Monday gratefuls: Facebook. Yes, I know how evil it is, but I love it anyhow. Keeps me up with friends from faraway-in distance and time. Internet. Wow. Keeps on enthralling me (literally [sigh] and figuratively). This desktop computer that works. Always. My handheld computer which I rarely use as a phone. Electricity, whether from IREA, our solar panels, or our generator. And, by free association, Nicholas Tesla.
I’d like to apologize to all of you who read this about my near constant airing of my existential crisis. Must get old, but it’s on my mind. This is an online journal, meant to be an airing of what’s up, what’s current in my life and thinking. Not trying to be commercially friendly. Still, I like readers, so I hope I don’t lose you to the scattered thoughts about this guy’s attempt to grab hold of life. Again. And, again.
So. Whaddya think of this impeachment thing? I don’t know how to read it. Impeachment will happen, I’m sure. Removal from office will not. I’m pretty sure. In that case will we have accomplished anything as a body politic or will we have (or, have we already) baked the Trump bloc into our lives?
The separation of powers is, to me at least, sufficient reason to have proceeded. Congress needs to reassert its fiscal, policy, and military roles against an increasingly imperial presidency. Which, if we’re to be honest, Obama did a lot to nurture, too.
The shifting stances of the propagandists who want to keep Trump in office are not as friendly to democracy as we need them to be. The Trump faithful, an unreasoned but strong cult, is strengthened, not weakened by impeachment; they are driven more into each others arms. DJT right or wrong. Political differences, yes. Political battles, yes. But a devotional attitude toward this guy, no.
Where does all this lead us? I come from the rust belt. I know its politics, its people. I’m one of them. Those of my hometown who follow the Trump are many, but not varied. They have lost well-paying factory jobs, now in the long ago 1970’s, and nothing comparable has replaced them. Their community, Alexandria, which thrived while General Motors had Delco Remy and Guide Lamp in Anderson (25,000 jobs), has become a wasteland of dollar stores, boarded up businesses, and many homes with deferred maintenance. Where do they find hope?
The children of my classmates, who’ve known only this depressed economy, have a right to their disenchantment. We’ve earned it as a country by ignoring their needs. Their parents voted Democrat, understood strong unions, but the day the factories died, so did their political will. Trump has stepped into their hearts and into their children’s hearts. He and his kind will not be easily dislodged from them.
Today is the equilux. Equal day and night. If you look at the equinox post a few days back, you’ll find an explanation. The equinox occurs when the sun passes over the earth’s equator. But the equal part of equinox doesn’t occur until 2 to 3 days later. September 26th this year. So enjoy the day because this is the last time there are 12 or more hours in a day for 172 days.
Beach people might be sad; but, we mountain folk are glad. You know, snow and cold. We actually look forward to it.
Soooo. Impeachment. Probable result. House votes for impeachment. Senate says, what? Nope. We don’t do that anymore. Does Trump deserve to be impeached? Oh, yes. Many times over. The Ukraine phone call. Geez. It shows both the naivete and the hubris. I’m doing it. It must be ok. Because I am, after all, President!
Divisive? Oh, yeah. Big time. This will serve as a lock down for Trump followers. No questions allowed. No deviation from MAGA faith. Let’s show’em in 2020. Trump forever. No mingling with the general population. In Trumpworld impeachment is only the most recent in the multiple so unfair attacks on this plain speaking, selfless billionaire who gave up his cushy life style for the hardball court of Washington level politics. It might make the line between Trump loyalists and the rest of us a yawning chasm, one not easily breached. Ever.
That is my fear. Even if impeachment is successful, that is the House votes for impeachment, the resulting ill will engendered in red and blue state Trumpists will calcify them into a quasi-permanent block destructive to our democracy.
A delicate question, one pondered many times by Democratic strategists, I’m sure. Even so, I believe this is the right thing to do. Why? Oddly, I’d say a primary reason is to reestablish decorum in the Presidency. Though I’m far from a traditionalist in almost any part of my life, there are arenas where expectations shaped over decades and even centuries serve a valid purpose. Diplomacy is one of those. Without challenging the sort of naked abuse of power that Trump’s just us guys mode of discourse easily devolves into, future Presidents will find it difficult to have confidential conversations with world leaders.
