Alan Chartock | I, Publius: In troubling times, we draw strength from spirituality

GREAT BARRINGTON — The Berkshires have come alive. Right outside our back door, a papa and mama dove have taken possession of last years' robin's nest.

Mama sits there while papa protects the nest and flies at anyone who comes too close. It is just wonderful.

The baby animals are something to behold at the Hancock Shaker Village. So with the warm sun and the kids on bikes and the gardening and the smell of burning brush, we have all been born anew as we are every year.

Our religions have all welcomed the spring in their own way. Jews celebrate the Passover and I never fail to think after a difficult year like this one that we are all spending 40 years in the desert. Christians celebrate Easter and the resurrection of Jesus.

The arts continue to flourish. Tanglewood, the greatest musical venue in the world, is announcing its musical schedule. They are brilliantly bringing on the best in classical music and the best popular music that most of us of a certain age can bring our children to.

But there is some dissonance. In fact, this has been the worst political year that anyone can remember. There is a really dangerous man in the White House. No one can figure out how our great country could have done this to itself.

Just as the great religions of the world celebrate the rebirth of spring, the heat is on as the president of the United States has figured out that when you drop a bomb on Syria and your popularity goes up 6 points, you have made a really important discovery. Trust me, the guy is thinking, "I'll have another portion of that."

Here in the Berkshires we see heroes emerging; going door to door to make sure that people who have been essential to the functioning of our towns and villages understand that we at the local level can make a difference and that we can resist. People are gathering in small groups, trying to figure out how they can stop the Trump insanity.

In Great Barrington, an important ballot proposition is designed to make it clear that the very people who have been the infrastructure of the town will not have to live in fear of their lives. These are our friends and neighbors.

During the Nazi Holocaust, great heroes arose to take Jews and other threatened people into their homes at a time when to be discovered would have meant certain execution. If you haven't been to see "The Zookeeper's Wife" or read Edith Velmans' incredible "Edith's Story," I recommend that you do so now.

I've been thinking — would any of us risk all by hiding someone in fear of their life? Would we face imprisonment or far worse by keeping someone in our homes when the FBI our the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was after them?

What would you say when people in black suits showed up at your door with handcuffs hanging from their belts? Would you, knowing that lying to the FBI or the police was itself a felony, well, lie?

It really is one thing to read of the heroism of others but when the time comes, who would be prepared to take the ultimate risk? Would our neighbors turn us in to the authorities just as so many Germans did during the World War II?

What, you don't see the parallels? I often hear from a good American who takes great exception to some of the things I write. He calls me all kinds of names. You don't think a guy like that would rat me out to the authorities? Yes, I'm sad to say he would do that in a New York minute.

So spring has sprung and we have a lot to think about. What would Jesus or Moses tell us to do?

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.


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