Friday, November 11, 2016

the greatest generation, on the home front

learning the right lesson

Santayana warned us to remember history, or else repeat it,
what has long concerned me
is how easy it can be to remember the wrong lesson,

in The Black Swan, the author, Nassim Taleb, cautions of a common trap:
take an event and then look at events preceding it,
in the choice of which events to notice
a clear path emerges to the event:
World War II must have been inevitable
and obvious to those at the time,
Taleb persuasively argues the opposite,
that events constantly bombard us from out of the blue,
like an untracked meteor suddenly appearing:
9-11, the Internet, Donald Trump,

my wife’s mother, Mildred Holman Dickinson, cautioned us to remember
that during World War II, they didn’t know how it would turn out,
months could pass with no word from a loved one at the front,

I work to imagine the fortitude, the courage,
Mildred and her peers had to find and live
just to get through each day,
and through each day to hold to hope 
and to the best within them,

as my soul has been wracked with fear of the great unknown
that the other half of the country has just inflicted on my half of the country,
I work to hold true to hope, and love,
and to believing that the better angels can, and will,
save us from the chasm and help us to find a way forward,

I think it’s time to remember the history lesson
Mildred and her peers lived with the affirmation of their lives, 
facing their fears and still letting hope rule them.

by Henry H. Walker

November 10, ‘16

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