Circle of life

While I took a little break from covering the news from around Chesterfield, I began collecting news from around the world, literally. Meanwhile, Linda was looking forward to a peaceful month sprucing up our nest. (No bright ideas, we’re 60 plus OK?). She thought it would be a good time to get me out of the way so she could do some … and make some changes to our “moveable feast.”

“I always worked until I had something done and I always stopped when I knew what was going to happen next. That way I could be sure of going on the next day.” – Earnest Hemingway from a “Moveable Feast.”

That quote fits Linda to a tee, depending on the context. She works toward what she wants, day after day. So I returned home seeing the work she had done, and like Dick van Dyke fell over the family room ottoman. Actually it was the kitchen table that got me. Our table had been against a wall in the kitchen, now it was moved to the center of the room with an antique chest taking its place.

It wasn’t a bad change, in fact, for me it has ended up to be a good change. Typically I pace back and forth when I get a little wound-up, now, I can pace around the table until I get dizzy.

So many things are cyclical - no matter how hard we try, it’s hard to break the eternal circle of life. For instance, I have always pace when I am thinking. From time to time I have broken my OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) behavior and like grinding my teeth have calmed down for years at a time, but old habits die hard, and the pacing and grinding comes back. I’m talking years sometimes.

I watch as government works the same way, the cycle of Democrats and Republicans taking charge, religions being conservative or liberal and the Yankees and Red Sox swapping the series from time to time.

Together with James Madison, Jefferson carried on a long and successful campaign against state financial support of churches in Virginia. It is Jefferson who created the phrase “wall of separation between church and state.”

 About 12 years ago Chesterfield was sued by a Wiccan woman who was protesting the loose policy of Chesterfield’s Board of Supervisors that did not allow anyone other than those who had a relationship with Christianity to offer the invocation at a County meeting.  The Board won because their attorney stated that the invocation was for the Board, not the general population.

The cycle rolls around and around.

According to the Augusta, Georgia Free Press, The Chesterfield Board of Supervisors (Board) continues to ignore their own policy. In a letter sent to Chesterfield (and copied to the courts), some faiths continue to be excluded, even though their faith meets the policy. For example, the county’s list of religious organizations invited to deliver invocations excludes the Chesterfield County Sikh congregation Richmond Gurdwara, even though, according to the group’s website, Sikhs practice “strict monotheism.”

The Executive Director, Barry W. Lynn, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, has said that anyone who wants to give the invocation at a governing body, should be permitted to do so. Otherwise, their actions are unconstitutional.

Allan Carmody, director of the budget and management department, gave the invocation at the Board meeting on April 9. His words were the most inspiring yet secular (non-religious) as I have heard since attending the Board meetings.

“We are thankful as we gather tonight, that we may be guided in the use of the tools of our trade, judgment, initiative and perseverance. Together we can accomplish many things by our considerable talents of the issues before us. As we work together for all those that live and gain strength from this county, may we gain reason and compassion and in doing so may rewards of these efforts result in a stronger county.”  – Mr. Carmody

Emile Durkheim, a French philosopher, said, “Once people circle around some sacred object or value, they’ll then work as a team and fight to defend it. Durkheim wrote about a set of intense collective emotions that accomplish this miracle of E pluribus Unum (out of many one), of making a group out of individuals. Think of the collective joy in Britain on the day World War II ended. Think of the collective anger in Tahrir Square, which brought down a dictator. And think of the collective grief in the United States that we all felt, that brought us all together, after 9/11.”

As a kid attending Catholic school, we were told not to play or associate with Protestant kids. Catholics were supposedly the one true religion. After all we were told Jesus Christ was the founder of the Catholic Church. I think that concept worked as well as the Latin Mass.

As Alexander Hamilton wrote in the Federalist papers “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The definition of self-evident: understanding a meaning without proof, sure puts a lot of beliefs into question. And the circle of life continues.


Mark's May 28 column

"As a kid attending Catholic school, we were told not to play or associate with Protestant kids." (Circle of Life, 5-28-14) I went through Catholic elementary school here in Virginia 1938 - 1945 and never heard anything like that. I don't doubt that it may have been said at some place or other, but it was so out of date everywhere by the 1950's. Since the 1960's, the Catholic Church has been a leader in ecumenical affairs and progress. Such an attitude would not be tolerated in a Catholic school today.

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