A Deep Breath: There's Still 94 Years genre: Indie-Script

Well it's been two weeks now since Thought Theater came out from behind the security of a password. Those fourteen days went awfully fast...which for me isn't necessarily a bad thing since I'm prone to boredom. Nonetheless, it seems appropriate to stop for a moment in order to reflect on where I've been and what I think I may have learned.

In my high school, the Headmaster was a remarkably insightful person and my particular group of friends spent a good deal of time with Ed during the school year as well as the summer. Although he never said it in so many words, Ed lived each day as if there were no tomorrow. There were countless demonstrations. I did take note of one particular conversation. He told me that despite his record of notable positions in education (he also wasn't inclined to stay in any one particular position), he hadn't saved a penny. He paused for a moment before saying, "and I don't regret it."

We constantly asked him to tell us the secret of life and he assured us that he would...but not until we graduated. Like a cherished home movie, that moment remains a vivid image. We were standing on the steps of the Cathedral, having just finished the graduation ceremony, when I reminded him that it was time to tell me the secret. In retrospect, I think I knew what he was going to say but I wanted to hear the words. In his charming Boston accent, he said, "Dan, there is no secret to life...you simply live it."

Over the years, I've often thought back on those words. Many times it felt as if they were the words of strangers spoken in languages I couldn't comprehend. Those moments told me that it was time for change. Initially, I resisted and held my ground thinking change would come to me. Sometimes it did...but it was rarely the change I preferred. Much like a failing tree on a hillside overlooking a brook, waiting stoically for the water to rise high enough to provide a much needed drink, that eventually realizes it must reach out for water if it is to survive, I came to understand that life is the same. Life is not a carnival ride whereby we pay a fare to be whisked away in a whirlwind to new places filled with new surroundings and surprises.

The last three years have been part of my own journey to reach out. The launching of Thought Theater is one segment in a host of changes. The last two weeks have been quite similar to the beginning of my trip around the world a little more than a year ago. It's been me alone again with absolute strangers...something I particularly enjoy but only recently came to fully appreciate. It's difficult to explain. For the most part it's about fulfilling the words that Ed spoke so long ago. It's also about reaching out in numerous ways to find and effect change.

People are fascinating. One thing is certain...wherever people are involved, anything is possible. It's hard to say if I think I've been surprised by the events of these two weeks. My general nature is such that I often expect the unexpected, so in that sense one could say I'm not surprised. At the same time, much of what has transpired, I didn't fully anticipate, although in hindsight it fits my perceptions of the nature of people and the world we inhabit.

Strangely enough, I've always liked politics, although not simply because I'm singularly interested in political matters. Actually, the political arena may be the single best place to watch and learn about people. Few other topics stir as much passion as politics and religion. I mention religion primarily because it has seemingly become an integral part of politics in recent years. For me, it seems a rather difficult and dangerous marriage.

As I've found myself in conversations at numerous blogs this past two weeks, some interesting, if not troubling, patterns have emerged. Conventional thinking is that the internet allows people to breech the divide of distance in order to share ideas and observations. To a degree that is true. However, I see much of this new "communication" being less about communicating and more about contentious attacks. Most fascinating is the fact that this behavior takes place at sites where one would expect more consensus than conflict and yet the opposite is just as likely.

It's not uncommon to find a Democrat denigrating another Democrat or a Republican insulting another Republican. There is little cohesion to be found in either camp. The notion of the collective body politic has seemingly been reduced to everybody is their own singular body politic.

Two particular "discussions" come to mind; one about Howard Dean and one about Joe Biden. Granted, I have opinions about both men but these two discussions were primarily nothing more than toss downs. If anger were an odor, I would have had to move away from my computer screen. During the discussion, I inserted what were primarily balanced observations about both men. I was ignored. The conversations could not be moved beyond polarization.

Much like my trip around the world, my travels on the internet bring me to similar conclusions. I'm reminded of a play I saw in New York in the early nineties, Angels in America. The play encapsulates the events at the end of the twentieth century into a prelude about the choices of the coming century. The play heralds the arrival of a new order, a new awareness, and a new politic. The message is one of hope and anticipation for the approaching millennium despite the many issues plaguing the world at the time.

Sadly, little of Kushner's vision has materialized some six years into this new century. Dreams of new alliances have been met by growing fractures. Hopes of a collective spirit have been dashed by partisan rhetoric. The promise of technology has brought us nearer to each other though certainly not closer. Though we are some ten plus years beyond Kushner's dream, we are seemingly closer to Orwell’s imagined vision of some ten years prior.

Two weeks later and my passion for humanity is no worse for the wear. The task likely exceeds my prior perceptions. Each day brings us new possibilities and new opportunities to effect change. Like the metaphorical tree, we must each reach beyond the ground upon which we stand. If these connections we call the internet are to become a new web of interconnected roots whereby we all share in the waters that are our collective destiny, then we mustn't pollute the place from which it flows. Each of us must seek out change. Two weeks later and my expectations must grow accordingly. The millennium approaches. I'm hopeful we still have ninety-four years.

Daniel DiRito | April 14, 2006 | 10:16 AM
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