A Cosmic Camp-Out

We knew we were in for a treat this weekend, with the Snow Moon at its zenith on Saturday night. But we weren’t prepared for the celestial show that awaited us. On Friday and Saturday, we witnessed spectacular sunsets and moonrises, as well as moonsets and sunrises — all from our new favorite perch overlooking Joe Pool Lake. It ended up being a cosmic camp-out, thanks to clear skies and mild temperatures.

The Snow Moon is named not so much for its brightness but because of the snow that often blankets much of the northern hemisphere at this time of year. Some Native American tribes named it the Hunger Moon because of the scarce food sources and hard hunting conditions during mid-winter. Regardless, it was spectacularly bright. To give you some idea, we typically use flashlights while walking the dogs after dark, but not this weekend.

We altered Friday’s Date Night dinner routine to include the Democrats’ debate ahead of the New Hampshire primaries. We’ve always watched these events, whether Democrat or Republican, because we want to be informed by first-hand knowledge and personal observation rather than by political pundits and sound bites. Like many others, we thought Sen. Amy Klobuchar had the strongest performance, particularly in her memorable closing statement:

There’s an old story about Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and when he died, his body was put on a train that went across America. There was a guy standing by those tracks, along with so many other Americans. He had his hat on his chest and he was sobbing. A reporter said, ‘Sir, did you know the president?’ And the guy said, ‘No, I didn’t know the president. But he knew me.’ I will tell you this: there’s a complete lack of empathy with this guy in the White House right now. I will bring that to you. If you have trouble stretching your paycheck to pay for that rent, I know you, and I will fight for you. If you have trouble deciding if you should pay for your child care or your long-term care, I know you, and I will fight for you. If you have trouble figuring out whether to fill your refrigerator or fill your prescription drug, I know you, and I will fight for you. I do not have the biggest name up on this stage. I don’t have the biggest bank account. I’m not a political newcomer with no record. But I have a record of fighting for people. I’m asking you to believe that someone who totally believes in America can win this, because if you are tired of the extremes in our politics and the noise and the nonsense, you have a home with me.

Empathy.

Former Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey identified empathy as a particularly important leadership quality because it connects leaders and those who follow them. “It is the clearest indicator of genuine respect and compassion,” he said. “It reinforces that everyone matters.”

It is the lack of empathy — across the political spectrum and at every level of society — that we find so troubling today. It is the utter unwillingness to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes (a reference to the 1970 song by Joe South about racial tolerance and the need for perspective and compassion — unfortunately, not much has changed since then) that so bothers us.

In advance of the Oscars on Sunday, we decided to watch what many film critics, filmmakers and fans consider to be the greatest movie of all time: Citizen Kane, a 1941 drama produced, written, and directed by Orson Wells, who also played the title role. His character, whose career in the publishing world was born of idealistic social service but gradually evolved into a ruthless pursuit of power, was based in part upon the American newspaper magnates William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer. We were startled at the film’s timely — and timeless — depiction of mass media manipulation of public opinion and the power that media conglomerates have on influencing the democratic process.

Sunday brought mild, rainy weather — perfect for binge-reading, blogging and brunching. We’ll be returning to this same site in five days, and we can’t wait!