Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A riot remembered: some dates never forgotten

"It's February 2nd." The observation comes in our house every year. It was the longest and heaviest of the air raids on Wiesbaden. Annelie has long since worked through the immediacy and intensity, and remembering is normal. A related issue, nonetheless, lies in that sometimes that immediacy has been ground into grandchildren and they have internalized not only that, but the resultant anxiety, rage, and alienation. That seems to have happened when we think of the Armenians and Turks - so long ago and still so now - but that remains to be thought through for another blog.

What matters now - although it likely relates to what we have just been considering - are those protests and killings in Egypt. It is sobering to think about it, but fifty years from now someone will b writing up today's consequences in the same context we are using for this blog.

Remembering back to the "Berkeley riots" in the Viet Nam years as these reports from Cairo come in, a lot of us have thoughts about the role of the police in riots. I do not recall anything other than respect for the Berkeley police. It was anything but the talk began about the sheriff's department from Oakland. All of us can recall the fallout about some New Orleans police during and after Hurricane Katria.

A few years ago there was some occasion here for fist waving between a couple of groups. It began to sound like the tornado warning system going off. As I recollect it, the sheriff - who I respected and admired - showed up with about a hundred deputies. They were in lock step, no riot gear, and every shoe shined. The discourse got civil.

Currently, in the morning before I open the computer, I read a little scripture. I say, "little" because more and more I spend the same amount of time, I just ponder more. I have been reading - no surprise -in Acts about the riots Paul experienced. They were many and varied, but during Paul's lifetime the Emperor Claudius issued a proclamation about the rights of a Roman citizen. When things got testy, Paul would announce, "I am a Roman citizen." That concentrated the mind of the local authorities immediately.

There is a lot to write about, pro and con, about the Roman Empire and its spread over their known world. It should give us pause to reflect, however, that we probably would not be debating the meaning of "Christian" had the Empire not existed at that particular juncture of history.

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