"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

What are your foundations?

I grew up where foundations lasted longer than the people who made them. Never much thought about it, just took them for granted.

Some of the ruins, and foundations, of the Pecos Pueblo, east of Santa Fe
In the arid Southwest, especially New Mexico, we'd visit Indian ruins where you could see the crumbling rock walls of buildings set in place hundreds of years before. The climate helps preserve them. In more recent times, I've camped at Chaco Canyon http://www.nps.gov/chcu/index.htm  amid ruins at least 1,000 years ago.

I came across this photo of the ruins at Pecos. http://www.nps.gov/peco/index.htm I always wondered about the people who lived in those rooms so long ago, and I wonder more now about the people who put those stones together. I wonder what they thought, how they talked, how they lived. I know they had a different sense of time than us, that they were tougher than us without electricity or central heat, or running water.

Yet they put in place stones and foundations that outlasted them, and will outlast us. Some would call it primitive, but it was not. Much, especially the Anasazi, was precise and oriented with the heavens.

Ruins at Chaco Canyon, New Mexico
Started me thinking about foundations in humid Oklahoma and Texas, where I've seen rotted or termite -eaten boards sitting on the ground, and crumbling concrete or concrete blocks serving as foundations sinking into moist earth.

Archaeological digs on the east coast can barely recover traces of early white settlement...the foundations are gone, sometimes no more than mounds of earth.

Have you lived in a house where the foundation cracks, or sinks, or decays? Then you  get bugs and rot and slugs in the house. We're luck today we have building codes---yes it costs more, but at least, especially with slab floors, there are standards to prevent foundation decay.

But other foundations are crumbling...personal, social, and political, in this country and elsewhere. Religious and political turmoil here at home are common with others around the world.  I know...I disagree with many of my kinfolk, and as long as we can respect each other and still disagree, but even argue--we're ok. But when we can't the foundations of our country crumble, as they are now

The foundations of civility in disagreement, of compromise for  the common good, of listening to people.

I'm reading Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum's book "This Used to Be Us," http://www.thomaslfriedman.com/bookshelf/that-used-to-be-us about how America fell behind in the world we invented.

They essentially say the same thing...the foundations are crumbling.

I'm reminded of the foundations I grew up with, especially from my East Texas  mother...love your family, care for your family, be respectful of others, hear them out, look them in the eye, don't be rude, have manners, be polite, say "Yes Sir" and "Yes ma'am," don't hate.

I started thinking about this during the reunion of first Culp cousins last April in East Texas. We have many differences, but solid foundations. I know personally, that when I've strayed from those foundations, or neglected them, or ignored them my life has suffered.

Sounds like stuff from the Sermon on the Mount, doesn't it?  It really bothers me that many of these people preaching hate and discrimination and violence today claim to be Christians. They need to read the foundations--Matt. 5-7.

But this isn't about just politics or religion, it's about every foundation we have. If we're civilized, we keep our foundations strong and build on them. then they'll last. Every stone has a place, every stone contributes to the whole. Damage one, and all suffer.

And if we don't--a century ago, England was the  world's  greatest nation and civilization. It's not today. All foundations can  rot and crumble and disappear...and an arid climate won't sustain them.

1 comment:

  1. In response to your query about "Christians preaching hate," many people unfortunately embrace a black and white view of reality. Their specific religious beliefs are the right ones, which by default means everyone else's views are in error. The only way for them to correct this problem is to eradicate all other views which don't conform to their own. Hence, one group of Christians might try to enforce their beliefs upon the whole society through fiat, violence (in previous generations), or other forms of coercion/intimidation.

    ReplyDelete