This Sunday morning, I walked outside, early, to let my two Boston terriers do their business. I thought myself still groggy, as the two huge Linden trees that loom like sentinels in front of the house, whispered in the humid stillness. What was that noise? Wind through the powerlines? Some distant motor humming uncontested? Then I noticed the ground, covered with layers of pollen (and a hole, where a pesky gopher has determined to disturb my renewed flowerbed), on the walk. And looking up into the Lindens, past the rich, thick layers of branches and leaves, there it was. Hundreds (and I speaking modestly, there were likely thousands) of buzzing bees, busy at work, spreading the life blood of plants. At first fearful (would they attack me, like some alien in Independence Day II), I watched them. I was but a spot, a fleck on their world. They were in charge, and the noise that spilled out into the world, my world, became a wonder.
Events matter. This week, and last, we have seen Trump attack a sitting judge in a civil case that in the larger scheme of things seems unimportant. We have seen the slow trickle of Freedom of Information emails from Hilary's server, including at least one specifically and clearly marked "C"- confidential, destroying her central claim about sending or receiving confidential secrets. And last night, we saw the mass murder in Orlando, at the gay nightclub Pulse, where a person with "Islamic tendencies" (whatever that means), took his hatred and murder out on Americans. On American soil.
The larger point is being missed. Americans are not dolts, despite what the parties and their sycophantic advisers profess. Across this country people feel uneasy, their reality at odds with the imagined commercials of the politicians trying to make us believe what we know not true.
And the heroes pass by us, gone from the scene, as if they never were. Muhammad Ali bragged and boasted his way into the ring, then took care of business. But when he was called on to put up or shut up, to follow his views about Vietnam, he did exactly that. Disagreement with his views is an American right, but aren't we tired of the people who are all hat and no cattle. (Yes, a western, cattle-raising metaphor). And Gordie Howe, who played immaculate, rough hewn hockey into his fifties (in part so he could skate with his own kids), lived his life after sport, like Ali, in simple, direct, uncomplicated honesty.
The reason we celebrate these heroes is not because they they are so great, so unusual, but because they remind us all of what we believe we once were, of what we want to become.
American ideals didn't make them, those two, and untold numbers of other men and women, laboring simply in their own pollen, buzzing endlessly on. American ideals didn't make them, they made those ideals.
Events matter, and in the buzzing that surprises us, a new awakening is due. Long past due.