6/13/2013—One of the amazing spectacles nature is the return of the cicadas on the eastern coast the United States every 17 years. When you think about the last time the cicadas emerged, in 1996, and the return now, in 2013, and then the next time they will emerge, in 2030, you have a 34 year cycle—the main part of an adult lifetime.
The next time the cicadas come, I will be, if I’m alive, 78 years old. Even given the way law schools work, I will be retired, my productive years probably over. I hope Patt and I will be enjoying a dual retirement.
This natural rhythm is far more encompassing that any human life. And like all the great cycles of nature, dwarfs human creativity. The lack of recognition of this kind of clock is one of the flaws of humanism. It is in fact one of the flaws of modernity itself.
Once, you could’ve said this is a flaw in secularism. But today religion itself, especially in its Christian varieties, emphasizes the human to as great an extent as any secularism does. But the human, by itself, this not amount to that much. It certainly does not refresh and reassure the way the return of the cicadas does.