Sometimes I have to remind myself that some believe the world is actually moving toward enlightenment. With unprecedented access to education and art and the writings of brilliant people, we are getting smarter. We know so much more about the world around us. We see injustice in black and white and can make judgements on how we want to conduct ourselves. We can decide to care for others and share what we have.
A friend told me recently that because I live in the blue bubble of Portland, Oregon, I can’t possibly understand how people outside my insulated world think. I’m sure he’s right, as far as it goes. Where I live the majority of people have enough to eat and can go to school. We can say what we want, vote for whomever we like, go where we wish, buy what we need. Not all of us, but the majority. It is a protected world I live in. Rarified, really. But I understand that where you stand determines what you see, and I often need to remind myself of that, too.
This morning I’m having trouble holding on to that worldview. There are articles in today’s newspaper about two jurors from the Malheur Occupiers trial. One seeks to explain the jury’s reasoning when it acquitted all the defendants who, heavily armed, took over a federal wildlife facility in southeastern Oregon last year in protest. Apparently, prosecutors could not prove conspiracy to the jury’s satisfaction. The other article is about one juror who was removed from deliberations the day before the verdict. One of the jurors felt that this guy, who was known Juror Eleven, was biased and he asked the judge to remove him. Juror Eleven had worked for the BLM 20 years prior and had a different perspective about the case. It sounds as if the two butted heads in the jury room, and Juror Eleven says he feels attacked. Wow! I’ve never seen anything like this, and I pay attention to court reporting, having done some myself. And if this isn’t weird enough, there was a brief clash outside the courthouse the same day between people celebrating the acquittal and some “Don’t Shoot Portland” protestors who feel African Americans are being targeted by authorities. They point out that the Malheur occupiers, their lawyers and their jury were all white, which they believe explains the acquittal.
While I’m musing about this, I see a Washington Post piece that says that the US Justice Department believes James Comey of the FBI overstepped his authority when he announced a new investigation into emails regarding Anthony Wiener but which involve Hillary Clinton. The Justice Dept. spokesperson said this action goes against policy of 1) not discussing ongoing investigations, and 2) not appearing to take action that could be seen as influencing an election. Wow again! And of course, there’s the ongoing issue of one of the presidential candidates claiming the election will be rigged if he doesn’t win.
So here I sit, alarmed at the state of my divided country and for the larger world where thousands of people are under siege, starving and running for their lives. Though I’m confident the upcoming election will go my way, I worry that the great split down the middle of America will get violent. It already has. But as I look up from my computer, I realize that it is so easy for me to concentrate on moving toward enlightenment. Outside the piney forest of Central Oregon is dripping and fragrant with autumn rain. I’m warm and fed, and my beloved little dog is lying next to me. When I finish I can walk over to the indoor pool, steam room and hot tub. If I want to, I can watch a college football game or the World Series on TV. I’m reading a great novel right now, and I can always study my Spanish lesson. Oh, and let’s see, what should I make for dinner? So many choices, and all of them safe. Om.