Trivial pursuit

I have note pads all over my house. I’ve taken to writing down ideas for columns as I read, listen to the radio, talk about current affairs. I even keep paper and pen by my bed. Sometimes there is a long list of possibilities. Other times, there are none at all. Some weeks, in spite of a long list of topics and ideas, none of them rise to the top of the list.

This week, I considered writing about the masses of refugees fleeing from war in Syria and seeking safety across Europe. More than 9 million people have left their homes in Syria because of the ongoing civil war in their homeland. At least 2.5 million people have left the country while another 6.5 million are displaced within their own country. The horror of the plight of refugees fleeing for their lives became graphically clear with the pictures of the bodies of tiny children washed up on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea after the boats they were aboard sank or were capsized.

At the same time, letters to the editor of the Grand Forks Herald criticized Lutheran Social Services refugee resettlement work in North Dakota.

The subject simply overwhelmed me and I could not yet write about it.

I participated in a Bible study with a group of my favorite women about Sabbaths and keeping the Sabbath as directed by the Ten Commandments. I need to do more thinking about that one. My husband and I usually take a day off from our daily routine, no matter what the season. Does that mean everyone’s Sabbath should look like ours? How do we deal with our own feelings of neglecting what needs to be done while we’re “resting?” Our culture values productivity and a strong work ethic. Do we need to justify our not working one day a week?

I have many ambivalent feelings about that one.

One of my brief notes referred to the controversy created when a Clerk of Court in Kentucky refused to issue marriage certificates to same sex couples because it conflicts with her understanding of the Bible. Not only did she refuse to sign the documents, she did not allow any of her staff to issue the certificates either. She was held in contempt of court and spent time in jail. I think she has the right to her religious beliefs and she has the right to act on those beliefs. The appropriate action on her part would have been to resign from her elected position since she felt she could not perform her duties. Her right to religious freedom does not trump the right of others to marry, a right that has been upheld by the Supreme Court. I wonder if she just didn’t get carried away by the possibility of becoming the story of the week. It must be exciting to have presidential candidates offering to do your jail time for you. The whole thing has the appearance of a media event.

I doubt anything I can say about that subject will change anyone’s mind. No, I’m not going to write any more about that.

It’s a bit too early to spend much time on the politics of the next presidential campaign. The whole field of candidates and the issues being discussed will have changed by next year. I’ll think about that later.

Queen Elizabeth has become England’s longest reigning monarch. I suppose it is an accomplishment not to have been overthrown and to have remained alive for such a long time. I’ll have to try to keep that piece of trivia in mind for some future crossword puzzle.

I just wrote about global warming. I’m tired of reading about economics and the subject is becoming too depressing. I don’t keep track of what movie stars and music celebrities are up to or who is dating whom, who is getting a divorce or who showing a baby bump.

So those are some of the things I’m not going to write about this week.

Did you see the northern lights on Monday night? Wow. It was worth a late night hike away from the yard light to the other side of the trees. The universe is an amazing place.

In the light of a few million stars, so much of what occupies our time, steals our energy and uses up our emotion seems like a trivial pursuit.
Copyright © 2015 Janet Jacobson and Sustaining the Northern Plains


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