CLASS NOTES February 2004

Early in this 2004 election year, people were reacting to the uncertain times and acting on their beliefs in thoughtful ways. In January, Gail Chavenelle and three generations of her family took part in the Iowa caucuses. Young people, including her two 17-year-old grandsons who will be first-time voters, were part of the large turnout. Gail believes that participation and enfranchisement are the future of our democracy.

Kate Barald was planning to vote in the February Michigan Democratic caucus for the person most likely to bring about a Bush-less recovery. I am concerned that if Bush wins again, he will even further endanger the federal judiciary, not to mention the Supreme Court. Our children and grandchildren will be living with the damage he will do to the courts, the budget, support for research, and social programs. She and her husband are considering emigration if the erosion of our civil liberties is not reversed. Kate strongly opposes the Iraq war and believes we are in greater danger because of it: Anyone who isn’t worried about what Cheney and Rove will cook up next should Bush be re-elected must be living on a different planet from me.

Having completed her transformation from craftsperson to photographer to bookseller, Lucy Horton credits Bryn Mawr with teaching her to recognize a good book quickly. Her husband Howard has likewise transformed his career to internal medicine, although he still plays and teaches jazz guitar (his prior career): I also accompany teen girls to court so they can get a judge’s permission to have an abortion without parental consent. These girls are brave and mature and give a person hope for the future.

Susan Orbeton Gilpin remembers taking Prof. Melville Kennedy’s political science course, Communism and Nationalism in Southeast Asia, during the Vietnam War, which made her aware of the power of nationalism around the world: Everywhere in the world, people want to govern themselves. I continue to view our sending troops to Iraq as a foreign policy blunder. I am afraid for my grandchildren, that the mistrust we have sowed will haunt them. Last May, Susan and her husband, Clifford, helped coordinate the visit of the historic freedom schooner Amistad to Maine. Six thousand students and adults visited the ship, a floating classroom for diversity training.

The actions of the current administration in Washington DC are so disturbing that I am forced out of my complacency into Becoming Political, says Deborah A. Rice: Being the mother of a 16-year-old and longing for retirement don’t leave much excess energy for it, but I feel I must! We seem headed wrongly in so many areas.

Ann Livingston Holland writes about her husband, Carroll, who fought in World War II: As the freedoms erode for which Carroll and millions of young people like him have thought they were fighting, will we slip into semi-consciousness, lulled by the hum of our TVs, and come to believe the political shell game is real life? While old people in our cities can’t afford to turn on the heat, and children are beaten or starved to death, the talking heads argue whether Howard Dean really meant to scream in Iowa

… Will it really matter which Democrat wins the convention’s nomination? Carroll’s son-in-law told me this week that Bush has to be re-elected, because Democrats are “bad for business” and we depend on “business” to create jobs, so people will have money to spend, so the economy will improve. What do we answer people who believe that? We concentrate on little things. “Think globally, act locally” could be the slogan of our current life. We recycle returnables. We look for deliberate ways to ease life’s burdens, to build community, and to celebrate our many blessings. We have made a promise to accumulate less and dispose of much of what we already have. Ann contributed a quotation from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities (credited by Louise Yellen) to sum up the current situation: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …” Here’s an additional one from W.B. Yeats’ poem “The Second Coming”: The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.

May your passionate conviction lead to intelligent action.

Taffy Brecht Everts
’67 Class Editor