Definition: “analog” means not involving or relating to the use of computer technology, as a contrast to a digital counterpart. For a clock the word “analog” means showing the time by means of hands rather than displayed digits.
My brother and I were discussing the use of analog items the other day. He mentioned an article where the author said everyone should have a watch with hands and preferably “clock works” inside rather than batteries; a manual typewriter; and a camera with film. While these might be considered “antiques”, the author said they had a solid place in how we work with our hands and the correlation to the brain. If you have paid attention you have probably noticed articles that say it seems the brain is “re-wired” by all the technology that was overtaken our lives. Technology has changed the process of how we think.
The other day the internet was down in parts of town. I was in the grocery store. The pharmacy could not receive prescriptions, the ATM cards didn’t work and a few other glitches were visible. It was scarey as I thought about a cyber attack and how it can take out everything in our society. The cyber terrorists who steal information from the on-line data banks at hospitals and banks and government agencies are just for starters. The ones who hold businesses hostage and are paid millions of dollars are another emerging criminal element. They can control transportation and break through the “fire walls” for nuclear devices.
Analog doesn’t sound too bad after that.
So I got to thinking what items I have used recently that I would take with me if I were going to an analog environment. When I really thought about it I did have to laugh at myself.
1. A back scratcher. There is nothing that drives you closer to madness than an itch you cannot scratch. My back scratcher is nearby and it gets used at least once a day.
2. The pinchers that us older folks use for picking up things on the floor when bending over is not an option, or something is too high to reach, or under a piece of furniture and you need arms ten feet long to reach it.
3. Recently, after a couple of surgeries I have discovered the apparatus that helps you put your socks on. I truly wish I had bought stocks in the production of that commodity. It is wonderful! I cannot bring up my one leg so I can reach my foot, so I put my sock over the plastic creating a place for my feet to just slide in and the sock pulled on. Absolutely awesome! At least that is what I think.
I have a manual typewriter. My film cameras are gone much to the dismay of my brother, the purist. But after the internet outage the other days it did set me to thinking more seriously about the issue. Perhaps I should not be in such a hurry to trade analog for all things digital.
We all have days that are highlighted in our minds. For my parents it was December 7,1941, the bombing of Pearl Harbor; for me it was John Kennedy's assassination November 22, 1963; man's walk on the moon, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy; the end of the war in Viet Nam is vivid in my mind with pictures from the news; when the Viet Nam POW's came home I sat up past midnight to watch them step off the plane; 9/11 for a younger aged American generation and now January 6, 2021 for me now past 70 years of age.
Sometimes I feel as though my life is a history book of the post World war II period. Violence and tragedy.
So today, Thursday, a frigid day on the Great Plains, I went for a short drive into some of the outlying areas around Glendive. The sun was milky with cloud cover. Trying to focus on those things around me that fill the void that life sometimes creates:
As an “Alberta clipper” descends today and “white-outs” are being reported all over the area, one rather wishes a “white out” could descend over all the discussions and issues facing us these days in our country as we step over the threshold into 2022. The Corona virus numbers continue to grow and we are now over 800,000 recorded deaths from the disease. The opioid crisis has receded into the background but is still taking lives in the hundreds of thousands yearly. What saddens is that opioids are pain killers and people who take them are desperate to ease the pain of injury and disease. It is a cruel deception when these people are then destroyed by the very thing they hoped would help them.
The New Year has been flooded with news articles from every persuasion — liberal and conservative, Republican and Democratic, Socialist and Radical Right Wing. Most are saying that democracy as we knew it in the last fifty years is dead. If nothing else January 6th revealed that our history has never been what we thought it was and civil disruption has always been an underlying current. Many knowledgeable people are comparing this time to the 1850s and the years before the Civil War. There are many chilling similarities, especially the attitude by many that violence is the only answer to get what we want.
