Friday, December 16, 2011
The sounds resonating this holiday season – ranging from spoken words to music – seem to conjure up a multitude of thoughts, feelings and emotions running the gamut from elegant seasonal songs to the loud stirrings of the verbal stew that is soon to increase in volume as our political landscape progresses to next year’s presidential race.
Let me state it plainly: this piece is not a paean to any particular political party or philosophy, neither is it either an endorsement or dig at any current or future candidate for office. Rather, it is a broad expression of frustration with the seeming futility of the way in which public discourse has everywhere devolved so rapidly of late.
I know that this type of complaint is far from new. Previous empires have had citizens expressing much the same millennia ago. “Wisdom is driven out from our midst, brute force rules the state, the honest orator is scorned, the rude soldier is worshipped; instead of learned arguments, resort is made to abuse….” A translation from the Latin of Quintus Ennius’ Annales, vol. VIII. Today, turn on any media delivery device – be it the radio, the television, the Internet, a podcast, what have you – and this ancient description readily dovetails into today’s political discourse, into which the same has, at best, been confused with comedy and, at worst, confounded with drama.
Or spectacle from times past. As a practicing attorney mindful of how very important words can be, I try to discern some relevant theme, some beneficial theory when I hear the news in connection with the race for public office. I try. However, the full spectrum of history makes all of it seem but not an echo of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech, not of the Kennedy-Nixon debate, not of the opening words of The Charter of the United Nations, not of Churchill’s address after Dunkirk, not of the logic of Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum, not of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, not the words of the Founding Fathers, not of the best principles resident in Magna Carta, not of the beliefs found in Rabbi Moses ben Maimon’s Guide for the Perplexed, but, sadly, the sounds of manufactured factions, false opposites, the Blues and the Greens, the voice from the crowd rising and resonating out of the Hippodrome in Constantinople…chanting, screaming, “Nika! Nika! Nika! (Win! Win! Win!)”
So very long ago and yet yesterday….