Effect Measure

Raising my glass

Year’s end. We don’t disclose how many Reveres there are or where they are (we don’t even correct the rife speculation and usually incorrect assumptions in the Comments), but one thing we/I will reveal: there’s only one Revere at a time. So it falls to this one to look back on the past year, which for me, personally, was a year of milestones. A new grandson came into our lives. He is beautiful and 7 months old. It helps make up for the one that didn’t quite make it. On the other side of the ledger, my mother died this year. It was the day before Thanksgiving. She, too, was a beautiful person, 103 years old when her body finally wore out. She taught me to always try to do the right thing and always try to put myself “in the other guy’s shoes.” Advice that’s stood me in good stead, even if I’ve not always succeeded at either. If little William lives as long as his Great Grandmother he’ll still be going strong well into the 22nd century. So along with the other reflections prompted by the end of one year and the start of the next, I’ve been thinking about my mother and my new grandson.

In the world of western Wisconsin where my mother was born there was no expectation she would ever be able to vote. Indeed, she was 16 before that even became legally possible. At her birth, TR was at the end of his Presidential term. The idea a woman might run for President was so preposterous no one even mentioned it. Blacks were disenfranchised throughout much of the land. Lynchings were not uncommon. Now the main competitor of a woman to become the presidential nominee of one of the two major parties is Black. When my mother was born the Wright Brothers had flown only a year earlier. Mrs. R. and I flew to her funeral on what is now a form of mass transit. Few homes had electricity or much indoor light then. Now I’m writing this on a laptop running on electricity but not plugged into anything. My mother was 13 years old when the Spanish influenza came. She never spoke of it to me. Now I write about a new visitation of influenza daily. A look at the geographic locations of my last 100 readers shows them on every continent. In her day not even the biggest newspaper had that kind of reach.

Today’s world would have been, literally, inconceivable to the world into which she was born.

And little William, now having his first Christmas? What kind of world will he live in if he reaches her age? If he does, will he be a healthy 103 or demented and infirm? Will people still be killing each other over — what? Whose God is the One True God? Or battling over scarce resources? Or sweating or shivering in a world whose climate has gone berserk? Or will it be a world better than the one we live in now, just as ours is better than the one my mother was born into?

Of course no one knows. But we can hope for the best and do our best to make it happen. Maybe by trying to do the right thing and putting ourselves in the other guy’s shoes. Still good advice.

So tonight I’ll raise a glass to my mother and to little William — and to you.

Happy New Year.

——————– From all of the Reveres. New Year’s Eve, 2007


  1. #1 gilmoreaz
    December 31, 2007

    My condolences for the loss of your mother along with congratulations of the addition of your grandson.

    Having read your words for awhile, I can surely say your Ma did good.

    Peace, Love and Understanding to all.

    Happy New Year,

  2. #2 marquer
    December 31, 2007

    Will people still be killing each other over — what? Whose God is the One True God? Or battling over scarce resources? Or sweating or shivering in a world whose climate has gone berserk?

    Is “all of the above” an option?

    The outcome which really frightens me is that none of these overtly catastrophic outcomes obtain, and that we slide back into effective barbarism nevertheless. This time a cultural (or acultural) barbarism enhanced by frighteningly ubiquitous and powerful technology.

    I was a student of computing around the time that the early crude ARPAnet was beginning to evolve into the Internet. I was excited and proud about the new world that was coming into being, and I could tell even at that primitive stage that it was going to be powerful and transformative.

    Flash forward to 2007, where the Internet with which I had been so enamored in its early days has now become a cultural conduit for the younger members of my extended family to drink deeply and enthusiastically of a crude, violent, misogynistic, boastful, anti-intellectual ghetto culture which I find completely alien and utterly repulsive.

    Not quite the transformative phenomenon I had had in mind back in the day. Be careful what you ask for: you might get it.

    I don’t have children. Looking at the children of the people around me makes me increasingly glad of the fact. It has been common for millennia for the old to bemoan the declining character of the young, but I am forced to admit that there is a genuine and frightening process of decay now well advanced and probably irreversible.

    When I was ten years old, if I had referred to a woman as a “bitch” or spoken of someone as a “nigger”, even using either of those words nonconfrontationally about a friend, my entire world would have ended explosively about ten seconds after one of my senior family members heard and parsed that expostulation. I would have had my sorry butt relocated to a harsh military boarding school so fast that my feet would not have touched the ground in between my bedroom and the receiving office.

    I didn’t have a cellular phone at that time — no one did — but you can bet that if I had had one, it and any other notional toys like Xboxes and two hundred dollar sneakers would have vanished, not to return, as part of that process.

    Yet conduct over which I would have been stringently disciplined, just a few decades ago, is now entirely normative, based upon what I see and hear every day.

