A Spring Torrent
What a week it has been!
On Tuesday, school was cancelled on account of rain. Rain, I hasten to add, of Old Testament ferocity, washing out driveways and flooding pastures and carving out new watercourses where previously there were none.
My son Matt, all grown and out of college, came up from Virginia for a quick visit and shortly found himself put to work clearing the ground for my herb garden-cum-labyrinth. The sticking point was a pile of scrap lumber left over from building the house two years ago. I’d never been able to make up my mind about this. You hate to see perfectly good lumber go to waste. On the other hand, if a stack of wood has sat for two solid years — sat conspicuously in the middle of the backyard — might we reasonably conclude the indolent homeowner never intends to actually use it? Matt decided to put it all to the torch. Which threw me into a panic and some of the wood got transferred to an emergency backup pile — but the main thing is, the ground is cleared now and waiting for the baby herb plants currently fattening up in half a dozen seed trays deployed about the living room.
Sometime in the midst of all this practical activity, an economic summit was held in London, North Korea launched a rocket, the President made an unannounced visit to Iraq, the stock market rose and then fell, and the right to marry was extended to same-sex couples, first in Iowa, then in Vermont.
Some of these events were more startling than others. Some will likely turn out to have far-reaching consequences. At times it seems we look up from fussing around in the back yard and consider that we are, after all, being carried along on the currents of history -- carried very quickly like something cast loose during a storm, swept rapidly forward in all that gushing water. In such a situation, at such a time, it’s not easy to see clearly what lies ahead, where we are liable to wash up. That’s history for you: hard to make sense of while it’s happening.
I will make some predictions. Predictions are always fun because they will probably turn out to be wrong, though by the law of averages you must now and then get something right.
I predict that the G-20 summit will turn out to be more important, in the long run, that it looks right now. As things look now, nothing much happened in London this week. In retrospect I think we may look at this as a significant watershed — the real start of the 21st Century, the christening, so to speak, of a newborn, multi-polar, intensively globalized world.
I predict that the North Korean rocket won’t turn out to signify much of anything, nor will the recent ups-and-downs of the stock market. North Korea will continue to resist, for a little while longer, joining the emerging global comity — for that matter, so will congressional Republicans — but finally this doomed, go-it-alone obstinacy will run its course.
I predict that same-sex marriage will also turn out to be a less-than-earth-shattering development. Except of course for the thousands of couples involved, and their families and loved ones. The institution of marriage will not be changed or affected in any notable way. Perhaps it will be somewhat strengthened by bringing more loving, committed couples into the fold. There will be some sort of reaction from the right, but it will be a sputtery sort of thing, lost in a general hysteria over the imminent seizure of our firearms and the herding of youths into reeducation camps and the Rapture and whatever else is on their fevered minds this week. It’s an awful lot to deal with, and the imminent danger posed by gay couples in formal wear having rice thrown at them does not pack the wallop it once did.
Here is one last prediction, a swing for the bleachers. The struggle for equal rights for gays and lesbians and everyone else in that amoeba-like acronym, LGBTQ -- apparently a committee somewhere decides now and then to add a new letter, but I never seem to get the memo explaining what it stands for -- is over. Let me shorten that sentence: The struggle is over. We LGBTQ types have won.
It’s a pure question of demographics at this point. Nobody under the age of 30 is fussed about same-sex marriage or gays in the military or any of the other so-called “social issues” that once powered the formidable Rovian machine. Our kids are cool with it all, and our kids are the future. So there you go.