Sept. 14, 2007
Plant a radish, get a radish, not a brussels-sprout.
That’s why I love vegetables: You know what you’re about!
Those lines from The Fantasticks played through my mind as I read this morning of a 20-year endangered species restoration program that yielded no gains, because mainly the wrong trout were planted: not greenback cutthroats but their lookalikes: just cutthroats (cleverly trading in Euros, perhaps). In other words:
Plant a cutthroat, get a fish. Its ilk remains in doubt.
Advanced genetic testing is required to sort trout out.
Other news soon thumped that silliness out of my system, but it’s hard to shake the “cutthroat” imagery, given all the shameless cruelty around us. And “you plant it, you get it” stuck around as my theme of the day, pro and con.
This September Thursday — the dawn of a new year for some of us — asks us to examine not the wrongs of others, but our own. Through the span between Rosh ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur, the Old Mythology tells us we may yet repent, atone and thus avert the worst of what was otherwise divinely decreed for us in the year to come. “On Rosh ha-Shanah, it is written; on Yom Kippur, it is sealed,” as the liturgy goes, so traditionally this was an urgent sirens-blaring time during which one hastened to reconcile personal differences, make good on promises and apologize for doing any harm. It was also a period for gathering to recite so-called Selichot prayers in which all confess to all crimes, broadly characterized as failures of truth, failures of justice and failures of love.
Modern reason of course cries out against the admission that, if anybody did it, we did it, too. We like to speak of choices, not fates — other than those we bring upon ourselves, a la karmic payback. And yet I blogged at this season last year:
When we speak with one voice, acknowledging that everything wrong is our shared job to set right, something wonderfully humbling happens. How can the hypocrite not repent falsehood, hearing the honorable do so? How can the brutal not repent violence, hearing the gentle do so? How can the prejudiced not repent baseless hatred, hearing the loving do so? How can the powerful not repent arrogance and greed, hearing the exploited poor do so?
They’re pretty thoughts, but I can’t get behind them now, because the hypocrites, the brutal, the prejudiced and the powerful are so profoundly undeterred. Not only reason but spent blood and wrenching despair cry out today against those truly responsible for the world’s agony. What they planted for their profit, everybody else is reaping in tears: the beleaguered Iraqis, our mostly kid soldiers and hard-working people around the world betrayed by their own leaders and a host of policies expressly designed to rob them and enrich plutocrats.
While I have fallen short in many ways that pain me, I can’t embrace those who deliberately engendered such immeasurable evil when I say:
Ve’al kulam Elohai Selichot, selach lanu, mechal lanu, kaper lanu.
For all these, Lord of Forgiveness, forgive us, pardon us, grant us atonement.
I don’t believe in hell, except as a very common human experience — but, if I did, Shrub and His Thugs should rot in it. I’m not buying Mea Culpas that are undeserved, like this piece of crap. If those of conscience and good will had any control over what’s being done, that would be different, but it couldn’t possibly be any clearer that we don’t.