Monday, December 19, 2016

Are politics anthesis to community?

Today is the day that electors of the electoral college are scheduled to vote for the next president of the United States, unless some damn fool starts World War Three by assassinating a Russian Ambassador in Turkey. I don't think I'm grasping at straws when I wonder if one positive outcome of a Trump administration might be that Americans learn to value what we have had. Once again I'll turn to Joni Mitchell's lyrics from Big Yellow Taxi to observe that
"Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got til its gone"
Might one appropriate response to the upcoming four years (Dear God, please let it be only four years, at most) be to spend an unconscionable amount of time reading (and rereading) Richard Brautigan's Trout Fishing In America and kind of declare myself a noncombatant, maybe serve as an ambulance driver ferrying the wounded off the battlefields of our political and cultural wars.

Taylor's Falls Christmas lighting parade, a community event
Taylor's Falls Christmas lighting parade, a community event
Photo by J. Harrington

In addition to changing the climate so that we now have subjected ourselves to more, and more intense, natural disasters, we Americans have compounded that with a man-made disaster in the making. Although, since climate change is largely due to human generated green-house gases, climate change could be considered a man-made disaster also. It certainly can't be labeled an "Act of God" by any sane person.

That brings me to mentioning some of the sanest persons I know of: Native Americans, particularly those who were and are encamped at Standing Rock. Native Americans provide a long-standing example of resistance to a capitalist, globalist, inward-focused government. If we are wise, we will learn from and follow their example. Here's yet another place to start on that theme: Nibi (Water) Walks.

Kettle River, a Nibi Walk river, at Banning State Park
Kettle River, a Nibi Walk river, at Banning State Park
Photo by J. Harrington

Since many of us humans have a fascination with train wrecks, the next few years are likely to prove intriguing, if morbidly so. I note all this gloom and doom at Christmas time in order to urge us all to enjoy a Merry Christmas! this year. It may be our best(?) one for a number of years. But, closing, for today, on a brighter note, the upside to the disasters I anticipate will pass for government in the US can be found in at least two of Rebecca Solnit's books:

A Paradise Built in Hell : The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster;

 and

Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities

We often surprise ourselves by rising above our baser nature. Scrooge did. May our president-elect be visited by whatever number of Christmas ghosts it takes to soften his heart to the Tiny Tims of the world, and the rest of us to. Until that happens, feel free to RESIST!

A Little Shiver


By Barton Sutter


After the news, the forecaster crowed
With excitement about his bad tidings:
Eighteen inches of snow! Take cover!
A little shiver ran through the community.
Children abandoned their homework.
Who cared about the hypotenuse now?
The snowplow driver laid out his long johns.
The old couple, who’d barked at each other
At supper, smiled shyly, turned off the TV,
And climbed the stairs to their queen-size bed
Heaped high with blankets and quilts.
And the aging husky they failed to hear
Scratch the back door, turned around twice
In the yard, settled herself in the snow,
And covered her nose with her tail.


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