Thursday, August 7, 2014

Dirty Thirties

It is great being home on vacation! Apart from renewing old friendships, making new ones and seeing how much the younger nieces and nephews have grown since last year, it truly becomes a time of reminiscing and retracing roots. Although my parents were young children in the hard times of the 1930's here in the Upper Midwest of the US, putting me a full generation away from the ecological disaster which was the Dustbowl, invariably reminiscing touches indirectly on the period by recalling family which fled west from that cataclysm in hopes of finding the wherewithal to survive. Most everyone has a shirttail relation in California, Washington or Oregon.

In many cases those economic refugees, because of the proximity in time to parents and grandparents who had settled on the prairie having turned their backs on tough times in the Old Country,  hadn't really been on this treeless land all that long. You might say they were just continuing a journey in stages, not unlike Israel's 40 years of wandering in the desert. Established ourselves, we can hardly relate to the fragility of human existence, which made our grandparents especially so terribly frugal.

I bring this up simply as an aid to my own understanding of why so much of the tragedy of both the Middle East and of Ukraine just passes right over people's heads today. A young journalist friend in particular comes to mind. He seemed indeed puzzled when in a recent interview I gave to Vatican Radio, I spoke of as life threatening for the minority Catholic Church in Ukraine the destabilization provoked by Russian aggression. Not only he perhaps fails to grasp the menace. Shooting down a passenger plane to make a point goes far beyond saber rattling. Lots of older people I know would comprehend immediately, as far as family goes, the implications of such a menace for life and family, and hence for the Church. While wishing no one the tenuous existence of the 30's, I feel stymied by the incomprehension of those who have never been or even felt endangered. In the Dustbowl days some headed west, while others remained on the land, but everyone suffered.

In medicine, you can have a doctor who is a great surgeon and another who is a great diognostician. If you cannot have your cake and eat it too, I guess I would prefer the diagnostician. For Ukraine with the renewed buildup of Russian troops along the Ukrainian border, the worst case scenario news articles are legion. They are easily dismissed, but the suffering in the war zone, the displaced population, the dead cannot so be dismissed. Destabilization: how many young parents are agonizing over whether they should press their children to "go west", perhaps before it is too late.

I stand by my assertion that at present the Catholic Church has been put at risk by an outside aggressor, who seems to care little for the families of that land. The great mystery of Divine Providence forbids us to lose hope, confident as we are of the love Whose Face we have seen in Christ, but it is sort of like King David choosing his punishment for the sin of having counted the people. He chose not to be delivered up to his enemies. Please, pray with me that Ukraine be spared from the hands of men as well. Joseph was able to understand that his brothers' selling him into slavery in Egypt was to be the ransome of his people. May the Name of The Lord be praised!

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