December Morning Musings

Thunder and lightning accompanied the pounding rain. But that is not what got me out of bed at 4:00 a.m.  The storm arrived two hours after I woke. And now, the light show and jarring claps of thunder have moved on. A constant drizzle, punctuated by periods of heavy rain, and dense fog is all that remains of the series of violent squalls. I observe this weather from the safety and comfort of my cozy study. I suspect my observations would be radically different if I were cowering beneath a tree, hoping Zeus would not choose to unleash the fury of a lightning bolt on that very tree.

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My thoughts this morning struggle as I attempt to direct them to my fingers. They resist, asserting their right to remain safely private. There, hidden in my brain, they cannot expose me to what might be the incredulous reactions of people who might be shocked at what is on my mind. Yet concealing those thoughts also eliminates the possibility of discovering that someone might not react with shock but, instead, with reciprocity.

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Last night, we watched Good Night, and Good Luck, a black & white film about Edward R. Murrow’s exploration and exposure of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s crusade against communism. The film was made in 2005. Its cast included David Strathairn, George Clooney, Robert Downing, Jr., Frank Langella, and Jeff Daniels, among many others. We decided to watch the film after listening to an old interview in which Terry Gross interviewed George Clooney on NPR’s Fresh Air. Clooney co-wrote and directed the film. My assessment of the film: exceptional and highly recommended.

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I skimmed an article last night involving kidnapping, polygamy, and sexual abuse of minors—and odd and unfortunate mix that intertwines judgments of illegality and immorality. As I was reading it, it occurred to me that our society views multiple intimate relationships differently, depending on when they occur. American society accepts multiple marriages, provided they are separated by the appropriate (but unspecified) temporal distance. Simultaneous multiple marriages, though, are deemed immoral and are illegal. The prohibition against polygamy and polyandry formally identifies simultaneous intimacy as thoroughly unacceptable. I wonder why our collective morality views consecutive marriages differently from simultaneous marriages? And why do we frown on intimacy between people who are married, but not to each other?  So many matters about which to be curious. Perhaps we label certain practices as immoral simply as a means of challenging our ability to differentiate between multiple forms of irrationality. Interesting, that. Thinking about such matters could keep a person occupied for hours. Or for a lifetime.

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And that, as they sometimes say, is a wrap.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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