The issue is what DO we want? Do we even know? And like too much candy at Halloween is it even good for us? Some good things have come out of the disruption. People are looking for better jobs and benefits attempting to move out of the cycles of poverty that have kept too many in a type of employment slavery. To find out what is good for us often takes time to shake out. I have been interested in reading many of the overviews of the post-World War II period in American history. These were the years I grew up in — Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, anti-Viet Nam, the drug culture, the end of the Cold War. Times of prosperity and times of recession. In my 70 years plus it has all been there. Sometimes it seems my own life has been a textbook of the history of this nation.
What a “Mulligan stew” we are! I don’t believe we realize we are an experiment, the results of which are not yet in. Although people from ancient times to the present have always moved around, never staying long in one place, the fact there was a sub-continent to the west of Europe was a drawing card for every schemer and swindler, and hopeful refugee. Here one could start over and greed and power and wealth seemed to be available to anyone willing to reach out and grab it. But it wasn’t, and while equality was always a part of the dream certain groups achieved, it has never made it for all people of every race and color.
The Bible tells us “We are all one”, but that seems a hard pill to swallow for people of wealth and power. I will probably not be around to see all that happens in the next twenty or thirty years. Certainly every person deserves the right to freely and without fear carve out their own destiny. We all ought to be able to agree on that.
After reading through U.S. Representative Rosendale’s rant on refugees and immigration, I got to thinking how great it would be if both sides of the congressional aisle would sit down and work out a bi-partisan, revised immigration policy as a prime goal for the New Year. For decades immigrants have come to America from all over the world and we have never had a workable immigration policy. When hundreds of thousands of people came in the early 1900s it was all well and good; they were inexpensive and plentiful labor. Big business was excited to see them come because they thought they would counteract the Unions and the growing Labor movement. Railroads recruited them because they would come and settle the open land and provide markets. Chinese were recruited with the idea they would return to China when the railroads were built, but in the meantime they were inexpensive labor and if they were injured or died, too bad; they were just temporary anyway. When they kept coming, Congress set up an immigration act that simply excluded people and did not enact workable policy.
No political administration can blame the other for what has happened. In my own lifetime: as a child I remember people who were called “D.P.’s” or displaced persons. They came from Eastern Europe and Germany and were refugees from World War II. That same decade (1950s) saw people coming from Korea because of the conflict there. There were many Korean children of mixed parentage who were adopted in this country following the war. Refugees from Cold War Communist activity brought Hungarians and Eastern Germans fleeing to America over the Berlin Wall. Through Lutheran World Relief, a Czechoslovakian family came to Glendive and lived here for a time. They had crashed through a police blockage to get to the West. In the 1960s, I remember reading about refugees from Castro’s Cuba trying to make it to Florida on rafts, often drowning, so desperate were they to escape Communism. Following the Viet Nam war, refugees were a huge issue. Again there were boatloads of people rescued in the South China Sea. People who were college professors worked in cleaning crews all over so their children could have a safe home and a good education. Often they took the jobs U.S. laborers would not take. This was true of the migrant laborers who worked the sugar beet fields and harvested crops in Washington and Oregon. In our Yellowstone Valley migrant workers came for many years. You would see them hoeing beets in the fields where the crop was irrigated. For a number of years the School System provided facilities for a Migrant Children’s program which provided summer school classes. Several of the churches in town got together to provide a picnic to welcome these people to our community. People from Haiti struggled to find ways to come to the U.S. At one time we were dealing with refugees from Ethiopia and of course our longest struggle has been caring for people from the Middle East whose countries have been destabilized by a long and bloody conflict. Refugees from Central America are simply detained and abused.
I have always lived in a country that worked by the creed Emma Lazarus gave us to take in the “poor and huddled massess.” These days we do them no favors when even people who have lived here for years can’t get their immigration status changed to “citizen” because the system is so backed up. They can live here for twenty years and still be deported. This isn’t fair to these people. They have lives and families and they have been contributing members of our society. The old image of someone who “works the system” is not a correct one. There are too many powerful players who want to warp the system and hurt these people for their own gain. We can’t keep avoiding the issues that arise.
But decades have gone by and Congress has never even tried to sit down and come up with a system that works for a common humanity. That would be the greatest Christmas present we could receive as a nation.