Also, Trump’s amoral politicization of disdain, mockery, and outright disregard for women, the disabled, people of color, other nations gives cover to racists, misogynists, ableists, and xenophobes. On this last point he said, at the U.N., that, “Globalism is over. The world belongs to patriots, to strong nations.” These may not be impeachable offenses, but each one disqualifies him as leader of a free and just people. They require a literal slap across the face. Impeachment is just such a slap.
What the future of our country might look like if Trump goes without firm, serious resistance concerns me. A lot. He’s Babbitt made President. Babbitt and Nathan Bedford Forrest plus a healthy dose of David Duke and Father James Coughlin. Of course he is also in the direct lineage of Joe McCarthy’s junkyard dog, Roy Cohn. These are fringe members of our commonwealth, driven by fear, by greed, by a much too narrow view of what it means to be human.
Strap in. Hang on. And pray for…well, nothing. Let’s rely on truth, justice and the America Way instead of thoughts and prayers this time.
Caveat: Got carried away here. Stuff that’s important to me, but long.
Alienation is killing Americans and Japanese. The age of American despair. American life expectancy has dropped again. This is what life without retirement savings looks like.
Nope, not me. Headlines from articles I noticed over the last couple of weeks. Part of the story is told in the three factors most related to American decline in life expectancy: obesity, suicide, and drug overdoses. Summed up: living lives of quiet desperation.
In Japan the kids have disappeared and left the country to the old folks. People die alone. Unnoticed. Unseen. Unknown.
“…the simultaneity of the different self-destroying trends is a brute fact of American life. And that simultaneity does not feel like just a coincidence, just correlation without entanglement — especially when you include other indicators, collapsing birthrates and declining marriage rates and decaying social trust, that all suggest a society suffering a meaning deficit, a loss of purpose and optimism and direction, a gently dehumanizing drift.” Douthat, NYT, Sept. 7, 2019
Douthat also says, and I agree with him, that: “Despair as a sociological phenomenon is rarely permanent: Some force, or forces, will supply new forms of meaning eventually.” op cit
He’s a Roman Catholic and a conservative so his hope will be that religion and traditional institutions like the family can reassert their culture shaping roles, provide forms of meaning relevant to this crisis.
Another conservative writer, David Byler, wrote in a Washington Post opinion piece that conservatives have already won the culture war. His argument rests on the positive opinion Americans have of the police, the military, and the continued strength of marriage, the family, and religion. These core institutions, beloved of conservatives, are ok, he says, and prove that conservatives have “the winning hand” in the next election.
Can this despair can be handled by leaning into the familiar, the tried, the true? Seems unlikely to me since marriage and the family, religious institutions exist now, are readily available, and yet the despair rises. And, neither the military nor the police can answer because their roles are defensive, reactive to social forces. They’re not shapers or builders. They’re enforcers after the fact.
I see this despair as a disturbing inflection point created by a world in dramatic transformation. Interlocked global economies. Populations shifting locations, putting immigrant pressure on receiving societies and draining resources from the sending ones. A planet shifting from one climate regime to a less forgiving one for humans. Nativist and xenophobic politics which express the despair through anger, rage at the other upsetting democratic institutions worldwide.
I appreciated Douthat’s reminder that despair is rarely permanent. New forms of meaning will arise, as he projects. But from where? Not sure I know.
Scott Nearing, economist and author of a favorite book of mine, Living the Good Life, proposes a mixed economy. The issue is not one, Nearing argues, of a single economic model to rule them all. Rather, we should be making decisions about what aspects of culture belong to which economic model. Roads and infrastructure, schooling, law enforcement, the military, the legal system operate within a socialist model where we all chip in to assure ourselves of educated children, decent roads and bridges, protection against criminals and foreign enemies. Selling cars, fast food, jewelry, books, bicycles and the like operate within a capitalist model. But what about affordable housing and medical care? What about support for the unemployed or the victims of Schumpeter’s creative destruction?
