Here's my quote for the week from none other than President Lincoln. When you hang out in Washington, you are unavoidably steeped in the perennial--and perennially ignored--wisdoms of history. And when you are steeped in history it's hard to avoid that feeling that no matter how bad the world is, we have been here before. In other words, we have all learned the lesson that we never learn the lesson. Pity Mr. Lincoln, pity Mr. Obama.
As Lincoln said, "We are now engaged in a great civil war....." and yesterday, Obama entered into one of his own, this one in Lybia. Any easy answers? When very smart people can't agree on what to do, what are we, the common people, to think? Is there really any wisdom in the "common wisdom"? Where would we all be now if the 16th President had simply said to the South in 1860, "See ya'll later. Good luck with your Confederacy" and thus saved 618,000 lives? But we engaged in that civil war for the lofty purpose of holding the Union together. We are engaged in this civil war to keep the oil flowing--oh, yes, and to save the common people of Lybia from genocide.
Never mind. I turned away yet again from the madness and found some solace in a peaceful place: the sculpture garden at the National Art Gallery. It was a beautiful day, weather wise, and I found a seat in the sun on a bench and watched troops of middle schoolers out on their spring field trips pass by. I chatted up a couple of middle-aged guys (one in German, which was fun and nice see that I can still speak that language as badly as I used to). The other said he worked in one of those big marble buildings next to the garden and why not come out and get some sun and bring his work with him? He took my picture and I took his. The combined innocence of art, warm sunlight, a cool breeze, easy comraderie, and the chatter of the young people, had the sought after magical effect: I was able to become mindful and this allowed me to stick my head in the sand and pretend everything is okay. And maybe it is.
The writer being mindful in the National Gallery of Art sculpture garden on a spring day. Just like in high school sports, I'm still riding the bench, but now it feels very nice. Or maby I'm part of the exhibit--Title: Man Being Mindful in the Sun