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  • David Horst

The persistence of beauty


On my dark days, all I see is the ugliness pervading everything from city streets to our nation’s capitol. I find litter, weeds, and blight in the city — a good metaphor of the corruption and cruelty among the ruling political class in Washington, D.C. Drinkers and smokers drop their empty nips and cigarette packs without a thought. Knee-high bitter dock, knotweed, and prickly lettuce in sidewalks and empty lots, spreading their late-summer seeds, have gone uncut for months. Soiled mattresses and crumbling particle-board furniture lie moldering at curbside. The city and political landscape from here to D.C. is debris-ridden and uncared for. How can I witness this uncaring and neglect and not feel dispirited?

And yet, somehow and someway, beauty persists. I witness the proliferation of Maximilian sunflowers finding nourishment in the gutter. I praise the hardy hydrangeas blooming blue and full in the heat of the day. I join local volunteers gathering on Saturday morning to clean up trash and debris from the streets of their city just as I support good-government leaders and citizens promoting honesty, equity, and decency.

By word and action, I resist the seduction of cynicism, the surrender to fear and division, and the wanton spread of ugliness.

Instead, I seek and find the beauty in our diverse cityscape and every human face. I believe that the democratic process and rule of law, like the beauty of the flowers, persists and flourishes.

Now it’s time to pick up the litter, cut the weeds, and clean up the streets — and speak out and vote.


Photo: McKinley Avenue, Norwich, Conn.

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© 2020 by DAVID M. HORST