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.



3 thoughts on “The dissonance of spring ’17

  1. I have been reading a lot of books lately that cover different aspects of our fucked system, and the common thread always seems to be that some people just want more more more. It doesn’t totally surprise me that people will do horrible things to get more more more, ’cause I know we are super good at justifying our actions, but I don’t get the Always More part. Of course, I have more than enough, but I haven’t always, and I would be able to go back to less, and I know that while enough is necessary, more than enough often decreases happiness rather than increasing it… I think we are maybe two different species. It will probably turn out to be about gut microbes. Yes, life flourishes all around us, and we have delicate partnerships as well as ecosystem destroying monsters. Like the bishop’s weed in my yard–it wants to grow no matter what, and kills everything else in the yard. It reminds me of our own 1%. It’s like, why do you want to frack my national park, bishop’s weed? Can’t we say enough is enough? Bishop’s weed don’t care.
    And yes, you can only contain bishop’s weed, you can’t eradicate it… but like my garlic mustard picking experience, the containment is a concrete action we can all take. Don’t despair. You are a huge inspiration and a real force for good in the world, and are raising two beautiful boys who are as well.

  2. Thanks Bunny. I guess I just really want to sit down with that Bishop’s weed and explain how the many other plants in your yard support a diversity of life, not to mention beauty and yummy stuff for the human family (the people doing the watering) and, you know, strike a deal that allows it some space to thrive while respecting the space of others. But I know what the response is: “I have the capacity to take this whole damn yard! Who’s going to stop me? You and your pc crap about the rights of pollinators and those 3 annoying children to pick fresh food? I will take over Bunny’s entire yard because I CAN!!!!!!”.

    As you say, the only answer is to just keep on picking.

  3. This is so right on. I love love your reshaping of categories at the end: 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. AMEN.

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