Yesterday morning Kathy and I attended a League of Women Voters meeting downtown. With a group of about 40 men and women, we reached a somewhat shaky consensus on what issues our League should focus on for study and action at the state and local levels for the League years 2011-2013.
I wanted to go out to lunch afterwards, but Kathy had to go home, so I walked over to my local Indian restaurant and had a wonderful meal. They serve a combo of rice, raita, na'an, and a choice of three vegetarian or vegan dishes (out of a possible eight or ten). I had mixed veggie korma, mushroom curry, and potato curry. Came home and took a nice nap.
Later, I got on the Internet and learned that Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords had been shot in a Tucson supermarket. Six were dead (including a nine-year-old girl) and twelve wounded. Giffords' condition was critical after surgery to remove a bullet from her brain. Another rampage. Another blot on Arizona's reputation. I flashed back to Columbine and all the carnage since.
This morning, Facebook brought me a posting by my local League president: "had a 'my pet goat' moment today. learned a congresswoman had been shot by checking email during league of women voters meeting, but didn't share the news. the more I learn about it, the more I wish I had. to the league, town hall meetings like hers are pretty much sacred."
My first reaction was relief that David didn't interrupt our meeting with news of the shooting. We had enough trouble focusing on the issues we were supposed to discuss. Did this lack of focus have anything to do with folks checking their smart phones? At the same time, I recalled that when I first learned about the shooting I felt some guilt for not keeping up. Not listening to news on the car radio instead of chatting with Kathy? Not checking the Internet before lunch?
Wondering what all this had to do with a pet goat, I visited Wikipedia and learned that The Pet Goat was the book President George W. Bush kept on reading with grade school students after being informed of the 9/11 attacks.
My Facebook comment to David was: "We're always on the sidelines of the global village. The question is often whether to step in or step out." I was musing on what it means to be present. Still am.
Continuing along through Facebook's News Feed, I learned that Phil and his father had been at our neighborhood Indian Restaurant at about the same time I was there yesterday. How I would have loved to see them! Maybe I'd have learned about the Giffords shooting in a more gentle way, or maybe we'd have enjoyed a meal in blissful ignorance.
I learned a long time ago that I can't be in two places at once. Nevertheless, the Internet sometimes gives an illusion of being on a second plane of existence while we're logged on. Simulated simultaneity?
Do you suppose Candide had a pet goat in his garden?