But in spite of the loveliness of this month, the real heartache this October is to view and hear about the evil and heinous deeds occurring in Israel and elsewhere as seen on television. When I was standing in a classroom in Haverford, PA, in 1967, I heard from my mostly Jewish students that Israel had declared war. This was before everyone had phones or the internet. Class discussions that day were edgy, and my students were restless. When we got home and listened to the radio and television, we learned more. It turned out to be known as the Six Day War. I don’t recall heinous savage acts being committed against civilians, women, children, or babies. That war was a military war and it was over the matter of territory and land. Today, we are horrified by the brutality displayed during this war. It makes us nervous and unsure about our freedoms. Will we remember this year, this beautiful October, as another Six Day War or will it drag on and on? Aren’t we almost immune to the daily news about Ukraine and Russia? Remember Vietnam and how that war televised for many Americans the horrors of “real” war? It turned our country into a nation divided.
When I lament these global disasters, I try to remember the reason we think other times as more peaceful. We weren’t privileged to see or hear news 24 hours a day. We had three networks. We heard the news in the evening. Generally we considered our world to be our communities or our state. Who would have known of an earthquake half way around the world? Who would have been aware that someone was murdered in some terrible misunderstanding perhaps eight states away from home? Who would consider the scandals or politics of people in “high places” when we didn’t even know they were occurring? That’s why we felt safer. Perhaps ignorance is bliss? Was it? Is it?
The English poet Wordsworth in the early decade of the 19th century wrote, “The world is too much with is.” He was expressing how the industrial revolution was eroding man’s relationship with nature, and making materialism the aim of the day. He was angry, tired, and despairing. Even so, he wrote peaceful and uplifting poems. Consider his “It is a Beauteous Evening, Calm and Free.” We must, in this month of autumn, not allow the rage of war to erode our ability to see beauty around us. As my good neighbor Dean (now deceased) used to console me, “God is still in control of the universe.”