As in Nearing’s approach to economics, I believe the answer to the despair engendered by a transforming global culture lies in a mixed political response. That is, we need to support some institutions conservatives love: marriage, the family, law enforcement, and the military because they are core to a sense of social security, a feeling of safety. Let’s set aside religion for now. We don’t have to support those institutions in the same way conservatives would. That is, we can favor marriage between persons who love each other while recognizing the non-binary nature of human sexuality. Similar thoughts can apply to the other three.
But, these institutions exist in political and economic contexts that have profound effects on their well-being. Is housing affordable? Is there work for you that pays a living wage? Can you get the medical care you need when you need it? What it will be like for you when you retire? Can you retool yourself for a new career? Are your children receiving the sort of education they need to thrive?
Let’s return now to religion. And, the arts. Bread and roses. “The worker must have bread, but she must have roses, too.” Rose Schneiderman, an organizer for the Women’s Trade Union of New York. Bread and Roses wiki
Positive changes to the economic and social conditions of oppression are, said another way, critical and necessary; but, they are not sufficient. The spirit must be fed, too. Everyone has a right to realize and live out their ikigai.
What religion does, at its best, is help folks develop a coherent view of life’s meaning and create a support system to help them realize it. At its worst religion pretends to have found the only meaning and creates a phalanx of enforcers for that view.
The arts also feed the soul. But they are often kept behind an elite curtain wall of high ticket prices, imposing museum corridors, and a presumed sine qua non of education to appreciate.
If we’re looking for areas outside the rough and tumble of politics for dealing with despair, both religion and the arts can play significant roles. It is here, I believe, that new meaning will arise, will begin to integrate world economies, help us adapt to climate change even as we fight its worsening, enable us to see the other not as a threat, but as a potential new friend, fellow worker, marriage partner.
Let’s see. Heat waves. Bad ones. The moon landing at 50. 50? And, of course, Send them back! Send them back! I really tried to stop it in the biggest way. Nobody could have tried to stop it harder. Nobody.
Consequential. Each of them. I still remember the first time I was in Phoenix. 107. Might have been August or September. Walking from the motel a few blocks to experience the heat I could feel the sidewalk through the soles of my shoes. The air was still.
Downtown Phoenix had several places that had misters, spraying a sheen of water out and over sidewalks, open air cafes. Fans aided the cooling effect. It was delicious. A revelation. But. It was still hot.
On a CME venture with Kate early in our marriage we went to Mexico City where Kate saw Rigoberta Menchu. Afterward we went to Oaxaca and Merida. We stayed at Casa de Balam, the House of the Leopard, in Merida. Our bodies have conditionings of which we are unaware until they are challenged.
It was hot. And, humid, unlike Phoenix. In the afternoon rain clouds gathered over Merida. Rain fell. And the heat and humidity got worse. It was like an open air steam bath. Rain washes away heat. After the rain comes a cool breeze, a sigh of relief. Nope. Not in Merida. Not that day. It shocked my body before I even realized what was odd.
Both of those times stick in my mind (plus that trek across Singapore’s Botanical Garden in 2016) as outliers, extreme situations occurring in places I visited infrequently. Now, Merida is coming to a city near you.
The moon landing. July 20, 1969. College was done. Judy and I had a small apartment in Muncie. It was hot. No AC. No misting water. Just sweat. I put aluminum foil on the rabbit ears of our tiny television, waved them through the air to find our best reception. The most complicated electric appliance in our apartment was my Selectric typewriter, the one with the ball.
We wore as little as possible. The moon was new that night, so the sky was starry. I remember the scratchy voice of Walter Cronkite saying something. The scene, like a set from a 1950’s sci fi movie, had a strange desolation, Buzz Aldrin would the call the moonscape, “Magnificent desolation.”
Cold beer. A joint. As night fell, we began to wonder if the astronauts would ever come out. The Eagle had landed at 3:17 pm and now it was nearing ten. Then, the hatch opened, a bulky white suit emerged and went slowly down the metal ladder. A human about to touch a surface other than earth’s. “One small step for a man, one giant step for mankind.” (btw: correct quote according to NASA and Armstrong.)
