“Unbelievable,” I mutter as the voice recognition software balks at my first command. The first command in this digital world, as in all worlds, being “listen.” What is my frustration? Why don’t you hear me. That’s it, more or less. And of course the question is contained in the question. Who is “you” and who is “me?” Why don’t I listen to myself…more frequently and more openly. That is the question.
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind. And what a frightening answer it is, and what a chill wind. Roseanne Barr, redoubtable American TV star, is reviving her old series. Which, I must mention, I have never seen. And is this good? Actually, probably no. Our first Roseanne show was reputedly this American salt-of-the-earth comedy about working-class whites. How they were so reactionary, narrow and comically set in their ways. The fact is I don’t watch much television, so this was easy to miss. The reality is that she is back on the home screens and apparently more popular than ever. This time, of course, as a Trump supporter. Comical? Quaint?
The aspiring dictator does not need any more exposure. He obviously thrives on it. And never mind his personal enjoyment, it’s the political success that seems to come of this. Because in our ever stupider nation, attitude is everything. He’s not taking any shit, our Trumpster. Not him in the dumpster.
Meanwhile, in nearby Sacramento, yet another young black man wound up with scores of police bullets in him for no clear reason. Apparently, he was wondering about the garden of his family home when someone phoned in a complaint. The latter had to do with vandalism, or perhaps car break-ins. I can’t recall the details. And no one seems very clear on them, either. And what happened next isn’t very clear. The officers confronted him, decided that he was armed and fired off multiple rounds. Dead, he was revealed to be holding something in his hand. A mobile phone. Was the mobile phone loaded? That’s what I want to know.
And what do these bits of news have in common? Is there any identifiable common ground that could help pull numbers of us Americans together in an effective way? I think there is. I think that common ground even expands when one considers last weekend’s nationwide demonstrations for reasonable gun control. After all, the Sacramento policeman who killed this young guy were a racially mixed group. One of the shooters was actually African-American. But in a nation that literally has more guns than citizens, the fear of armed attack is constant. And, yes, that fear is certainly higher on the black side of town. No doubt about it. But the entire nation exists in a state of armed fear. And some gradual, sensible disarmament would help us all.
Meanwhile, it’s Passover. Not to mention Good Friday. In Gloucestershire, my Jewish cousin and her Scottish husband celebrated a combined Easter/Passover event with Haggadah and an egg hunt. Call it Eastover. I wish I had been there. I was there in spirit. Last night, I had a Maundy Thursday dinner with Jane’s Episcopal congregation. A fine crowd, a great spirit, a true community. We are all in this together. Yes, somehow including Roseanne.