Tag Archives: nature

Earth Day: The Kindred Touch

Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every hillside, every valley, every clearing and wood, is holy in the memory and experience of my people. Even those unspeaking stones along the shore are loud with event and memories in the life of my people.  Our bare feet know the kindred touch. The earth is rich with the lives of our kin.

Chief Seattle, 1854

Photo Challenge;  Prolific  

 

Kensington Park, Michigan

Blue Heron and Lake Huron, Michigan

Au Sable River, Michigan

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Photo Challenge: Proliferation of Colors in a Second Spring

Autumn is a second Spring, when every leaf is a flower.
–Albert Camus 

 

 

In October, Michigan features a proliferation of color, splashing tree leaves with reds and golds, and mirrored on our waters.

Photo Challenge: Prolific  

Matthaei Gardens, Ann Arbor, Michigan

 

Photo Challenge: Light and Landscape, a Continual Awakening

For me, a landscape does not exist in its own right, since its appearance changes at every moment; but the surrounding atmosphere brings it to life – the light and the air which vary continually. For me, it is only the surrounding atmosphere which gives subjects their true value.

Claude Monet

Photo Challenge:  Awakening  

 

Guarding against the Dangers of Good Intentions

Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.

Daniel Webster, US Senator, 1827 – 1840,  known as “Defender of the Constitution”

Photo Challenge: In a Land of Playful Awakening

The enzymes that bring Spring to life still lie dormant in Michigan, as we await our annual verdant awakening.  But, soon the green shoots  will sprout and local swimmers will take to the waters.

“Play is the answer to how anything new comes about.”
– Jean Piaget

Photo Challenge:  Awakening 

Fleming Creek, Michigan

Washtenaw County, Michigan

Reconciliation Is More Beautiful than Victory

Michigan lake

This date in 1865, the signal act of reconciliation in American history took place, in the dusty hamlet of Appomattox, Virginia. The last embers of the Civil War were dying, as had 625,000 soldiers, blue and gray.  The courtly Southerner, Robert E. Lee, came to surrender his threadbare army, and he met the most unlikely of counterparts.  Union General Ulysses S. Grant had been a clerk in a leather goods store when the war began.  He wore his usual ordinary soldier’s coat, mud-spattered and distinguished only by the three stars in each lapel.

When the papers were signed, Lee thanked Grant for his surprisingly generous terms.  Union soldiers watched respectfully as the gray-clad troops filed past; the order had come down from Grant that there was to be no celebration.  Most importantly, the terms of surrender ensured that there would be no retribution against Confederate officers.  Since General Grant,  hero to the public in the North, had signed the document, the radicals and newspaper editorialists could shout for trials and vengeance until they were hoarse, but it would avail them nothing.

The previous month, in his Second Inaugural Address, President Lincoln had anticipated the war’s end with the words, with malice toward none, with charity for all.  He pledged to bind up the nation’s wounds and to care for those who had borne the battle, and their widows and orphans.  Nowhere did he distinguish between blue and gray soldiers.

The common wisdom might be that the Southerners were the beneficiaries of Grant and Lincoln’s generosity.  The better  view of reconciliation is found in the words of Shakespeare.  The quality of mercy is not strained, the Bard wrote.  It is twice blessed, blessing him that receives, but also he that gives.  By choosing reconciliation, the victor eschews the darker, revengeful  side of human nature.  He is then touched, as Lincoln said, by the better angels of our nature.  Given the fertile soil of accommodation, the slow process of evolutionary growth can proceed.

Significantly, with the abandonment of post-war Reconstruction, the promise of reconciliation was denied the freedmen, even the 180,000 who had fought valiantly in the Union Army.  This retreat from equality remained a  stain on the nation’s record for a century.

In recent decades, the simple, but profound message of the meeting between the aristocrat and the former store clerk at Appomattox Court House has been lost in the noxious atmosphere of American politics.  Triumph at the polls is now the occasion for contempt, not respect, for the vanquished.  The new majority arrogantly rams through its agenda without concern for the minority’s deeply held values.  Reconciliation?  How quaint.  However, as Lincoln, Grant, and Lee knew, victory without reconciliation is a prescription for an endless cycle of rancor and revenge.

“Reconciliation is more beautiful than victory.”
Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, President of Nicaragua, 1990