Our chests flew open, all of us, that night. We saw the unimaginable. We were alive when the first human walked on the moon. I was 22, drunk and stoned. But high, too. Up there. With Buzz and Neil.
No visa required. No passport control. No detention centers in the Sea of Tranquility.
Our current sadness. The smallness of the fearful white person. Fed by the orange would be Julius. On July 20, 1969, the federal government gave us a moment of wonder, of awe, a moment shared with the world. On the 50th anniversary of this remarkable human accomplishment this once great country now separates families at detention centers. Its President tells four U.S. citizens to go home. He encourages the cries of his base base, Send them back. Send them back.
And that heat. Study shows opening up Federal lands to oil and gas exploitation will increase climate change. Huh? Really? The administration has silenced scientific analysis, by government scientists, on the risks posed by climate change. Including the military, which sees climate change as a national security issue.
Oh to slide back into the wonder of the moon landing. To imagine a world where feats of human innovation still wow us. Where government fights racism instead of propogating it. That’s a backward look though. Let’s look forward instead. To a new, cooler time with awesome moments still ahead.
Another Yankee Doodle birthday. SeoAh turned 41. The U.S.A. 243. SeoAh’s birth culture is thousands of years old, as is Joe’s.
We’re such a baby from a historical perspective. Our relative youth is on display in every interaction we have with China, an ancient civilization like Korea and India that has lasted into the time of nation-states. One commentator I read a while back refers to China as a civilization state, rather than a nation state for that reason.
China engages the world as a regional hegemon, a role its held for most of its long history. It abuts so many different cultures, unlike the U.S. Vietnam, India, Myanmar, Bangladesh, the Himalayan kingdoms, the Stans, Russia, North Korea, even Japan if you see the South China Sea from China’s perspective. It does not share the great geopolitical advantage of the U.S., world ocean moats on both eastern and western borders.
The dynastic period of China, begun during the mostly lost in the mists Xia dynasty, only ended in the 20th century with the Qing ending in 1912. Thus, there are patterns and assumptions built into even the Chinese Communist party that reach far, far back in the Middle Kingdom’s political experience.
Among them is strategic patience, a trait sorely missing from U.S. foreign policy in the 21st century. The Chinese waited until its 99 year lease on Hong Kong was up, then reabsorbed this city-state. Not without difficulty, yes, but even the one country-two systems policy has Hong Kong, like Tibet, as an administrative district of the larger nation. They are also waiting to absorb Taiwan, sometimes patiently, sometimes not.
The world is big enough for China and the U.S. as regional hegemons, not big enough for either of us to dominate. China knows that. I’m not sure we do.
If I could have a birthday wish for the U.S.A., it would be a leavening of our foreign policy with the wisdom of history. Hard to pull off when our supreme leader doesn’t read, I know. We, as a citizenry, may have to exercise strategic patience with him and his followers. Trump and his base are not the vanguard of a revolution, rather they are equivalent of the village peasant in traditional societies.
They are defensive in posture, that’s what America First means. You only wish for America First if you believe we’re already somehow less than others. I don’t.
DJT and his cult hold onto economic givens long out of date. Manufacturing and its supply chain, though still crucial to our economy, we’re #2 in the world after, guess who, China, has been in steady decline as an employer since the 1990’s, continuing a long slide begun in the 1940’s. see this Wikipedia article. Tariff man reflects a belief that the U.S. is somehow getting screwed on a regular basis.
They hold onto social givens like fear of the other, affecting immigration, race, and gender identity. The unearned privilege of the white American male is still regarded among them, and their leader, as a privilege given by hard work and innovation, rather than a teetering social contract based on patriarchy and ruthless oppression of minorities.
This is a passing phase, often at its strongest when its proponents sense their weakness, perhaps for the first time. Strategic patience involves doing everything possible to align their national political influence with their actual minority status. It means working against the Proud Boy in the White House and for politicians existing in today’s world, not yesterday’s. It also means not succumbing to despair or nihilism.
That’s tough, I know, especially with the climate crisis literally breathing hot air on our necks. But one way to not succumb is to do what is possible politically while focusing on those local and state level initiatives that will position us later for strong climate action.