Remember when the popular Christmas songs were “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth” and a personal favorite, “Rocking around the Christmas tree.” Those times seem innocent and frankly naive when dealing with the human scars of the past couple of years. Many people are in great pain and the things we thought were lasting and true have failed to keep up with the disasters around us. And perhaps we expect too much from our institutions — government, politics, education, medicine, et. al. Human forms are in the long run without real substance and we cannot “fix” them or expect someone else to “fix it” for us.
Humanity has a long history of failures which run parallel to the good things around us, but the truly good things have nothing to do with the things of this world. Human reason is a wonderful gift we have been given. Looking at the world as it is and not how we want it to be. And for all its faults, it is not a bad place. There are still billions of people who love — love each other individually, love the world as it is, love Creation and the wonders of this planet and all life. There are still billions of people of all colors and cultures who do not see the world in quite the same way as I do, but I know they understand me as a human being and want to reach out and share what is good in their lives.
Perhaps the last couple of years have pushed us into seeing this Planet and all who inhabit it in new and challenging ways. Maybe at last there is an opportunity to create a new society where one is not identified by color, culture and gender but simply by the fact we are a human being. I want people to see me and not judge me by outward signs. We all deserve the right to live out our lives without fear of persecution simply because we do not conform to those around us.
There is an avalanche of fear and hatred in the world retold by lies about what is right and good in someone else’s vision. The rise of totalitarian governments have gained strength because people are afraid. There are those who speak to that fear, enlarge upon it and attempt to gain control by using it to attack people of lesser power.
A common humanity is what we need to recognize throughout the world. We are one and we must not allow the fanatics to divide us. We need each other. It is not about wealth or power. It is about loving and caring for your neighbor. God saw the need of the world was great and so God came to pitch his tent among us, to become our neighbor, to teach us what it means to love and care for each other. God grant that 2022 may find each of us occupying a small place in that tent of God’s love.
I don’t imagine many people know the words to the New England Thanksgiving song, “Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go.” It is an old song and speaks to a more traditional time when Thanksgiving was all about pilgrims and Native Indians and a huge turkey that had given its life for the holidays. Nowadays that song doesn’t fit our traditions and especially one like Thanksgiving, the understanding of which has almost disappeared. Thanksgiving is a secular holiday established by President Abraham Lincoln to give thanks for the Union victory at the Battle of Gettysburg, a decisive victory that led to the Union Army finally winning the Civil War in 1865.
If the meal is served with everyone sitting around the table, there may come that uncomfortable moment when someone says, “Let’s everyone tell what we are thankful for today.” And everyone’s mind starts to fly around trying to find something that doesn’t sound too naive or vague to say.
The purpose of Thanksgiving is not to give us a day off to do our Black Friday shopping nor is it the doorway to the Christmas season. Thanksgiving should be a year long state of mind. “An attitude of gratitude.” People will best celebrate thanksgiving when fear is gone from their lives. We can list those fears easily because we all know them in our own lives. You might think of the Four Freedoms President Franklin Roosevelt spoke about in his first inaugural address when the nation was scared out of its wits by the Great Economic Depression and the dust bowl growing in the midwest. Freedom from want; freedom from fear; freedom of free speech; and freedom of faith. To be thankful people, people need to feel secure in their homes, and security comes from knowing you are loved, safe and cared for everyday and that is a great deal more than a family gathering, a big turkey, and watching football games and eating the leftovers from dinner.
As a people and as a nation we need to cultivate thanksgiving. Is life perfect? No, it never is, but right now there are far too many people who preach fear and want to establish authority and repression on those who are weaker making the matter worse. There are too many people who want to see the world as they think it should be before they can be thankful. To be people who are full of gratitude we must reach out to those who have less economically, those who are searching for justice, for the right to vote freely and a place to live without fear. We must love our spouses and children allowing them to be free within the security of that love.
St. Paul the apostle, writing to the Christians at Philippi, says: (Philippians 4:4-7)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
We have so much to be thankful for. Just begin with the breath of life, the next beat of your heart, and the fact that life is good all the time.
