I'm leaving on a jet plane. No, not headed to Canada, though it feels good, getting off this planet, even temporarily. The plane ascends rapidly and I let out more breath the higher we climb.
Visibility is excellent today. We are nearing Chicago and there is the distinctive lacy dome of the Baha'i Temple. A moment later, Wrigley Field, which for all its larger-than-life history, looks so small, like Casey's diamond in Mudville. Then, south of the skyscrapers, the large swathe of green in Hyde Park where President Obama will build his library.
These landmarks seen from above comfort me. Peace. Unity. And the future. In that order.
The person next to me asks about my shoes, but I can't chitchat. In the words of J.R.R. Tolkien, I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread. Behind me, three seniors have found common ground and talk heatedly about the election. "We've had worse presidents... Nixon ... Carter... Hoover!" says one gentleman as the two women agree. I'm guessing this game is going on in many rows, with people floating word bubbles, testing the atmosphere, feeling each other out.
I imagine if I floated a word bubble, this is what it would read, that I'm afraid. That we as a nation are now manacled to someone unprepared for the magnitude of the labor ahead. The world will come at him. Events will unfold faster than this airplane is flying. He will flail his arms and our arms, now attached to him, will also flail. And we will be injured. All of us.
If it was revealed that the pilot of this airplane had no training, could not operate the instruments, took his or her place in the cockpit with the confidence that he or she could learn to fly on the fly, what could we passengers do? We are strapped in our seats comfortable in our assumption that we all share the same expectations for a pilot.
And when that assumption is shattered, we are left with conjecture. Will we crash? Will we burn? Who will survive?
We can put some faith in the systems that surround the pilot. The FAA's safety standards. The air traffic controllers. The co-pilot and crew.
We can put faith in ourselves. We passengers must take care of each other, protect each other, help people with barf bags and overhead compartments.
We can put faith in our forefathers, like Abraham Lincoln. Here's what he said on the eve of the Emancipation Proclamation:
The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise -- with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.
And we can put faith in the truth that this entire blogpost-metaphor is silly because our Republic ain't no flying tin can.
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