Gathering Kindling

My daughters and I watch New York Times clips of Dr. Ford, my 13-year-old’s eyes wide, her hand paused over her algebra homework at the kitchen table. My 19-year-old and I talk and talk, and then she replays Kavanaugh’s testimony. The 13-year-old says, in wonder, Someone is lying. She ponders this, then says, Why would someone lie?

Tomato vine by cauliflower plant, I empty the garden, exposing black earth, finishing the final coat of white paint on a few patches of clapboards, eyeing the porch windows and gauging when I’ll plastic those for the winter’s duration.

In the dark this morning, my daughter and I talk briefly in her room, rain beating on the roof. Cold October rain illuminates foliage colors, tugs out the very best. I mention I’m going to paint the dining room a sunflower color this weekend, the window trim Santa Fe blue. Cool beans, she says.

What concerns me even more, though, is the loss of those values the (communal) fire precipitates and reinforces… How will the affirmation by others of one’s own necessity in the world be validated? What will be the opportunities for profound courtesy and for ceremony, of which there is such a dearth in the modern world?

We can lose the communal hearth and survive, but survival without the values of the hearth… seems a brutish prospect, a retreat into intolerance.

From Barry Lopez in Hearth: A Global Conversation on Community, Identity, and Place


7 thoughts on “Gathering Kindling

  1. Honestly I do not think Judge Kavanaugh is “lying” as much as he is telling the story he has told himself over and over to make what he has done seem OK. He is angry, that much is clear, particularly towards women, and he may well have blacked out and not recall what he has done. Long-term heavy drinking, particularly when started at an early age impaired ethical judgement.

    The lying may not be him, but rather all the people around him who know all this and allow it to continue. That is the other blade of male privilege that points back; no one has held him to account and he has never had to face the anger within. As I watched part of his opening statement his wife’s face tells me most of what I needed to know; he is still angry, at women and she knows that anger. She is the bellwether for all of us.

  2. Duncan, I agree with you on many things, but you’re letting him off the hook. My life is filled — and is all of ours, I’m sure — with smart and talented women who excuse abysmal behavior from men, over and over and over, because of our society and times.

  3. I am not trying to let him off the hook. He is a deeply angry man with poor impulse control and bad judgment and a person is responsible for what they do drunk or sober, but our society has let him go on telling this lie because he is male, rich and white. I think he should be removed, disbarred, arrested and convicted for what he has done and any implication that otherwise is just poor writing on my part. I also think that in a just world while in jail and sober he might come to see himself as he really is and change. But I have seen enough men go to their graves drunk and angry to realize how unlikely that is.

    Having grown up under the boot of a drunk angry man who sexually abused people (though not me) I understand the dynamic, which is not to say I condone it. But I also put the blame on people who didn’t hold him to account; the police because his mom was a District Attorney, his college because he was a legacy student, his bosses because he was effective as an attack dog against their opponents. He had the bricks but the enablers glued it all together.

  4. I know; I agree with that, Duncan. My 19-year-old and I now have this running banter in our house, inspired by a NPR comment that “Women are mad.” In response, we keep saying, Yeah, got it.

    There is a real place and power to anger, but I really hope collectively and individually we can begin to transpire, at some point, beyond anger — although I admittedly lump myself in that mad category, too. What a world.

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