Voice and Vision

One Woman's WORDS AND WORKS •grapple •inspire •liberate

124: Don’t Stop Paying Attention!

We get overwhelmed by incessant news. I understand that. So we stop reading, turn off the TV, avoid conversations that lead us into the morass and choose to focus on happier topics. You may have read the 45-page indictment detailing Trump’s 78 charges, and thought, I can’t stand the jeopardy this former President led America into and I can’t follow it anymore. Perhaps you don’t want to read anymore about coral reefs dying (upon which our entire eco-system depends), don’t want to see the melting Alaskan glacier dumping houses into rivers. Maybe it’s the 421 mass shootings so far in 2023 that caused you to stop following the news. Or perhaps it was hearing that of the 25,000 people killed in gun violence this year, more than half were suicides (ABC News). It could be the war in Ukraine, or problems in Israel, Iraq, or Africa. It might be your deep desire to see women have the same autonomy over their own bodies that men have over theirs. You can’t take continuing racism. Maybe you are frustrated by the language and verbal abuse some politicians wallow in rather than actually solving issues that affect us all. You are likely dismayed that some Supreme Court justices receive, beyond their pay, financial “gifts” five times greater than the annual salary of the average American. Your frustration may likely include the rising price of gas, eggs, and a college education. Frustrating reports of inequities abound!

There seems to be no way to fix the problems flooding the news. Answers seem evasive. Principled acts struggle to prevail. We get tired. Tired of all the same unsolved issues day after day. We, after all, have our own individual concerns to handle.

But we have to pay attention to the news if we want to keep our democracy. We are not a monarchy nor autocratic state; no king nor dictator rules us–and we hope never will. Our Constitution speaks to our love of freedom. To keep our country free as this rare document directs, we must pay attention to what is going on. We need to take time daily to listen and learn from honest sources. We must study our history and understand what made the United States the unique nation that it is. Each of us must work to keep its founding principles and values alive.

I heard an historian quote something Alexander Hamilton, the Founding Father who served as Secretary of Treasury under President George Washington, wrote in a letter in 1790 concerning Aaron Burr. It made me realize his wisdom resonates solidly today:

Those then, who resist a confirmation of public order, are the true Artificers of monarchy—not that this is the intention of the generality of them. Yet it would not be difficult to lay the finger upon some of their party who may justly be suspected. When a man unprincipled in private life desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents, having the advantage of military habits—despotic in his ordinary demeanor—known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty—when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity—to join in the cry of danger to liberty—to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion—to flatter and fall in with all the nonsense of the zealots of the day—It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may “ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.”

If we would avoid the whirlwind, we must pay attention.

Our 1736 Historic Home framed watercolor, approx. 24" x 20", sold. By Gwendolyn Evans

Our 1736 Historic Home framed watercolor, approx. 24″ x 20″, sold. By Gwendolyn Evans.

Artwork: Our 1736 Historic Home  framed watercolor, approx. 24″ x 20″, sold.

Fifty-four years before Hamilton wrote the letter quoted above, this 1736 home was built. I remember well the challenges of owning an historic home! And the joys. Many times, it became the subject for my paintings and those of my adult students. Here I maintained my classroom, art gallery, and Bed and Breakfast:  Shawnee Falls Studio, Gallery & Guesthouse. After a few years of living with maroon, I researched and learned that pumpkin was also an appropriate historic color and painted it so.

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