Standing with you all in this, our 243rd year of a grand national experiment: Can a nation be built on political values rather than culture?
Yellow stains even on my keyboard. The stuff is everywhere, though the rain yesterday knocked yet more of it down, out of the air. I imagine that’s why my Lodgepole pollen allergy has been calmer this year.
A lot of intellectual heavy breathing going on right now. Examples: “The 2020 issue that matters is democracy itself” E.J.Dionne, Washington Post, July 1, 2019. “Do the Republicans Even Believe in Democracy Anymore?” Michael Tomasky, NYT, July 1, 2019. “Climate Change Is a Public Health Emergency, Medical Groups Warn“, Dana Najjar, Medscape, July 1, 2019. And so on.
There has been, over the last year, a rise in climate nihilists, ones that look at the data, especially the still rapidly rising carbon load in the atmosphere, and conclude that we have neither the tools, nor, most importantly, the will, to modulate carbon emissions.
Articles question the future of democracy. They point to Trump, Putin, Erdogan, Kim, and Viktor Orban of Hungary. They also point to the rise of the alt-right, Brexit and Boorish Johnson, the success of China’s centralized rule. The Washington Post had an article titled, “We’re in an anti-liberal moment. Liberals need better answers.” WP, June 21, 2019.*
Instead of Fukuyama’s The End of History, we have the end of democracy and the possible end of human civilization. A heady turn around from his credulous opinion that liberalism and capitalism had finished off the conflicts of the past.
While I have sympathy with the naysayers, even agree with some of their main conclusions, I’m reminded of those folks who’ve predicted the end of the world over the centuries. Always wrong. Why? Because the apocalypse is not monocausal. If this is the relative death of democracy, we can look back at history and know that even that reality will change. If the climate nihilists are right, adaptive technologies and now unknown human responses to an overheated environment ensure some will survive and thrive.
The black outlook surfacing in so many news sources, from so many intelligent people, reflects instead a general feeling that, as Wordsworth said,
The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;— Little we see in Nature that is ours; We have given our hearts away…
“The World is Too Much With Us” William Wordsworth
I’ve quoted some from the Washington Post article below because I believe it offers a solid anti-dote to despair. It underlines liberalism’s promise of a life lived with creative freedom, a sort of life that should be available to all. It also admits that liberalism has gotten too cozy with capitalism, evidenced by the so-true political cliche that both Republicans and Democratics are parties of and for corporate America.
As we near the fourth of July, I’m going with Emma Lazarus, with Scott Nearing, with Ram Dass, with Mary Oliver. Thomas Berry. Emma Goldman and Joe Hill. With Ruth and Gabe as they project our family into the maw of both strongman politics and radical climate change. None of this changes how much I love my family, how much I believe in human inventiveness, how much I care about politics and the Great Work.
*” …liberals in recent decades have spent most of their time focusing on the coexistence of different outlooks — promoting interdenominational peace, a public square in which religious and secular voices can both speak, and above all an emphasis on groups asserting their special identities — and forgetting to foster a sense of life well lived. Liberals have promoted group tolerance at the expense of self-cultivation. In the face of increasing criticism, however, liberals need to answer that they already champion a highest good: creative freedom…”
” Liberalism’s main problem is that its vision of a life well lived has been corrupted — not by too much license and self-expression, but by an overemphasis on economic freedom that has undercut its own promise.” We’re in an anti-liberal moment. Liberals need better answers.Washington Post, June 21, 2019
The stent moon is a crescent, 12% illumination, hanging over Eduardo and Holly’s. It’s been everything I hoped. Next, a month focused on getting Kate’s weight up. What would you name the moon for that month? I’ll take ideas until Friday.
At night, before going to sleep, I identify the gifts given to me during the day, the gifts I’ve given and any trouble I’ve caused. Then, on waking I identify things I’m grateful for and things that bring joy. These simple habits, developed in mussar work over the last year, keep me aware of the ongoing miracle of the ordinary.
