our ground time here will be brief

End of year, with its ups and its downs. I think about the people who have passed, a few I know, most I don’t. Today I heard about a terrible event: family of four driving to Boise slid into a multi-car crash. Mom, Dad, and older sister die, 17-year-old younger sister in stable condition. What kind of condition will her life be? And today, Benazir Bhutto, the Pakistani opposition leader, assassinated. My heart sank. She was no saint, but she was about the best hope for that twisted nation.

And the rest of us here, how should we live? Is there any counsel to be gotten from these traditions of faith that we’re dazily celebrating now? I take counsel from the Jewish command to heal the world, and I’m beginning to think there’s some good counsel in love. Let’s love family, neighbors, and strangers. Tikkun olam. Agape. I’m not sure whether these imperatives are two or one.

[title of this blog post borrowed from a poem by the poet Maxine Kumin]

By Noelle McAfee

I am professor of philosophy at Emory University and editor of the Kettering Review. My latest book, Fear of Breakdown: Politics and Psychoanalysis, explores what is behind the upsurge of virulent nationalism and intransigent politics across the world today. My other writings include Democracy and the Political Unconscious; Habermas, Kristeva, and Citizenship; Julia Kristeva; and numerous articles and book chapters. Edited volumes include Standing with the Public: the Humanities and Democratic Practice and a special issue of the philosophy journal Hypatia on feminist engagements in democratic theory. I am also the author of the entry on feminist political philosophy in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and well into my next book project on democratic public life.