Journals and diaries are always fascinating to read. In the 19th century it was what every one of some education did and the results for us to today tell us so much about the time and place when it was written. I wrote the following in 1975, when I was 27 years old, on a six week trip to Europe. We were about half way through the trip. With Italy and France yet to come. About 10-15 years later I learned about trains in India and the bullet train in Japan. Wonderful experiences. But this was my first and thus unique. . .
I have to say a word about European train depots. Of course I am no expert, but in 26 days I have viewed stations from Bergen, Norway to Vienna, Austria, so I feel I can speak with some limited expertise. First the trains: my image of European trains has always had two frames, the first is French soldiers hanging out of open windows as their trains pulled into Paris (in America train windows do not open). My second frame shows a grand duchess of 1930 vintage sitting in a compartment with approximately 6 seats, green cushions and sliding doors (in America it is considered ideal to mash all of Middle America into one car which contains smokers and gagging non-smokers). So I love opening the windows and feeling and smelling the air as it rushes into my face and hair. One is more aware of the land than caged between two sets of heavy, shaded glass. The compartments, especially first class are luxurious. I enjoy reclining in my seat, eating meals from a basket of surprises or writing ten post cards on a small arm table as the green hills of one country after another slide past. A difference in first and second class allows those who wish to make a sizable to save money by providing compartments or cars with slightly less comfortable conditions. Smokers and non-smokers are also given a preference. When the nights are long, curtains or shades hide the sun allowing more hours of rest.
Second, but only by listing, not by importance, are the stations. Small cities within cities they run from late to early or early to late, whenever your train arrives. Most shops, Information and exchange centers are open to 8 or 9 p.m. some to 12 and then re-open by 6, 7, or 8 a.m. The types of shops available are endless, but most popular are the food shops (Coke, FANTA, fruit, candy and bakery) and the book or news shops. The larger stations, like Oslo, usually have International shops where English, French, German, or native tongue books are available. Of course for Americans, an English newspaper is a scarce, but welcome commodity. Other shops handle tobacco and souvenirs; hair salons, drug stores, flower shops, and boutiques.Restaurants and cafeterias are also in abundance along with an occasional post office and the usual train necessities
Third, are the people. As Walt Whitman commented, “Ah! The people!” The cross section of humanity is as fast moving as blinking your eyes or turning your head in the opposite direction. One moment you are discussing room costs with a young boy from Bremen and the next you are helping a Japanese with a backpack who speaks only English in a German-speaking country. There are students with long hair, blue jeans, T-shirts and backpacks with the flag of their country sewn on — U.S., Canadian, Swede — take your pick. They there are couples who dress at the hight of fashion. Young men in smartly tailored white suit escort young girls with below the knee dresses, platform shoes, and carefully manicured nails. But serving as the background to all of this are the grandmothers in kerchiefs and black scarves and short round-faced old men in lederhosen and Tyrolean hats, or whatever else the custom of the country allows. There are dark complexioned children with big, round brown eyes, contemplating you with a deeply thoughtful stare; there are grandmothers with back packs and groups of chattering women. Always there are the silent people, sitting with downcast eyes or brows set in a deep frown.
European trains are three American school teachers sharing a compartment with two young Swedish boys (one of whom has hustled and captivated a young French girl) riding an Austrian train bound for Italy.
I will take history in any form you serve it up to me. Archeologists all over the world are constantly finding new connections and discoveries that change the way we see the world and what has gone before. It is an exciting and challenging time to be alive.
One of the most fascinating discoveries has been the realization that the continents of North and South America were not “discovered” by Columbus as we were led to believe. There is evidence that Chinese explorers were aware of the west coast and traveled north and south; we have all heard about the Vikings and their settlements in Vinland or eastern Canada. It is believed the Vikings knew of maps from Basque (Spanish) fisherman who for years had followed the ocean currents to the fishing grounds of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. And from evidence discovered around Lake Superior, historians believe people of the Minoan empire in Crete, trading during the Bronze Age used the Atlantic Ocean currents to great mines of copper from that area. There were stories and maps well-known in Europe that led discoverers to try their hand at tracking down the riches that were out there. Rest assured the European voyages of discovery were not for the well-being of the indigenous people, but rather how they could be exploited, enslaved, and their lands stolen for the riches they held.