I woke up. The air is cool. My body’s ok. Kate’s beside me with no nausea or cramping. Kepler’s wagging his tail, ready to go upstairs for breakfast. The power came back on yesterday after a long outage. The generator works. I didn’t even know it was on. The long road to DIA offered good conversation with our second son. He’s going back to Minnesota to spend time with a friend who’s depressed. That gives me joy. Ruth up here painting and giving me tips. Joy. Pure. Gertie’s kisses. Murdoch’s bouncy, smiley presence. Snow. Cold. The black clear night sky with stars and a crescent moon. A car that works. SeoAh’s cooking. Kate’s joy at her relief. Gifts, joys, and gratitude. Everywhere I look.
Are there challenges? Oh, yes. But our human tendency to scan the horizon for threats, be alert for danger often blinds us to everyday wonders. Life is not all about illness, or finances, or legal trouble, or separation from loved ones. Yes, these matters crop up in our lives just like the occasional predatory lion or tiger came upon our ancestors in the veldt or in the forests of India and, yes, we need to see them, understand them, respond. We do not, however, have to build our lives around them.
I’m reading an interesting book by two North Carolina political scientists, Prius or Pickup. It posits a continuum on these very matters with one ended anchored in a fixed worldview and the other in a fluid worldview. The fixed worldview folks see danger and threat wherever they look. Those with a fluid worldview have more confidence in the world, focus more on the richness of life. In between are various blends between the two that the authors call a mixed worldview. They argue that over the last few decades our political life has gradually aggregated those with a more fixed worldview in the Republican Party and those with a more fluid worldview in the Democratic.
Stay Calm and Keep on Fracking, Evergreen, 2018
A field I didn’t even know existed, biopolitics, ties these worldviews to neurological differences, our partisan political environment has an increasing gap of understanding. Since that gap has roots in our neurobiology, we find it increasingly difficult to understand, or perhaps more importantly, trust anyone in the other camp. I’ve not finished the book so I don’t know what they propose. Gifts, joy, and gratitude identifying habits might help.
2019 lies mostly ahead of us. Yes, it’s an artificial segmentation of our ongoing orbit around the sun, but it does mark the end of one orbit and the beginning of another. (though any day of the year would serve just as well) So we might consider, as we set off on another journey of 584 million miles, what, over all that distance, over that pilgrimage on which all us earthlings travel, we’ll choose as our focus. The threats in our life? Or, the joys, the ordinary miracles? Where we put our attention is our choice.
Chum is in the water. It may be Sharknado for he who shall not be named’s presidency. Part of Michael Cohen’s testimony indicates that individual-1, i.e. 45, the orange tumor on our democracy, ordered hush payments to two women with whom he had affairs, Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.
Note the state of our public life now. This isn’t about the fact, the fact, that the President had extramarital affairs, one with a porn actress whose work is available for all to see. No. And, it’s not even technically about paying money to quiet them in advance of a Presidential election bid. It’s about illegal campaign donations, both payments constituting donations to 45’s campaign in excess of the $2,700 Federal limit.
I’m searching for the Christian ethical principle evangelicals see at work in all this. Nah, just kidding. I know worshiping Mammon when I see it. 45 is no Cyrus.
Having said that I’m not sure what this portends for our country. Look at this from RealClear Politics today:
In spite of the pussy grabbing, in spite of the mocking of the disabled, in spite of inciting white supremacists, in spite of being Tariff Man, in spite of all the mean, low, bitter tweets, in spite of the now becoming clear violations of federal election law, 41% of the American people have a favorable view of 45. That means that any headon assault on his presidency will deepen and harden existing divisions in our political life. Congressional leaders have lower approval ratings than the orange tumor on our democracy. We’re in deep trouble at the Federal governance level.
orge González/Flickr. Some rights reserved.
If I were a foreign power, I’d take advantage of this weakness in any way I could. Think Russia and China have considered actions? I’m 100% certain of it. In fact, they may both be implicated in the current chaos, and if so, it’s working out even better than they could have imagined. I’m feeling like a Brit as the empire fell apart, only in this case it’s our own government.
