Three months ago, I decided to suspend my weekly blog posts to concentrate on an original musical, Happily After Ever, that I was co-producing. A successful run that featured four “workshop” performances has ended and so I have returned to my original pattern, weaving together three strands of a braid: personal anecdotes, reflections on ancient texts and commentary on current events. At the end of July, I cited a few pressing headlines and wondered how they would evolve after a three-month hiatus:
The Presidential primary season will have begun in earnest I said. Well, yes—and while some things have evolved (both Mike Pence and Tim Scott have dropped out of the race), not much seems to have changed as Donald Trump continues to lead by a wide margin.
The heat will have abated (please, God!) and we’ll see how these extraordinary temperatures impact the climate crisis. It WAS the hottest summer on record and while the oppressive heat has subsided, wild weather (and threats of wild weather to come) have not. A recent report in the medical journal The Lancet reveals how climate change is not just an annoying or inconvenient phenomenon but has had a dramatic impact on human health.
Donald Trump’s legal battles will continue… and they continue and continue and continue. His defiance grows with each new day while his poll numbers increase. Recently, the dangerous threat to our democracy is scary as recently revealed in his projected plan for immigration reform should he be re-elected. [Look for further commentary on this plan in the weeks to come].
Unless there is a major breakthrough, the war in Ukraine will tragically grind on… The news from Ukraine has been eclipsed by the war between Israel and Hamas and the threat of a widening war in the Middle East. Yet, the stakes remain high—an autocratic tyrant has invaded a sovereign nation, imposing a scorched earth policy on an entire population. Yet the courage and perseverance of the Ukrainian people continues to astonish.
And then, there was this seemingly innocuous forecast: not to mention, unexpected surprises around the globe that seem to happen all-too-often. All predictions pale in comparison to this simple statement. With the horrific attack on Israelis by Hamas, the relentless response on Gazan by Israel, the troubling rise of incidents of antisemitism and Islamophobia in the US and around the world, this age-old conflict again takes center stage as we confront the challenge of what it means to be an advocate for peace with justice in our complex and interrelated world.
In resuming the three “content strands” mentioned at the beginning of this post, I return to a very personal experience. I spent the final days of my “sabbatical” battling Covid. Unbeknownst to my wife Blythe and I, when we got vaccinated for Covid on October 20, we already had the virus but were asymptomatic. This “double whammy” exacerbated our symptoms (we are still testing positive after more than three weeks). We spent several days in bed and were unable to attend the final performances of our show.
After working on the play for more than four years, this was profoundly disappointing on a personal level. But what happened was a valuable lesson in life: when forced to totally step aside and give over production of the play to the company we had gathered, each individual—one after another—stepped up beautifully and presented what many reported to be the very best performances. The play’s message had tightened and its impact had grown as it moved deeper into its run. Which is exactly as it should be.