BTA (Before the Age of Trump)

Just about two years ago in 2016 BTA (Before the age of Trump), we found ourselves in Kyoto on Election Day. Anxious about the outcome of the election and not quite knowing what to do with ourselves, we headed for a museum for some much needed distraction, while waiting out news of the returns. While there, my husband glanced at his phone repeatedly.  I didn’t pay much attention until his face grew darker. I mean on a scale of 1 to 10 it was a 10.  I was afraid to ask him what he’d seen, but I had to.  “It’s all over,” he announced somberly.  Unwilling to comprehend what he was saying, I said “impossible.” There must be a mistake I insisted. Ah, denial! No, he repeated to me, Trump has an unbeatable lead. I could not detect any uncertainty in his announcement. End of story.  End of so many things I held dearly. Continue reading “BTA (Before the Age of Trump)”

Our Earth is Not Well

All is not right. I am asked frequently, as are most of us in our daily interactions, How are you? I’m very well, I respond. As you may be too. But the truth is the planet I am part of is not well. Not at all well. Its symptoms of illness have become obvious this year. If the planet I live on is ailing, I have to honestly say that I am not so well as I might like to think I am.  Even for those of us who admit climate change is a reality, it becomes very painful to acknowledge it regularly.

The lead headline in today’s NYTimes finally blew it out in the open.

2018 Is Shaping Up to Be the Fourth-Hottest Year. Yet We’re Still Not Prepared for Global Warming.
It’s hot. But it may not be the new normal yet. Temperatures are still rising.

Living in California this year has given us a film forum’s worth of wildfire videos burning year round. Hotter, longer and more destructive. In Santa Barbara, the current drought has just been proclaimed the longest on record.

My daughter, now visiting in Vancouver, told me that the whales are dying in the Northwest waters.

Last year, one of my favorite streets in Santa Barbara lost several of its century old Italian stone pine trees from the drought.

pine trees

From Florida come disturbing photographs of thousands of dead fish and marine mammals killed from a brutal red tide, exacerbated by warmer than normal temperatures. An iceberg is melting just off the coast of  Greenland threatening to raise sea water levels. Japan is experiencing its hottest summer on record, causing dozens of deaths and requiring cancellation of some traditional summer celebrations. The very existence of small islands is threatened and whole populations might be required to flee their homelands.  The monsoon season in India and Bangladesh brings more flooding than usual.

I watched the movie On the Beach when it was released in 1959. It left me disturbed for a long time. It’s the post-apocalyptic story of life in Australia after a nuclear war that has doomed most of the planet. Australia escapes the immediate destruction but has to live with the knowledge that the deadly radioactive cloud will be arriving at their doorsteps soon, dooming everyone and every living creature remaining. I am reluctant to admit that my sense of impending doom is tipping in that direction. We are seriously threatened. Crops are being affected. Species that can’t adapt will die off. In some quarters that means humankind.  I want to feel like climate change is being handled and addressed!

What the hell is wrong with us?

On top of the reality of confronting a most likely irreversible and catastrophic climate change, we have to suffer with a nutcase president who is a climate change denier. It might not feel so hopeless if our nation’s leaders spoke the truth and were leading the way to at least stabilize the environment.

So the truth is, I am pained. Not at an acute, not-able-to-function level, but more at the level of knowing deeply that life as we’ve known it, is in trouble. NOW.

I didn’t think the changes would be so obvious so soon. I guess I’d hoped I wouldn’t have to face the consequences in my lifetime. But here it is. I’m not comfortable with accepting this as the “new normal.” I support environmental groups who are working hard collectively to make change. But now, more seems to be required. Please tell me if you’ve personally found an answer that brings hope.

I think the Most Important question we must ask every candidate for political office is about their stand on climate change. If they waffle or deny, they’re toxic. If they’re concerned, ask what do they intend to do about it. Not just my life or your life depend upon recognizing the urgency of this issue. It’s the fate of our home planet and all the wonders it contains that are now at risk.

Guess who? inexperienced, bombastic, moron, #@%*#@g moron, impulsive, mentally ill, narcissist, bully, undignified, etc.

 

Watching the take-over of our country by the politicians currently in power is a bit like watching someone you’ve known and respected all your life suddenly become stinking drunk, unrecognizable and out of control.tchi You might watch in disbelief.  You might leave the room.  Both are choices.  There’s a litany of words written daily to describe the madman, now becoming all too familiar.  They do not inspire confidence:   inexperienced, bombastic, moron, #@%*#@g moron, impulsive, narcissist, bully, undignified.  And so it goes, month following month, week following week, day following day.  At the moment I’ve mostly chosen to look away,  or have left the room.  It’s just too painful and causes too much distress.

