7th grade brought with it a challenge: Select a speech; memorize it; present it in real-time, Saint Mary’s stage, auditorium full, spotlight on — a cadre of classmates, self-selected by ability and ambition sitting politely silent while I summoned Abraham Lincoln’s words, his defiant strength, his last hurrah.

The Emancipation Proclamation massaged by my inexperience and ignorance of the past [a historian’s obsession] generated a document-specific transformative circumstance whereby my historical countenance and consciousness blossomed as if Emily Dickinson had done the planting [http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/30/arts/design/30dickinson.html]

Lincoln lulled me into a just and fervent patriotism; whereby my life’s emergence from 7th grade onward was shaped by this universally applicable Republican:


We need another e_mancipation.

Let’s dig in; let’s reach into ourselves; let’s begin thinking about the Other; let’s get in the habit of being considerate [again]. Let’s resume the posture; not of Pontius Pilate or of the Roman Army, authorized to terrorize. Rather, let us endeavor to strike a pose, with our movements synchronized toward confessing to our confessor this non-negotiable: To withdraw so completely as to be absent; our Blackberry, iPhone, Droid or Palm Pre our chief distraction is to admit to our slavery, our defeated selves — flush with the world’s wealth @ our fingertips, while embracing blind revelations downloaded @ speeds we cannot comprehend alone.

During our occupation of climate-controlled dwellings; where we arrive with vehicles emitting consequences we count by carbon increments, crazily dependent — let’s get distracted by the length of time required to look our neighbor, our colleagues in the eye and plunge into her/his reservoir of ‘knowing.’

There is a seat @ the table; the empty chair ought not be our empty concern but our strident daring to know the Other.

“On the far side of the subjective, on this side of the objective, on the narrow ridge, where I and Thou meet, there is the realm of ‘between.’ [Martin Buber, Between Man and Man]

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