Friday, June 12, 2009

A Day in History?

I read the following headlines on Yahoo this morning:

Iran voting extended as thousands flock to polls.
U.N. widens sanctions on North Korea, China joins in
Confusion expected as analog TV broadcasts end after 60 years
Historic tobacco regulation bill aims to stop teen smokers
Iraq: senior Sunni lawmaker shot dead outside mosque after prayers in Baghdad

And these were some of the headlines in The Oregonian newspaper:

Oregon goes on alert for destructive mussel and other invasives
Oregon legislature votes to insure all children
Scientist argues that Cascades volcanoes sit atop an epic sea of molten rock

These headlines got me to thinking. Some of them seem like they could be pretty significant. (Although I'm happy to report that the article about the scientist who thinks the Cascades are sitting on a puddle of lava as big and potentially destructive as the one under Yellowstone went on to say that he's probably wrong.) But still, wouldn't it be cool if tobacco were finally regulated to the point that we didn't have more teens start smoking? I'm thrilled that all children in Oregon will finally have health coverage, and I wonder about the significance of today's vote in Iran and the violence in Iraq. When we can look back with a longer view and put today's events into perspective, will the events and news of today seem all that big a deal in the bigger picture?

Perhaps, 100 years from now, it will matter far more that Oregon's waterways are clogged with zebra mussels than that one person was elected here or another politician was murdered there. Perhaps today is a critical tipping point for a major issue of the future.

Or maybe not. Maybe all these attention-demanding headlines are not so big a deal; we only think they matter because we see things in the short term.

You just never know, when you get up in the morning, what will happen on any given day. We plan ahead, we think we have some kind of control and order in the universe, and then something changes--personally, locally, nationally, internationally. Maybe in the universe.

Maybe it's been there all along, and the only news is that we didn't know about it yet. I used to think that the day we got Mark's cancer diagnosis was the day "it" happened, but really he had had cancer for months or years before that. We just found out on March 13. A couple of weeks ago the downstairs bathtub broke. We thought it happened on that day, but when we tore it out, we realized there had been a hole leaking for some time. That was just the day we found out.


Katie Lewis said...

I can't tell you how many times I stood in that bathtub taking my shower and worried that at any minute the tub would fall into whatever lies beneath it. I guess maybe that's not what you mean by "broken," but that's all I can really imagine. Anyway, I'm just glad it didn't happen while I was standing naked in it with shampoo in my hair.

Katie Lewis said...

P.S. For some reason the news about the mussels seems like it will have the most long-lasting effects. It was the one that stood out to me most initially. Now that I think about why that is, I think it's because we're still so fascinated by the fossils and rock formations we have today that, in a lot of ways, were formed by little creatures like that. The mussels just may have a longer-lasting effect than men.

Annemarie said...

It is a haunting notion to me, though . . . that things begin to happen even before we realize them. Sometimes it's because we might have had the ability to stop some sequence of events, if only we had known. And sometimes it's because we are living side by side with something we have absolutely NO way to control. Maybe it's a larger metaphor for life: That we can only engage in what's clearly before us, that we have to trust that something (or someONE) larger is at work, and that we have to let go of all those things we have no power to change. Easy? No. Wise? Absolutely.