A few days ago, I thought my husband had a peculiar look on his face.  When I inquired what was the matter, his  voice was flat as he related the awful news of the Las Vegas massacre. I felt frozen in place.

Early on in our new dangerous political game, I found myself slightly amused by #45.  He just seemed like a bad joke, who would soon be forgotten.  Now, he’s toxic. Nothing remotely funny here.

Trump’s in person response to hurricane survivors in Puerto Rico? Toss them a roll of paper towels.  How to deal with this disgusting behavior NOW as a responsible citizen?  The mid terms feel decades away right now.

I was numb when I learned of  the recent massacre  in Las Vegas.  I’ve been beaten down by the daily outrages.  Numbness is not a helpful response to a friggin’ massacre.   It’s come because I know too well we probably haven’t reached the ultimate low point that might cause enough outrage to get significant gun control legislation passed. It’s come because I no longer recognize what tries to pass for leadership in my country of birth.   What’s happened to our country? Are we past the point of no return?  Is the only answer at the moment to give the stage to the lunatics and hope at some point they’ll wear themselves out?  Can they ever recognize that their votes and support for Trump et al have raised a threatening tide for everyone?

I cringe when I read about our president lying with impunity, annointing himself daily with the gold dust he requires to polish his egomania.

I’ve started to live in fear that we might be on the edge of a nuclear war with Korea.

Our environment, so dependent on humanity to set it right, is at the tipping point.

Whales are dying.  Just read that two days ago.

North Korea is flying rockets over Japan, my much-loved second home.

China is filling in the blanks at the openings our loss of leadership has provided.

I don’t want to listen to the smug talking heads on cable news assess the crisis du jour, although, when I do tune in, I foolishly hope that I might learn something from one of them. Hasn’t happened yet.

It might be time to stick my head in the sand, cover my ears and scream loudly to block out the all-pervasive irritants.  It might be time to make more art.  It might be time to plant a garden, read a book, or write a more positive blog.

Forgive me, if I’ve brought you down.

I remind myself that I’ve lived through challenging times at other points in my life, but previous experience did not prepare me for today’s threatening reality. I am capable of focusing on the good and the hopeful. I can breathe deeply. The man is just too dangerous to try to ignore, I’m afraid.

“This too shall pass,” I tell myself a little too often.

May it pass quickly!  and peacefully.  May I learn some new coping skills.

 

 

 

Unconscious White Girl

My own awareness of racism in America and within myself awakened very slowly.  I still harbour some shame about that unconsciousness and unconcern that existed within me. Current times bring that personal history all to the fore and require not only national re-examination but personal soul searching as well.

The city I grew up in had a very small population of poor black factory and domestic workers.  As I remember, I never encountered students or teachers of other races all through my public education.  The only black person I knew was a middle-aged woman named Ella Mae who had moved to Mass. from Ga.  She cleaned my parent’s house once a week and cooked legendarily good sweet potatoes for us at Thanksgiving. I never asked her about her life.

My parents referred to blacks as many first generation American Jews did at that time as “schvartzes.” I knew it was a vaguely derogatory term but never questioned it until years later.  It is the only German or Yiddish word for black, but there is no doubt in my mind that what might have begun as a language issue for new immigrants to America, continued long past its expiration date. Continue reading “Unconscious White Girl”

Today I Wept

I’ve become an observer.  A person who is witnessing what she once believed was unimaginable in her country of birth.  A person whose eyes and ears are open, but whose feet are frozen to the ground.  A person whose ears listen in disbelief to distortions and lies; whose eyes are repelled by the sights she sees of hatred and animosity.

Many female friends and acquaintances are in a flurry of activity.  They’re knitting warm pink hats with pussycat ears.  They’re gathering steam as they gather together.  I am a study of silence.  Their walks are not mine.  I will watch from afar, but I cannot respond to the call right now.

My voice no longer has anything that feels relevant to add to the surrounding cacophony.  Not a shred of activism or urge to activate rises to the surface of my being.  I sit and stare ahead of me, with little motivation to do more than that.  I need quiet.  It’s all I can do right now.

At last, I wept today for our loss of a leader who represents humankind’s better angels.  I wept for the loss of a leader who could always be counted on to remind us of who we really are and what we’re capable of.  I wept for the loss of decency, for the loss of compassion and for the loss of inspiration. I wept for people’s inability to recognise the gift we’d been given.  I wept for our need to walk through the woods without a guide to shine some light on the path ahead.  I wept for our planet, threatened from all sides and now without a vital spokesperson.

We all respond to life in our own ways, in our own time.  Today, it’s just moving through the loss and praying it doesn’t get much darker before some light returns.