Greater Debates

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Three Islands – Acrylic and house paint on stained particle board. Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso.

Two small islands

in the Taiwan Strait

of the South China Sea

another island much bigger

in a much smaller sea

south of Miami

in the last days of

a once great General

and the beginnings

of a new frontier.

 

Over the television

grey-colored men

blurry at the edges

in full learned tilt

on large and small ideas

without embarrassment

without walking around the podium

or the query

without worry of a Luddite backlash

in the days when we were unafraid

of erudition.

 

When intellectual curiosity

was a virtue

conversant candidates

posed no threat

to the sensibilities of the heartland

or two small islands in the Far East

 

The nation’s tasks were far-flung

complex

and without easy answers.

Scholarly  statements

and esoteric enjoinders

about obscure strategic atolls

were a blessing.

All the fathers and mothers

of the burgeoning nation

sent their kids to school each day

to read lessons

to read Emerson

and to know this.

 

Perhaps the fathers and mothers

of the men at the podiums

beamed that day

at their sons’ consideration

of the two small islands

in the Taiwan Strait

and the other island much bigger

in a much smaller sea –

where not much later

one of those sons

would be twice tested

once failing

and later prevailing

not just over an adversary

but over philosophical sophistry

by means of wisdom gained

and later tempered

by the mind’s integrity.

 

In the days when intellectual curiosity

was a virtue

It was as if Emerson

had helped save the world.

 

Danny Grosso

 

 

 

 

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