Reflections on 'A tug-of-war for democracy'
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Doesn’t it seem that you’re always either too close or too far away from something to truly see it clearly? (Photo by Fernando Lavin on Unsplash)
Presbyopia has nothing to do with the Protestant denomination founded by John Calvin, though I’m afflicted by a history of that, too, for what it’s worth. But I’m talking here about the age-related eyesight disorder that makes it hard to focus on what’s too close to me. It’s an insult atop injury, I’d say, since I’ve been wearing glasses or contact lenses for myopia since I was six years old. I seem to have multiple opias nowadays. Opiae?
So I would appreciate some sympathy, please, for the fact that I’ve reached the age at which nothing is perfectly clear to me anymore. And now I’m not talking about eyesight, but rather about the view we all have of the world.
That is, it’s hard to be sure of what is true and right because you’re either too close to a situation or too far away: If you’re close, you lose focus and the perspective that distance brings, but if you get that distance, you can’t pick up the details that emerge only if you’re in the middle of things. So you just never know.
This dilemma comes to mind because the column I offered you last weekend, “A tug-of-war for democracy,” relied upon some events of recent American history to explain how we got to the political mess of today. And that calls for some humility, because history is a slippery thing.