The dissonance of spring ’17

The past few months have been difficult.

Spring came to N. California with uncharacteristic exuberance this year.  To step outside is to be greeted with hordes of flashy blooms against a vivid background of green.  I’ve discovered that once you really tune into the frequency of plant life it becomes a channel that isn’t easily changed. And this spring the message being broadcast reached me loud and clear: after so many years of struggling, water is plentiful again and we are THRIVING!  Even in moments when I have attempted to focus on my internal talk show, daphne, jasmine, wisteria, and others have accosted me with their scent, bringing me back to the theme of this year’s programming: look at all this life what could possibly be more important?

If this were almost any other year I would be drunk on the bounty of springtime. But this year spring has been marked by another, far more unpleasant, station broadcasting messages of conflict and hostility around the clock.  I don’t know anyone who isn’t feeling the effects of our current political climate but I’m having an especially hard time adapting.  I’m sorry to say that the problems run far deeper than the bumbling idiot in the White house. I know that a lot of damage can be done in 4 (or, god forbid, 8) years but one administration is only that, a structure that can be replaced in the near future. The real challenge for me has been the way that our current administration has pushed me to finally face the many hard truths that my comfort and prosperity have allowed me to tune out for so many years.

I’ve always chosen to believe in human social progress as a linear path towards democracy, tolerance and civilization but it is clear to me that none of those goals are guaranteed.  I finally see that the forces of exploitation will never be easily restrained.  That rights gained are easily lost again.  That phrases like never again and it can’t happen here are just comforting tales that we tell ourselves in order to make it easier to get out of bed in the morning. That horrible things can be perpetrated by almost anyone the moment another group of humans can be designated as “other”.  And that, in their drive for control, wealth and power are destined to destroy the very things that they value.

There is so much talk about the divisions in this country, the “war” between liberals and conservatives.  But I think that those categories are largely meaningless constructions.  The real conflict is between those who believe in the struggle for a civil society based on rights and laws and those who are resigned to a life defined by a few individuals vying for alpha male status, eager to display their atomic plumage in a quest for territorial dominance.

Sadly, the “war” part does feel terribly accurate these days- a war between two sides with totally mismatched weapons.

And right I think I know who is winning.