The Sprang of Spring

Harry Drabik

Depending where you live along the Shore last Sunday was either unremarkable or a nuclear winter snow bomb. The few fore noon hours dropped near nine inches outside the door. I knew what I’d be doing as a result. Later in the day I heard people complain they’d already put their snow shovels away. Such an otherwise innocent comment is an admission of guilt. Seasoned locals know better than temp fate and nature to ever put the shovel away before July Fourth; the one and only day of summer you can count on nine out of ten. Wiser heads simply leave the shovels where they’ve been in the snowy months. Why move them any more than put away the parkas hanging at the back door. Instinct tells us that putting those things away one week does not mean they won’t be needed the next. Up here you can just about count on it.

I doubt it’s at all unusual or unexpected for any culture rising from a peasant background to not take special note of spring. Traditional celebration of the time of rebirth and regeneration from ancient times fits neatly with the Christian Era theme of resurrection and rebirth. If you stop and reflect (not a bad habit and one some are in bad need to practice) two of the more important and generally celebrated times on our calendar recognize a birth (Christmas) and rebirth (Easter).This seems to me a bit more humanist and forward looking (birth and rebirth do look to the future) than a cultural holiday focused on a great battle of the past or a notable death. There is no social guarantee of successful forward looking, but having that pattern is likely to offer opportunities and a vision you’ll not find if the focus is on the past.

This habit of not over dwelling on the past shows even in places it might not otherwise be such as July 4. Do we dwell then on a specific battle or recount the number of lives lost or sacrificed in the contest for liberty? You know the answer. The US tradition celebrates with fireworks and parades the victory not so much of armies but of liberty itself. Every year some gentle spirits rise to complain the Fourth is too militaristic. But you know, if your opponent was an army intent on keeping people subservient to a distant authority there probably wasn’t much choice but military. It’s a nice thought, folks, but repression isn’t halted by handing out cookies.

I know good and sincere people who say in all earnestness we have to try harder. OK, forget the cookies. Do you think the result would be different if we sent angel food cakes to terrorists or better yet cherry pies? Local bakers might appreciate the extra work, but as a practical thing even a major cake and pie distribution model wouldn’t be likely stop a single suicide bomber. But I will concede the possibility of a little angel chiffon or cherry goo amid the splatter. A noble ideal without practical implementation is ineffective, like fighting unwanted teenage pregnancy with a program of abstinence only. (Abstinence is a tactic as loved by makers of diapers as it is hated by the manufacturer of Durex.)  A current twist on thinking good thoughts as a solution has come up with the notion that changing the name Easter Egg to Spring Egg will promote peace by being less religiously offensive. The fertility and fecundity of useless ideas is truly impressive with Spring Egg way out front as silliness on steroids. Normal silliness is plain old dumb. But when put on steroids it becomes harmful in itself in addition to taking time and attention from more useful avenues of action. An Easter Egg is not the problem. The dogmatic absolutism and religious supremacism that holds terror as a worthy act is the problem. People who do not understand that distinction or who make excuses for it are beyond any help I can offer. The measure of not knowing plunges deeper than any sea.

More important than Easter Eggs and chocolate bunnies is one of the spin off side benefits of observing a celebration of resurrection or rebirth. Rebirth is a second chance. The American slant on that tradition included the idea of a better first start by limiting the furtherance of a class system. We’d not have a noble class or caste system, and on top of that upheld a new tradition of self-determination not preset by cultural convention or presumed godly design. An American had a shot at setting his (and eventually her) future according to whatever lines best suited them. And because your “fate” was not bound to a religious pattern you were free to change and diverge as possible. This was and is different from other systems so it is no surprise we were and are hated for placing liberty, independence, and self-determination before holy writ. In my mind there is literally no cause to wonder why theocratic belief runs counter to ours and that we and any form of western democracy is so feared that the followers of  other ways need to kill free journalists or blow us up in terminals as a way to bully our kind into what they call “respect” but in practice means submission to religious authority that just happens to be the dogma they are stuck with and cannot change unless they want execution or to be blown up for not wholly agreeing with the authority they are told is, was, and ever will be divine. There is a decided lack of dialog and second chance when the argument employed goes boom in a public place.

My snowbound musing on politic and faith recalled early Christian communities as communal, basics shared among them according to need. It sounds quite socialistic, but possible in small communes where people know one another. Modern socialism tends to want others to do the sharing following the view that they’d be happier having some or more of what you’ve got.