    The late and very much missed Jane Jacobs titled her last book Dark Age Ahead. She was wrong about only one thing. It’s not ahead of us any longer. We’re immersed in it now.

  3. #3 GrEy
    December 31, 2007

    Happy and healty new year 🙂

  4. #4 herman
    December 31, 2007

    I apologize for the interrumption:
    If you were on flight 293 from New Delhi, India, to Chicago O’hare airport on December 13, please contact your local health department. A 30 year old woman on the flight, who lives in California, has been diagnosed with XDR-TB, and is in isolation in a Stanford hospital in California.
    If you were on that flight, you may have been exposed to XDR-TB, and need to see a doctor as soon as possible.
    Again I apoligize for this announcement.

  5. #5 Abel Pharmboy
    December 31, 2007

    And I raise a glass to you, sir(s)/ma’am(s), in honor of your mother, in celebration of your grandson, in sympathy for the one who didn’t make it, and to hope for us all.

    But we can hope for the best and do our best to make it happen. Maybe by trying to do the right thing and putting ourselves in the other guy’s shoes.

    Regardless of technological advances, there are constants in actions and character that transcend all. In the new year, let us remember more what brings us together and less what draws us apart.

  6. #6 revere
    December 31, 2007

    Abel: Many thanks and the wishes returned in full. I am sure your glass will be filled with some excellent champagne.

  7. #7 Paul
    December 31, 2007

    My condolences on your Mom’s passing (who, I would presume, had a long and rich experience we call life), and my congratulations and blessings for your grandchild who has made it. I now also have two granddaughters, one of whom has CP., and we lost our first grandson (late-term, but premature – far enough along to name him Zach). I don’t mean to come across as maudlin in comparing my losses to yours; please forgive such an unintended impression.

    Some of your remarks, however, remind me of the insecurity and fears about the future I allowed myself to obsess over much of my young life as a father of three. So much is out of our control, which is no intellectual clich, but an acutely experienced fear when it comes to the future of our most precious dependents in this life.

    The origin and perpetuation of this Weltanschauung, is the banner of brave objectivity of the modern scientist, whose inclusive credentials in this club require a demonstration of a cynical disbelief in the opiate of the masses (Marx’s take on faith and religion). But there is a cure for this fear of lack of control and pessimistic fear for the future of our loved ones.

    It is faith in the Supreme Being, who is infinitely wiser, kinder and more merciful than man can imagine. He it is Who will pull our fat from the fire. Logic ends where faith begins. It fills a hollow void that we educated men of science have difficulty acknowledging, but who are no less susceptible to its resulting depressing affect of hopelessness, as it applies to those whom we value more than our “heroic” selves.

    Logic ends where faith in His benign plan begins. Psalm 112:7: “He will not fear evil things, his heart being firm in the trust of the Lord.”

    Happy New Year, Revere(s); keep up your noble work, but try to believe/remember Who’s got your back. Paul.

  8. #8 revere
    December 31, 2007

    Paul: Well, thank you for the wishes and the kind sentiments that prompted them. We had a similar experience to yours with some very bad medical complications thereafter for the bereaved almost-mother (my daughter). I wrote about it here, without the details, on the Sermonette. I must say my take was the opposite to yours. I wished then I could believe in a Supreme Being so that my anger would have a proper object. But I don’t believe and given the state of the world, if there were such a being, he/she/it would not be infinitely wise and kind and merciful but monumentally cruel and stupid. But I don’t believe there is such an entity. We make the world we live in or we try to. And that’s it. At least that’s how I see it. So we differ. But we can still work together to make this a better world and I will be glad to be at your shoulder for that purpose.

  9. #9 Dylan
    December 31, 2007

    My best to you, and yours, on the advent of this new year, my friend.

  10. #10 Paul
    January 1, 2008

    I am a retired physician; actually disabled with severe depression. I was one of those dinosaurs – a solo family practitioner. In my training (as a young man) the very same phenomenon to which you allude on a personal level, is what made an atheist/agnostic out of me: witnessing and losing battles in the death of children. Consider such events as the Holocaust. I am no longer an angry non-believer though, only because of later experiences in my life that are too personal and inappropriate to go into here. I wonder if you’ve read the Book of Job – it is an “Every man” allegory of this age old angst that haunts us due to our inability to rationalize such horrible events. Forgive me if I seem to be proselytizing and I’m certainly no saint to be patronizing, but life and its synchronicities arranges it at times that we may somehow intuit Intelligent creation, and come to the epiphany of how much we don’t know what we don’t know. The heart has reasons of which reason knows not. (Pascal, I believe) If this pandemic ever breaks out, it will shake a lot of folks out of their tidy “comprehension” of this dream, we call life.

