Five things, Friday roundup: “Just keep swimming!”

Photo by David Augsburger. Taken in Palm Springs, CA. Photo by David Augsburger. Taken in Palm Springs, CA.

The water has been a bit deep around most of us, and we each have our own kind of fatigue. So the advice to keep going gave us a second wind. When common codes and words are ER, ICU, COVID testing, temperature checks, breakthrough cases, we need to hear some fresh phrases.

1) “Just keep swimming.”

Leann, who in April underwent three encounters with anesthesia in eight days for multiple treatments, and facing a possible new surgery, was much encouraged by a friend whose doctor offered a metaphor that works. “Just keep swimming,” the doctor advised, and that touched a deep place of courage and fortitude in the competitive swimmer from Shafter High School a few decades ago (we will not mention how many). There is nothing as powerful to the soul than a good metaphor. Finding one is like finding a pearl. This one fits a wide sweep of challenges we face in pandemic season upon season.

2) A Mile Away Yet Worlds Apart.

A mile east we cross the city/county line and enter a different world. In Claremont all are masked in grocery or pharmacy, but the same chain stores across the way in Upland are filled with people who show their teeth and forget about social distancing. Political, not medical issues seem to rule the day, and friends who are frontline workers process anger as their own families are placed in jeopardy by the invisible contagion. Neighbor love is not a primary good, as we once expected. Would The Good Samaritan be seen with or without a mask?

3) Do we lack the ability to be self-critical?

After 20 years at war, we are asking each other, does our nation have the capacity to examine our actions? Representative Barbara Lee (CA), the sole vote in US congress against war as the response to 9/11, asks now after two decades of killing, “Can we learn that there is no military solution to the situation in Afghanistan?” We are debating the ideas of Yale professor Samuel Moyn (Humane: How the United States Abandoned Peace and Reinvented War, Farrer, Straus and Giroux) that our high tech drone warfare has stifled our consciences, Or William Arkin, (The Generals Have No Clothes. Simon and Schuster) that organization not ideological powers rule in our perpetual war. Can we do self-examination? Can we talk?

4) “Summer of Soul.”

HULU took us back to amazing music performances in the summer of 68, not at Woodstock, but in Harlem, in Morris Park. Resurrected from someone’s basement the films are clear, the music fresh, the crowds alive to the sounds and scene. Largely unnoticed at the time, mostly ignored in music history, tragically forgotten, the successive weekends of music festival touch the soul. The list of performers is long and exciting, and the songs presented have lived on in spite of American attention being captured elsewhere by a year filled with cataclysmic events of seismic change across America. Watch it with your eyes and ears tuned carefully by your heart.

5) Consequences.

Life is living with the consequences of our choices. This is an age of consequences. Consequences of despoiling the earth, spoiling the atmosphere and defending our right to the spoils by continuing the rape of land and sea. We are heirs to the choices of the generations before, we destine the consequences of our decisions onto the generations that follow us. This is the stuff of conversations too painful to consider, but consider them we must.

David and Leann Augsburger

David and Leann Augsburger are two semiretired people (CA school psychologist, Fuller Seminary professor) who co-lead a home-based church (Peace Mennonite Church,Claremont, California) and volunteer to welcome, care and connect people in the San Gabriel valley. Read More

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