It's definitely autumn now. The leaves are still bright, but they're falling rapidly. We had a hard frost last night. The lawn was white and frosty in patches. We've been building fires in our woodstove for a few weeks now. Today it was brisk outside and a little chilly in my poorly heated office on campus. In March, this would have felt like a warm day. But it's not March, it's mid October. So it felt cold.
I've been following the election quite closely, and like many have been chilled some by the tone of the rhetoric the last several weeks. Nasty politics is one thing, but the last few weeks have been alarming. The mob-like crowds at some of the McCain/Palin rallies are tough to watch. Quite likely what I see on youtube and other blogs isn't representative of most of the rallies, and certainly isn't representative of most McCain supports. But nevertheless, it's chilling.
I don't really know how to put my discomfort to words. I'm not so much angry at McCain or Palin as I am simply sad or disheartened. There seems to be an undercurrent to the campaign which mocks the very things we should be celebrating. This started at the convention, where two speakers were contemptuous of the idea of community organizing. It continues with this notion that small town America is the "real" america, and that some parts of the country are more "pro-American" than others. And then there's the use of the word Muslim in a way intended to conjure up fear and suspicion.
In the last several days I found two good responses to this madness from two very different sources. The first is from General Colin Power in his endorsement of Barak Obama. It's a powerful response to the divisiveness of the season. It's worth listening to. Powell's discussion of Islam not being anti-American is quite striking and effective. (This is at around 4:45 of the clip.) Yes, I know that Powell is an establishment figure, and he's not exactly a hero of mine. But nevertheless I found his comments quite moving.
I also recently read a graceful post, What a Beautiful World by Tim Burke. He eloquently gives voice to some of what I've been feeling the last few weeks, in a far, far more coherent and articulate way than I ever could.
2 days ago