Friday, July 15, 2022

An Optimistic Address.

It's hard to be an American these days. 

At least an American who believes in Enlightenment values and tenets. Like democracy, equality, science and other outdated notions.

Listening to the trump hearings--I won't call them the January 6th hearings--this isn't about a date. This is about a crazed and corrupt man who tried to subvert our country. The hearings are a doctorate-level seminar in the end times. There is such greed and hatred and racism in America that's been amplified by people like trump and the radical right media, that there doesn't seem to be any hope for what Lincoln had once called, "the last best hope on Earth."

I hardly know anyone who's listening who isn't depressed. Who isn't asking themselves, where can we move to? What can we do to get out of this? 

I'm not sure those questions can be answered.

But then, something happened today. Something happened, small and without meaning, that gave me just a flicker of hope.

Back in December, my oldest and closest friend, Fred, died. We'd been friends since we were ninth-graders together at an elite private school just north of New York City. 

How long ago was that? Vietnam raged. Nixon was president. 

In May, Fred's immediate family, his wife, Celia, and his two sons held a memorial service for Fred at Columbia University. It's where Fred and Celia got their law degrees.

Fred's younger son, Nicholas spoke at the service. As did Fred's older son, Michael. As did I.

My wife, Laura and Celia have become closer. It turns out that Nicholas, a second-year law student at Georgetown, was interning with a law firm in New York this summer and had no place to live. Without even checking with Laura, I blurted, "why doesn't Nicholas stay in our apartment." We're most often up in Connecticut.

And so, under the watchful eyes of Laura and Celia, Nicholas is safe in our home, ensconced with his girlfriend and his puppy, Ralph.

Nicholas is a good tenant. About once every two weeks, he FedEx's us a large envelope filled with our New York mail. 

An envelope arrived at our rickety Connecticut house this afternoon. I looked at the return address to try to determine who the package was from. The address said 200 Park Avenue, New York City.

Back when I was just a boy, 200 Park Avenue was the Pan Am building. My father worked there for about 15 years.

Now, almost 45 years later, the building is called the Met Life building. And my best friend's younger son works in the space now.

It's not a big thing, this coincidence.

But sometimes big things start small.

To me, this is another generation--an often disparaged generation--working its ass off. It's people who help people--for no financial gain, but for what's really important: love.

The address on the FedEx brought it home to me.

A simple example of continuity.

Across a lot of time and a lot of distance.

It's a gloomy time in America. And maybe I'm grasping at straws as I look for hope. 

Maybe the 200 Park Avenue coincidence means nothing. 

Maybe it means everything.

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