Thursday, June 22, 2017

Denying denial

It would seem that the North Country's counter to the Southwest's "Yes, but it's a dry heat," is going to be "Yes, but it's a damp coolness!" I don't think this is the way, in an age of global warming, Summer is supposed to work. Outside the walls where this is being written, it's pouring rain and the midday temperature is 67℉. The rain should help the plants that went into our sandy soils last Spring, but it won't take much more of this before local streams may rise again.

storm clouds
storm clouds
Photo by J. Harrington

Local streams, for now, with their rise and fall, may have more resilience than either of our political parties. Republicans are busy trying to destroy health care and safety nets to fund tax breaks for some of the richest people in the world, while the Democrats' internal strife may result in self destruction, as leadership of both parties ignores many of the needs of rank and file Americans.

One of my favorite crystal ball gazers, David Orr, wrote about our current situation back in 2012:
"Further, governments and our political discourse must transcend the old right-left dichotomy characteristic of industrial age politics. The challenge ahead will be to creatively join conservatism and liberalism in search of a livable future. Interestingly, the necessary changes would blend the thinking of Edmund Burke, the founder of modern conservatism, with that of Thomas Jefferson, associated with modern radicalism. In different ways, each argued for the protection of future generations from “intergenerational tyranny.” The prospect of political change, however, is complicated and difficult, and there is no assurance that governments that are effective in the face of rapid climate destabilization will also be democratic.7 It is easier and perhaps more plausible to imagine a future of hyper-efficient, solar-powered, sustainable, and authoritarian societies than reformed and effective democracies."
... 
"The scientific evidence suggests that we are entering a “long emergency” for which there will be no quick fixes or painless solutions. Any worthy vision must hold out solid hope of the millennial kind. It must include rights for future generations.9 It must create a more inclusive framework for justice, fairness, decency, sustainability, and human rights (e.g., the Earth Charter).10 It must preserve a stock of irreplaceable knowledge11 while protecting and extending the hard-won gains of civilization, but over time spans and conditions that we can barely fathom."
no storm, no rainbow
no storm, no rainbow
Photo by J. Harrington

Orr's reference to a "long emergency" echoes the title of James Howard Kunstler's distressingly prescient eponymous book. Perhaps, as we view current events in Washington, D.C., or our local state capitals, as well as around the world, we might try to view current events through lenses suggested by both David Orr and many of our founding fathers. It is my firm belief that we, that's all of us, rich and poor, have gotten ourselves into a situation in which Ben Franklin's observation, that "We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately." [-In the Continental Congress just before signing the Declaration of Independence, 1776] may well be an understatement. Remember, "Denial is not just a river in Egypt."

First Storm and Thereafter


By Scott Cairns


What I notice first within
          this rough scene fixed
in memory is the rare
          quality of its lightning, as if
those bolts were clipped
          from a comic book, pasted
on low cloud, or fashioned
          with cardboard, daubed
with gilt then hung overhead
          on wire and fine hooks.
What I hear most clearly
          within that thunder now
is its grief—a moan, a long
          lament echoing, an ache.
And the rain? Raucous enough,
          pounding, but oddly
musical, and, well,
          eager to entertain, solicitous.

No storm since has been framed
          with such matter-of-fact
artifice, nor to such comic
          effect. No, the thousand-plus
storms since then have turned
          increasingly artless,
arbitrary, bearing—every
          one of them—a numbing burst.

And today, from the west a gust
          and a filling pressure
pulsing in the throat—offering
          little or nothing to make light of.


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