30 March 2015

The Approach of Spring

There is no feeling like spring.

It comes every year, without fail, though we begin to wonder whether it will. This year, it is particularly welcome, as we’ve had an unusually snowy and cold winter. This morning – March 30 – there was a light cover of snow on the ground when I woke up. It’s gone now, and the sun is struggling to come out, but the fact remains that spring is a process, not something that happens suddenly and clearly. Two steps forward, one step back.

So much has happened since I last wrote, on the small stage and on the larger one. My second daughter got into her first-choice college via the early decision process in mid-December. Swearing that she does not want to be “that kid” who gets into college and then coasts for the rest of senior year, she has kept up her academic and extracurricular efforts admirably. I don’t know that I’d be working as hard as she is if I were in the same situation. She sees graduation on the horizon – her own personal spring, if I can make that comparison – after the long, cold winter of hard work during junior and senior year. It’s coming, and the blossoms will be beautiful.

I’m horrified, and admittedly terrified, by much of the news I read on a daily basis. Legalized discrimination – the thing our parents’ generation fought so hard to defeat – is creeping back into our national life. If you are a regular reader, you know how I feel about the use of the concept of “religious freedom” to marginalize entire groups of people. As a nation and as a society, we need to treat all people – men, women, old, young, gay, straight, and of all ethnic backgrounds – with the basic dignity that all people deserve. In establishments of public accommodation – stores, restaurants, malls, and schools – all people must be offered equal service, regardless of the proprietor’s personal prejudices. This should not be negotiable in 2015. I am absolutely horrified to see that it apparently is.

And last week’s deliberate plane crash in the Alps. I’m afraid of flying to begin with. My husband has permanent fingernail-marks in his arms to prove it. The idea that one person could use his status as a pilot, a position of public trust, to commit mass murder absolutely terrifies me. I’m not sure what can be done about it. Do we ban everyone who has ever been treated for mental issues from flying planes, or operating other public conveyances? That seems extreme. Someone on the radio said that, given how rare these events are, it seems impractical to change the way cockpit door locks operate. I’m sure that the families who lost someone are not comforted by the idea that it’s statistically unlikely to happen to anyone else anytime soon.

And yet, despite the ice and cold and the hard work and the terrible news, spring approaches. The idea that hope is on the horizon is one we need to cling to. We can’t do anything else. What are you hoping for this spring?