Monday, June 22, 2015

Tipping points

And so summer has begun.

Last evening, I sat on my porch, enjoying the long Summer Solstice evening. We had lots of rain over the weekend, but a fresh breeze had blown most of the clouds out to sea, and the sky gradually cleared. The evening light became blue and luminous, and all the songbirds perked up again after the rain and began to fill the air with song. There's one bird, whose song I can't identify, who sings most loudly and beautifully just as dusk falls. It's his last song of the day, and I suppose he wants to finish with a flourish.

I sat on and on, till it was almost fully dark, at about 9:30 at our latitude. It's funny how one's vision changes as the light decreases: as the sky fades, the dark forms of the trees across the road become abstract, black shapes, and the distance seems foreshortened, as if they are perching on the edge of my lawn. Perspective is lost.

It's the seasonal tipping point, of course, which is why I treasure this evening and try to observe it. On this day of longest light, the earth's northern hemisphere begins to tip backwards away from the sun again; the days will oh-so-gradually grow ever shorter now, even as the summer's heat increases. By the end of August, there will be a really perceptible difference in the length of the day. And by the end of September, the night will be longer again than the day.

So that's it -- even in the midst of heat and rampant growth (mainly weeds, in my case), the earth is preparing for autumn and winter. Nature is a process, constantly working, even when we are unaware of her having passed her tipping point.

Lots of things have tipping points. Where is the tipping point for our American society? How many people have to die, while they are doing bible study at their church in Charleston, while they are watching a movie in Colorado, while they are attending school in Connecticut, before we understand that it is madness to live this way, surrounded by guns?

We are the laughingstock of the world. We are barbarians. We have sacrificed our civilization on the altar of the (misinterpreted) Second Amendment. Individualism above all! We're Americans! We shoot things! Animals, birds, people. The NRA is king here.

We have completely lost all perspective, as I did last night in the dusk. How many innocent people will die before we reach the tipping point? I pray we reach it very soon.

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