  11. #11 paiwan
    January 1, 2008

    Paul and Revere:

    Yearly in a certain time and special occasions we have time to remember our family members, symbolizing we live with authentic connectedness and engagement in life as a person. A true person with real journey.

    For me, family is a seminary of ascending our spiritual being by growing-up as an individual, by marriage, and parenthood. I have fought my narcissism, friction in marriage, guilty parenthood perhaps estrangement. This unique seminary provides broken-up experiences to polish my spiritual growth. Life is difficult indeed.

    Our last generations’ passing away usually offer a reality that physical body deteriorates while the spiritual side turn more graceful and loving, we witness that a person become a better being, so to speak.

    Even very short two months, I have seen thru working in blog, Revere is mellowing. I see the difference. Honest.

    We work very hard, trying to make the world better, and ourselves are growing more knowledgeable, or become a piece of fine art.

    So, logically the mellowed beings and the fine art products shall be saved in a soulful place. Otherwise, why waste the enormous energy in developing them and then put aside.

    Carl Jung ever shared his dream, before his mom passed away, in his dream his father visited him with nervous face and asked consultancy from Carl how to improve his relationship with his mom, because his mom and dad never get along well when they were living. (His dad passed away much earlier than his mom.)

    I think that scientists have dreams (real dream in night time,:-) ) of course, so pay attention to your dream, Revere. Everyone has unique journey now and ahead.

    I hope that in heaven there have shrimp ponds for me, so I can practice my selective breeding of virus resistant shrimp, occasionally discuss H5N1 with you, otherwise we will be left behind by the young people.:-) Or we have come to learn from new generation, from today?

    (Hope that you two do not mind that I talk to you about Paul Tillich and Carl Jung.)

  12. #12 Marissa
    January 1, 2008

    Revere, your mum had a geat innings and sounded like a sage lady. My condolences on her passing. Thanks again for hosting this great blog site. Let’s hope 2008 turns out to be a better year than we think.

  13. #13 carl
    January 1, 2008

    Revere, Good post. It’s always worthwhile, I think, to take a long view, and wonder.

  14. #14 paiwan
    January 1, 2008

    Thank you for sharing your love for Revere here. Un-selfish love.
    Both Job and Abraham’s stories are poignant and beautiful. Abraham despite his age and has lived with faith, in his life he has not seen the promises realized fully, part- an impossible son.
    The blessed end of everyone’s life by faith, is it what you say?

  15. #15 M. Randolph Kruger
    January 1, 2008

    Well Revere your mother would be proud of you. Unrelenting, immovable on what you believe in. We all mold ourselves to part of other peoples arguments but the core beliefs all stay as a rule.

    Sorry for the loss. My nephew got married last night in NW Arkansas to a doctor who is absolutely gorgeous. She heads next month to the U of Alabama for OB/GYN. I did that Arkansas run in under 24 hours and you get a feeling of our future if we can keep things on track for about the next 10 years. Track is variable but without a doubt it has to include nothing like BF raking us across the coals. But if it does, thats going to be a part of history. Revere you are a part now of definable history. Some alien race would eventually find our remains if it took us all and it would find you on the disk sort of thing.

    Definable history. Your mom gave birth to a bit of it.

  16. #16 kale kapi
    January 1, 2008

    the one we live in now 🙂

  17. #17 paiwan
    January 1, 2008


    I sincerely hope that you as a diligent gardner with many of us, and Revere set the context. The Fourth Estate of pandemics prevention and public health, etc to be recognized reliable and leading. Please remember not only in the US, global, globally. Profundity and depth.

    Remember you mention 10 years! Happy new year to you.

  18. #18 MoM
    January 1, 2008

    And to you and yours, many happy returns.
    My father is only 95, but having been born in 1912, he also lived through 1918. He has told me a few stories, of going to school wearing an Asfidity bag. He said they smelled so bad that nobody got close enough to anyone to get infected. Social distancing, I guess.
    Just remember that if the pandemic infects 30% of the population, even if it kills 50% of those, 85% of us will survive. Pretty good, unless you’re part of the 15%.
    Hope everyone has a Happy, Healthy New Year.

  19. #19 kiwi
    January 4, 2008

    Revere, I could be wrong here and usually am, but I reckon that your Mum lived a simpler life than we do today, and that the simplicity, despite hardship, enabled her and your Dad to endure the daily/lifelong hardships that ensued. They just got on with life. We don’t do that any more. We WORRY ABOUT THE WORLD! Has our worry made the world a safer place? Is our angst shortening out lives? Oh yeah.

  20. #20 revere
    January 4, 2008

    kiwi: They had much to worry about. The Depression. World War II. Rampant racism and xenophobia. Lots of causes of premature death, including for children. Polio. My Dad was dead by 60.

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