Indigenous peoples were not “discovered”; they had cultures and histories that were as old as the Europeans they met. Indigenous people include the Aborigines in Australia, the Maori in New Zealand, the Hawaiians in the Sandwich Islands, the Amazon River people, and the complex societies of Native American tribes in Canada and the United States, South and Central America. Evidence is found of a vast network of trade that moved from coast to coast. The "Mound Builder" cultures in the U.S. span the period of roughly 3500 BCE to the 16th century CE, including the Archaic period, Woodland period (Calusa culture, Adena and Hopewell cultures), and Mississippian period.
Columbus did not stumble on a native culture that was in the last stages of decay, but rather met up with a proud people in tune with their environment and living in societies that were great and powerful and had long histories. One of the greatest forces that destroyed or weakened these cultures were diseases to which the indigenous peoples’ immune systems were not able to fight. Smallpox was a terrible scourge as well as measles. In the United States the military and political leaders took on a planned method to destroy the native tribes by wiping out their source of food, the buffalo. The destruction of the great buffalo herds destroyed the ecology of the land and its interaction with the native peoples.
That was followed by a systematic attempt to destroy the family and societal structures by removing the children from their families. The horrific results of that are seen in the recent finds of thousands of bodies of children who died at the boarding schools unknown to their families. Their bodies, found in mass graves, are being discovered throughout Canada at the present time.
Indigenous peoples throughout the world are reasserting themselves after centuries of slavery and horrible living conditions. Our President declared October 11th, 2021, as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. “On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we honor America’s first inhabitants and the Tribal Nations that continue to thrive today. I encourage everyone to celebrate and recognize the many Indigenous communities and cultures that make up our great country.”
There is so much to learn about this world in which we live. That is the great gift of history.
I’ve been reading a lot of history lately and I find in my reading that it wasn’t until humans began to draw together in groups, to create community, that progress occurred. Archaeologists are discovering that society was much more advanced earlier than was previously thought. There have been eras of great achievement followed, due to some catastrophe, by Dark Ages and then a rebuilding on the ashes of what was before. But in it all, it was people working together, in community, for the benefit of everyone that made civilization continue.
When considering the institutions that have shaped society — public education has been a dominating feature. When I taught school it took the support of the home and all the teachers and the administration and the auxiliary staff working together to bring one child along to a functioning, productive member of society. If one piece of the process did not work with the others, we failed that child.
Groups of people who gather to worship the god of their choice, are by their very nature communal. There are people who withdraw from society to draw nearer to god, but it takes a functioning, devout group of people to gather for corporate worship, to feed the hungry, to pray for those in need. Without the communal nature of religion, people supporting each other because of their love for a god-infused humanity, religion soon fades away. One person cannot keep it going by sheer force of will.
Government was envisaged to help the “whole”. When groups of people came together for agricultural interests, economic interests, safety issues, great men and women rose up to guide great empires, establish laws, and make life safer and healthier for the people. When the leaders became controlled by self-interest, the civilization most often went into decay.
Currently we have about one fourth of our population who has opted out of that sense of community. Gun rights, political challenges and health issues are being defined as individual rights with no consideration for the community as a whole. Choosing to live in isolation from society is certainly an individual choice. We have the stories of mountain men who lived off the land, avoiding society whenever possible. That works if you want that type of life, but once the individual moves into “community” other principles come into play. If you want the benefits of what “community” offers then there are a few basic rules to live by.
The old line we heard as children, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too,” comes into play. Something as simple as a traffic sign or a four-way stop is part of that sense of community. The idea is that together we can make life better for everyone and no one is excluded. Douglas John Hall in his book Waiting for gospel identified truth, compassion, justice, judgment, forgiveness, liberation, peace, and hope as the best way we have of “keeping human life authentically human.” And it is these same principles that identify the “community” we can build together.