to its arsenal of characteristics. Yes, vegetative species like trees communicate with others of their kind, but that phenomenon is fundamentally automatic and is not identical to empathy, but only to the survival of the species.

Intelligent life radically differs from the automatic reflexes of muscles, nerves and bones. The source of empathy is far more complex than that of automatic reflexes. The source of empathy consists of an amalgamation of an individual’s characteristics, including understanding and imagination. Since emotions play a large role in the phenomenon of empathy, there is a plethora of definitions of and explanations for the words, empathy, sympathy, compassion, understanding, etc..

Scholarship aside, after a series of frauds, the ‘Missing Link” theory is no longer an issue, I never thought it was. And I’ve never subscribe to the notion that ancient or modern humans required a missing link, and certainly not that they are imported from some other planet. Or, for that matter, that the Pyramids were constructed with the aid of aliens.

It seems that there are people who take every opportunity to degrade humans as such. It also seems that there are many people who believe that goodness is a sham; that the works of Shakespeare were written by someone else (as though that would change the stature of whomever was supposed to write them) and notwithstanding a few minor playwrights with whom Shakespeare collaborated, mostly at the beginning and ending of his career. To quote Shakespeare himself, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” (“Romeo and Juliet”).

Like butter, cynicism should be spread thinly.

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LADY LIBERTY REVISITED

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teaming shores,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door
– Lady Liberty

As I understand that inspiring poem, I see no mention of cartels, rapists, criminals, and other human refuse. They, of course, are an extreme minority within the ranks of immigrants crossing the border. But the immediate and potentially future consequences of that massive crossing is like opening Pandora’s Box. Displaced people, especially unattended children, are in tentative and hurried custody. And what about criminals who successfully disappear into the United States? And the host of unforeseen complications that attend mass international movements.

Yet, at the cusp of a midterm election runoff on the 8th of November, President Biden opened the southern border to migrants who then began a mass crossover of the Rio Grande in huge numbers and continues to do so now, in the middle of December…and still counting. Every day, there are television images of river crossings, along with the activity at nearby crowded shelters.

President Biden has been asked the question, “What about the border?” He replied, “There are more important things going on.” He didn’t offer any examples of what some of those ‘more important things’ might be. He is not the only–if not the most important government official–who dodges questions about the volatile situation. Suddenly, there is a tide of homeless and jobless people who do not know the language in what, to them, is a foreign country; small and mega cities which are short on housing (e.g., a luxury hotel is known to have been forced to house aliens); bussing migrants to large cities, and a host of other urban upheavals.

Political differences are exacerbated as well. For an extreme example, there is the bussing issue. Governor Ron DeSantis had immigrants bussed to Martha’s Vineyard. This was openly an act to make a definitive point about the floodgate of immigrants. There is forced justification for that act because the placement of immigrants should not be based on the southern segment of the United States merely because the southern sector happens to be the closet entry to the United States from the south. There followed the spectacle of settled inhabitants of Martha’s Vineyard slumming or pretending that the migrants were welcomed.

Lady Liberty would shed tears were she not made of copper.

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YESTERDAY’S MORALITY, TODAY’S TECHNOLOGY

As we all know, ‘Senior Citizen’ is a euphemism for ‘old age.’ Not too long ago, the words ‘elder’ and ‘elderly’ were still used by some people, but those words are rapidly fading from everyday English. And the word ‘morality’ is used gingerly for fear of being perceived as ‘old fashioned.’ 

Having swept linguistic prejudices and preferences aside all my life, and at the whopping age of ninety-five-years-old, I submit minuscule examples of the thoughts and feelings I have about current attitudes. Note that however astutely the construction of a euphemism may be, it does not alter the reality of its meaning, it merely softens it a bit. Weird.

Self Isolation

There had always been a balanced and reasonable social distance between teenagers and adults in terms of work places, parties, and other social events. Now, there is a studied silence from a teenager who enters a space, such as a small room, where someone else already is in that room. Through the entire encounter silence is never broken. There is not a simple ‘hi’ or ‘bye’ uttered. It is as though the ‘other’ person is not present. Virtually all teenagers are neither disturbed nor embarrassed by the lack of acknowledgement of the other’s presence.  Their lack of communication is absolute. Weird. 

Focus

Television perpetually dominates attention in the home at all times…with the possible exception of a wake. The family engages in conversations over and throughout the nonstop sound of television, even when it is entertaining guests, unexpected or otherwise. This modern phenomenon obviates the very reason for people to conjoin in the first place. When I observe eyes surreptitiously glancing at the screen while someone is speaking to them, I’m embarrassed for both of them. I’m also reminded of the severe lack of focus which is rampant in the majority of today’s social and familial daily encounters while the ever-on television is an audible  and visual elephant in the room.

Purpose

I am in awe of the incomparable advance of technology during my lifetime, but I am also concerned about the ever-decreasing dignity of many government officials, other celebrities, and average folks as well. And yes, ‘dignity’ is another word that is fading from everyday English. But the consequences of the lack of dignity is implacably diminishing the essence of what made America a model for democracy.  

Our democracy is not an ‘experiment,’ as it is often called, but rather the result of the heroism and brilliant rationality of American governmental leaders and the soldiers who fought for America’s independence in the late 18th century. Of course the right of free speech and peaceful assembly are the cornerstones of the Declaration of Independence. Yet, there are both citizens and alien individuals in large numbers who hate the United States. 

The specter of “danger from within” still looms over the United States. It burns hotly in hate speech and in social media. It is mostly propagated at political and educational institutions. I directly experienced the latter when I was a student at New York University decades ago. When I speak politics to current university students, I hear echoes of some of my former Civics Studies and History professors. Like my student contemporaries then, today’s students are not necessarily conscious (let alone informed), about the fundamental difference between socialism and democracy.

The recent midterm election was really about 2024. The 49 to 51 split for the senate was ironically more about the past than about the present and future, and more importantly it was about individual political careers rather than what’s best for the nation. I hope there will be a re-set for both candidates and voters in 2024.  

When both parties claim that the other party is at the cusp of destroying our democracy, it’s time to put aside petty grievances and replace them with rational choices based on individual candidates and platforms of both parties and then choose which party is better for the nation at this time, e.g. a touch of the parliamentary process for elections in the variant democracies of Israel and the United Kingdom. 

Of course, at the voting booth you can vote for only one administration at the General Election, but the choice for one administration which consists of the best candidates, is one way to make the right choice for the nation. Half a loaf of bread is better than none.      

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