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Life as performance art

Life as performance art

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By Fr. G. Corwin Stoppel

Pat’s oldest son Carson told us about the British mystery series “Floyle’s War” and over the past few weeks we have been enjoying the DVDs from the Saugatuck-Douglas District Library. They are sequential, so viewers should start at the beginning.

Pat and I like good mysteries and the films have exceeded our expectations. The acting is good, the story lines better and we haven’t been able to “solve” a single crime before the installment ended.

Plus it’s one of those period pieces the British do so well: set in Hastings starting during World War II and concluding in the Cold War. Great costumes, beautiful old cars and a setting that appeals to us.

“Floyle’s War” depicts a frightening world and uncertain future, with death and destruction a constant specter. Add to that the years of rationing and shortages, anxiety of men and women serving overseas, threat of invasion and the terror of bombing raids. It got worse when the German V1 and V2 rockets began to fall without warning, giving no opportunity to take shelter and causing near-certain death.

It seems every night when we go to bed these days, knowing at least three very assertive national leaders seem to be bullying each other into a nuclear conclusion to life on this planet, the stories of seven decades ago may too become our story.

Every morning we wake up wondering, “Who did what to whom while I was sleeping?” We breathe a sigh of relief when we learn nothing has happened, but then pause and think, “Not yet.”

Even in the worst times, a sense of decency held things and people together. Rationing was a great equalizer; most people complained about it but did the right thing. The British, famous for queuing up to wait their turn to board a bus or pay for their purchase, applied this patience and discipline universally, regard- less of money or social standing. This emphasis on civility and fair play helped hold society together.

Our world is again a dangerous place. In many parts of this country the resulting anxiety is expressed in divisiveness between groups who find it easy to be polarizing and iconoclastic.

There is precious little we can do about international affairs. But where we have the opportunity to work together, cooperate and find points in common rather than those which divide us, we should seize it. And keep building a better future.