I suppose the only answer to the mess is to keep slogging forward, electing Democrats to more and more offices, hoping that at some point the Republican party will wake from its long hibernation and eliminate the shameful immoral collection of shills currently operating under its banner. No, I’m not under any illusion about the Democrats. I know they are part of the corporate/capitalist cabal that controls our politics. But at least the Democrats make noises, though very quiet ones, about caring for the poor, understanding the danger of climate change, restoring our geopolitical alliances. That’s more than good enough for me right now.
Though I haven’t begun to read them yet, William Vollman’s two volume work: No Immediate Danger and No Good Alternative, the Carbon Ideologies paints a bleak picture. So does the IPCC‘s latest report. I also reported here, quite a while back, about a new movement called dark ecology that, like these three works, takes a dim view of our (that is, the world’s) willingness to execute the necessary carbon emissions restrictions.
Much as I hate to admit it, I believe these darker, more hopeless perspectives about the struggle against climate change might be right. If they are, we may be walking down a path that leads to an HG Wellian Time Machine world with the poor morlocks wandering the face of the earth (think the 99%) and the eloi burrowed into her mantle, using their great wealth and power to survive the heat and climatic chaos.
If we cannot slow down the rate of climate change (which is the most we can do, since so much climate change is already baked in), then we move to mitigation and adaptation. Geoengineering will become a buzz word as various strategies are tried. Climate refugees will become more and more disruptive across the world, especially those moving from coastal areas into interiors and onto higher ground. The already underway shifts in plant and animal eco-systems, climate refugees all, will bring them with different disease vectors, disruption to agriculture and sea life.
We will not be known for Vietnam, civil rights, feminism, ruining health care, electing fascists to high office, but as the generation that allowed an earth compatible with human populations to slip away. Hard as it is to imagine the results of this inaction will be far, far more damaging than all the wars, holocausts and pogroms. How will we explain this to our grandchildren, to Ruth and Gabe in our instance? I understand the political and economic forces that have gotten us here, but explaining them will not alter the misery.
The country I used to know. It wasn’t perfect. Take MLK and the civil rights movement. Vietnam. Crushing, unnecessary poverty and the dismal, shameful access to health care. Coal and gas poisoning the atmosphere. The lives of women and girls. And, yes, so much else.
It wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t sit at the stoplight, look at the car next to you and wonder if this asshole voted for Trump bad. It wasn’t mock the disabled, give aid and comfort to white supremacists bad. It wasn’t lock up democracy in a Republican’s only cabinet, then turn the Republicans into mean spirited and cruel operatives. It wasn’t grow the 1% at the expense of everyone else, grow the 1% at the expense of mother earth, grow the 1% at the expense of our allies. It wasn’t give aid and comfort to our enemies, to dictators and shun our friends.
No, this, this whatever we have now is worse, so much worse. I feel as if I woke up one morning, uncertain when, and found I’d moved to 1930’s Italy or Germany or Japan. As if the cultural fabric in which I lived and moved and had my being for 71 years had torn. In this case it revealed not an inept but kindly wizard, but a disturbing cabal of old white men, each one worse than Gollum, rubbing their own versions of the one ring and saying, my Precious, my Precious, my Precious.
As I drive down the hill, then climb back up, I wonder if this is the way it was. Lives going on, wives in hospitals, trying to make sense of the unexpected, sudden calamities that visit us all but finding those calamities embedded in a greater one like Russian nesting dolls. Kate’s struggle a small instance of the larger one, a people beset by unforeseen tragedy. But, where do you take a country in extremis? Where are the emt’s for a sick nation?
This will sound strange, but I find Kate’s troubles, significant and important as they are to our family and friends, pale in comparison to the rot, yes, the evil, the poison in the veins of our body politic. These are not times of political disagreement, of debates over national debt or military preparedness or immigration policy, these are times with the flavor of a cold civil war.
I cannot describe to you how sad all this makes me. How disorienting I find these times. I don’t know what happens next, where we go from here. I hope the November elections shake the foundations of the Republic.
Too much. Kavanagh’s cowardly confirmation now seats two known sex offenders, criminals, on the highest court in our land, both with lifetime appointments. How can we trust our country? What does it mean to be an American now?