HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » General Discussion (Forum) » "The Second Birth"

Thu Apr 8, 2021, 05:00 PM

"The Second Birth"

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
- W. B. Yeats, The Second Coming, 1919

A century later, Yeats' finest work still holds. Yet, with another horrible shooting being reported in the news and Derek Chauvinst's murder trial playing on live television, we see that our society's center is not holding. What might we make of Yeats' poem in our current context?

The poem is more than a modern twist on the ancient allegories of the religion that had just finished World War One in Europe. A revolution was brewing in Ireland. And, perhaps too often forgotten, Yeats was influenced by the flu pandemic of 1918-19, which was threatening the life of his pregnant wife as he penned the poem's haunting lines.

Might we consider if we are again at a time of extremes in both human violence and the reality of the microscopic virus?

Rather than the image of a falcon turning in widening gyre, let's consider a different model. Frequently over the years I've posted on this forum, I've used the model of a mobile hanging over an infant's crib to illustrate the dynamics of a family system or other relatively small group. Since we are looking at the United States, let's expand that model to that of our solar system.

As the center -- those core social values that people express, if not live up to -- begins to lose its gravitational force, we witness an increase in marginalized, angry individuals like the young man in DC who killed a police officer after ramming his car into a barricade -- become either meteors that burn out before striking our planet, or meteorites that cause a crash. We are in a shower as we speak, though it is difficult to predict exactly when and where the next one collides with civil society. However, if we walk the halls of any school across the nation, we may encounter potential meteors and meteorites.

Within larger structures -- including the republican party, which I cannot in good faith call a "heavenly body" -- we see levels of turbulence that can only and will always result in what appears to start off as organized destruction. It is "organized" in the sense that sociologists identify the pattern it will follow.

Since the Civil War, for example, clusters of white nationalists tend to be visible when there is a "conservative" in office, yet their numbers increase at a greater rate when there is a "liberal" in office. Frequently, that growth involves disaffected young men with an eternal locus of control, answering the call of the gym coach figure to strike out violently for the team. And like the meteorites, they have access to firearms.

The gym coach tends to be an older man, often with a military and/or law enforcement background. His inner cowardice has matured to the point where he only threatens violence when his opponent is out-numbered -- think January 6 -- or may be the type to plant explosives in, say, the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, or the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Their names change over the decades, but the lack of character remains constant.

There has long been a romance between the modern republican party and the unstable, authoritarian racist right in America. The "established" republican leadership, including repulsive figures from Patrick Buchanan to Newt Gingrich, believed that they could capitalize upon the right-wing's paranoia, and welcomed the unhinged into their party. Today, as we have all seen, the extremists have become the establishment of their party, and has spawned the likes of Matt Gaetz.

This is not to imply that everything is gloom and doom. The current Department of Justice appears to recognize the very real dangers that the malignant white nationalists pose. For once, we are seeing good law enforcement officials testifying that George Floyd's death was the result of a thug with a badge. And few things are as entertaining as the recent reports on Matt Gaetz's crimes.

More, I remember while working with Onondaga Chief Paul Waterman, a Clan Mother saying that when the world is spinning out of control, we should seek to center ourselves. As more of us do this, the larger center of society will stabilize. I suppose that we all have individual ways of doing so ...... in my case, it comes from sitting quietly in the natural world, gardening, interacting with my animals, and listening to good music. And there are small group activities that, as we get the vaccine, will be more available for centering.

While ugly episodes of extreme violence are likely to increase, most of us are far more likely to see reports on them in the media, rather than being a direct victim. More, we are more likely to experience the toxic behaviors of Trump cult members in public places such as grocery stores and parking lots, that while unsettling, do not result in physical violence. Indeed, we are probably more likely to see the very pathetic breed of tiny authoritarian males who pretend to be police officers, until caught.

H2O Man

Note: "The Second Birth" was the working title of the poem as Yeats was writing it.

4 replies, 704 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 4 replies Author Time Post
Reply "The Second Birth" (Original post)
H2O Man Apr 8 OP
pwb Apr 8 #1
H2O Man Apr 8 #2
Saoirse9 Apr 9 #3
H2O Man Apr 9 #4

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu Apr 8, 2021, 05:27 PM

1. Putin in my opinion is a big part of the world division and

he has been at it for a long time. Putin and Republicans and Satan himself with this Virus have formed up against us. It was hard to escape their program but we are on to them now and going forward. Sometimes I am glad my forward is short.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to pwb (Reply #1)

Thu Apr 8, 2021, 06:14 PM

2. I agree 100%

Putin is a dangerous thug. And he and his associates have been stirring the pot of rage in our country for years. And he and his ilk are a clear and present danger around the globe.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Apr 9, 2021, 02:08 PM

3. Never thought I would see the day

That this country would embrace violence and racism so openly.

We're damn lucky that Biden won, but boy does he have a long slog ahead of him to rebuild the country.

Thanks for your thoughtful essay H. I remember what Lennon said about peace --

"Get out there and get peace, think peace, and live peace and breathe peace, and you'll get it as soon as you like."

That seems like a cliche but that's partly what we need to do. No matter how violently they protest the downfall of their party we all just have to concentrate on peace in our own hearts. Otherwise they've won.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to Saoirse9 (Reply #3)

Fri Apr 9, 2021, 02:14 PM

4. Well said!

I agree 100%.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread