I Heard It at the Icehouse: Why Are We Here?

(I’m sharing some posts my father did when he blogged for a couple of years. His blog was called “I Heard It at the Icehouse.” In the introduction, he explained than an icehouse “had a bar, served beer, and had domino tables, pool tables and served both men and women. It was a social center where the gossip of the day prevailed and recreation was offered.” He posted this philosophical piece early in his blogging career, shortly after the 2008 presidential election.)

By John M. MooreJohn Moore

My younger daughter called from New York and asked: “How are you, Daddy?” I replied that I was just fine. This was not really true. I lie awake nights wondering about the big question: WHY?

Why is one of the questions I have been unable to answer during a long life of seeking answers. Sometimes I think about Mr. Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar. Cassius worried if he and his friends were doing the right thing when they killed Caesar. Brutus, on the other hand, had no doubts about it being the right thing. 

I grew up with the philosophy of Thomas Jefferson, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. I am not sure that Mr. Jefferson was a happy man.

Why do I go to the Icehouse? is it to stifle my conscience with a beer? No, it is to listen to the conversation. Sometimes even a truck driver comes up with a grain of wisdom.

Mr. Schulz, the cartoonist, created Charlie Brown, who never came up with the answer. Lucy, on the other hand, never doubted that she was right. Franklin Roosevelt, who nearly got me killed during World War II, said that the only thing we need to fear is fear itself. FDR jerked me out of a pastoral existence into a world of turmoil. I came back from the war opposed to slavery.

It has taken a long time, but we seem to be on the verge of abolishing slavery here in the United States. President-elect Barack Obama, who has a bright wife and two daughters, is an honor graduate of Harvard Law School. Yet he turned down a well paying job with a corporate law firm to go into community action in Chicago. Maybe he knows why.

My New York daughter is a poet. My older daughter, in Austin, is an attorney. They want to know why. My grandson, who is teaching English in the schools in Korea, wants to know why. Maybe he will find some ancient wisdom in Asia.

The answer is that we are here to help create a better way of life in which to live. Sounds simple? Join me at the Icehouse to help me find some answers.

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Flashes of Illumination

Writing runs in the family, obviously. Flashes of Illumination, a collection of my short-short fiction, is now available here from Book View Cafe. This 52-story ebook collects the flash fiction I published weekly during the first year of Book View Cafe, and adds in a few later stories as well.

My novella Changeling remains available as an ebook through Book View Cafe. It’s a coming of age story.

Both books are $2.99 and available in four DRM-free formats: mobi, epub, prc, and pdf.

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About Nancy Jane Moore

Nancy Jane Moore's science fiction novel, The Weave, is now available in print and ebook versions from Aqueduct Press. Some of her short stories are now appearing as reprints on Curious Fictions. She is a founding member of Book View Cafe. Her BVC ebooks can be found here. She also has short stories and essays in most of the BVC anthologies. In addition to writing fiction, Nancy Jane, who has a fourth degree black belt in Aikido, teaches empowerment self defense. She is at work on a self defense book that emphasizes non-fighting skills.

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I Heard It at the Icehouse: Why Are We Here? — 6 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Nancy. Provocative: “…we seem to be on the verge of abolishing slavery here in the United States.”

    I’d love to explore that comment. First what makes him think we have slavery here, and further, what makes him think we’re on the verge of abolishing it?

    Looking forward to hearing more of your father’s thoughts.

    Sue

    • My best guess is that he was encompassing the Jim Crow years and the continuing struggle with racism under slavery and that the election of President Obama gave him some hope that we were finally moving on. He was an early supporter of Obama — gave me one of his books for Christmas in 2006.

  2. Within my lifetime, it has changed. When I was born, a Barack Obama could not get a seat in a high-end restaurant in Virginia, a state that is a ten-minute drive (if traffic is with you) from the White House. In my lifetime my marriage, and my daughter’s and my sister’s, was illegal in this state. (Admittedly nobody was excited about enforcing the miscegenation laws on Chinese girls marrying white guys, but the laws were certainly on the books.)
    I believe now that it cannot go back. If we are stupid and inattentive they might be able to claw back equal-pay legislation, or re-regulate birth control in the short term. But, forever, when you open a history book, you’ll see that black face in the lineup of Presidents.

    • Our lifetime has been an amazing period of change, but some people are still trying to stop it. It took a whole series of court cases to finally end legal segregation — including Virginia v. Loving, which threw out anti-miscegenation laws in, I believe, 1967. These days the issues around race are a little more subtle — no one is standing in the schoolhouse door — but it isn’t hard to see the underlying racism in some of the attacks on President Obama. The attacks on women’s reproductive rights are more blatant, but I think the response to them is growing.

      Still, it’s really depressing to go back and re-fight battles that were won. I suspect my father would feel the same way. I don’t think he ever wrote about it on his blog, but I know he, as someone who is old enough to remember the Scopes monkey trial, was shocked to see the resurgence of fundamentalist religion attacking science. He thought that battle was over.