#831: The Eclipse, Charlottesville and a Timeout for America

August 18th, 2017

On Monday, the sky will darken, and we’ll see a universe greater than we can ever hope to be.

If we choose to use it.

We’ve all heard about the eclipse, of course. It will come on Monday in a swath across the nation. Chicago will see the moon cover about 87 percent of the sun at roughly 1:20 p.m.

Don’t look right at it, everywhere’s out of eclipse glasses, make a pinhole camera and all that other stuff every site, blog and news source is telling you.

But I’m telling you this in addition: Let’s use this chance to be amazed. Let’s use this opportunity the sun and moon are presenting to us to stop. And to think.

Think about Charlottesville. Think about the wave of overt racism emerging from the covert. Think about why the right wing of the white people are emboldened enough to rally, march, brag, bluster and run cars into crowds of protestors knowing they’ll get no more than a light scolding from the powers that be.

Think always that this is not new. Think that these vile beliefs were forged long before August 2017, or Nov. 8, 2016. Are we a more racist nation now, or are we just more open about it? I know my opinion on the matter, but I’m curious to see what you come up with when the sky darkens and we get a chance to clear our heads.

I don’t want to open myself up for criticism that I’m calling for navel-gazing inaction in the wake of the spurt of Nazi, Klan, white supremacist and militant right-wing protests across the nation. Yes, organize, activate, get involved.

That involves giving money or time to a social organization fighting this onslaught to our values. It does not involve tweeting or Facebooking to your well-curated social media circle of like-minded liberals that you hate racism. Hating racism is not a thing to brag about. That’s like bragging that you’re not currently stabbing someone. You shouldn’t have to tell people that.

But when the sky goes hazy, sit through the haze while the moon rolls on. The eclipse will start at noon and be done by 2:40, peaking at 1:20. The city will stop as we gaze through glasses or into pinhole cameras. Take a break from the breakneck and use this rare chance to think.

This is the universe giving us a moment of silence, a moment we could seize for thought, reflection and better action. It’s a timeout rolling across a nation. It’s a chance to sit in the dark and think about what we’ve done.

And it’s a chance to think about what the next step should be.

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