Hate is a poison
Love is a remedy
Singing out like the sweetest of melodies
Hope is a ghost in the deepest of memories
Stronger than ten of me
Fear is the enemy
In the dark and it creeps like a shark
In the coldest sea
In the deepest part but
Hope is the beat in the oldest heart
A hand in a hand and a brand new start ….
Love is the truest of words
Love is the last winter bird
Love is the only song I’ll sing
~Passenger, Coins in a Fountain
This past week and two days has been a mood swinging period for me. Along with a great many other people, it appears.
We have such crazy hopes going, those of us who were knocked over by recent US election results. Hopes that since the winning candidate flip flops a lot he will eventually “do the right thing” by minorities, women, the LGBT community, understanding the science of climate change and why it is so vital to protect our planet from ourselves.
Then come the cold fingers of realization to remind us of that old Native American story about the person who picked up a snake to carry it away from a danger, only to be bitten by it upon setting the creature down in a better location. “You knew I was a snake when you picked me up…” it hisses.
But, but… Doesn’t each human being have the intrinsic ability to go suddenly beyond themselves, to get a glimpse of the greater good? To be inspired?
It is heartening to see a lot of people hard at work, building bridges with others who may have voted differently yet have much in common. The ones who believe in human rights for people of all colors, genders, sexual preferences, religions, disabilities, who believe in wholehearted support of the Paris agreement, the ones who have lost not only their jobs, but their very way of life that goes back generations in coal mining country, who have had their jobs sent overseas. I was one of the latter back in 2006, when AOL closed down its American call centers, sending all the calls we once took to India.
The ones in rural areas of the country, including the western states where I have spent decades, fed up with universal federal rules applied to their lives and very particular livelihoods…
And those from any subset who reach across ideological borders to say to one another, “We are all Americans here.”
There is no going back, for anybody, to the days when coal was king, women and minorities “knew their place” and LGBT people kept their heads down in public. There is also no going back to the days when Planet Earth kept a normal temperature, species were not going extinct massively, glaciers were ice and the oceans had predictable habits around shorelines.
No, there is never any going backwards for the human race, we are left to pick our way through the present towards other ways of life. We can choose what to honor though there is no choice but to deal with these matters or live in a moribund state of nostalgia. We choose only how much to work together or put ourselves in isolation, stagnation, the trouble that comes from trying to insist that there is only one angle for seeing things in a 360º circle of possibilities.
Maybe it took this one Very Unusual US President Elect in order to vividly bring into the open long neglected needs and set aside aspirations of disparate parts of the US population? As some rise, why are others losing out?
On such bridge building I stake my happiness in life. As a Baha’i woman it is my core belief that the human race is one family, with a common God, on one small planet among countless galaxies with endless suns, many of which have their own planets — and possibilities.
But for over a week I have been subject to periods of very dark near despair in my concern for our minorities who now face an Administration that has placed someone closely allied with white supremacists in its midst, with the prospect of the US going idiotically backwards on the Paris agreements — becoming the laughing stock of the enlightened world beyond our borders. A world in which fossil fuels will be needed less and less as jobs and hopes for a healthy future are shifting fast into alternative energies.
Why is it so hard for some to see that there are jobs and new possibilities that are simply different from what we are accustomed to, to historic ways of life? Change is the only constant of life. What good reason is there to assert that skills we acquired in lost industries can’t be adapted into new ways of living? We must encourage one another patiently in getting through times of difficulties, knowing that we, too, could very well find ourselves in similar circumstances, rather suddenly.
Don’t much care about being a laughing stock for the more scientifically educated nations on earth, but I’m passionate about the need of ALL of us to do our parts in preserving what we can of life on Earth. Doing our parts, to me, means including everyone’s well being, not just our own.
But there have been distractions from these larger thoughts for me, which are buoying my variable spirits.
For one thing, I have at last bought a wheelchair van, now being shipped to me from Georgia. It’s a 2010 Dodge Caravan. When it gets here it will be set up so that the driver’s seat can be removed, allowing me to drive from my wheelchair. It will have hand controls, a thing I have always used to drive. There’s a lowered floor and a side ramp for me and the wheelchair to go in an out. Space for Elf and Opus’s traveling crates.
Plus — and this is very big — it looks as though the lengthy difficulty in getting new batteries and a footrest for my ailing power wheelchair is drawing towards the finish line. More on that as facts come in.
Another source of good humor is the January move to Fresno. January will be the month of several important changes — which I can’t entirely discuss quite yet — and they are very good ones! For my part, Elf, Opus and I will find a good apartment with dog walking opportunities. My dear daughter, with whom I now live, will be nearby.
I hope to learn something I currently have no understanding about — how life is for people whose livelihoods are in the middle of Big Agriculture in the US. This, for me, will also be a return to desert (well, semi-desert) country with extremely hot summers and cool winters. Fresno features a great deal of winter fog, known to locals as Tule fog, a thing New Mexico sees only rarely, briefly. This, too, will be interesting to get used to.
One thing the recent election brought home to me is how very much a bubble the Silicon Valley and greater San Francisco area are, how different lives are here than from most of the US. It has been extremely pleasant, being here from early June among people whose lives center, or have done, on high technology. People who, confronted with some kind of problem, tend to get a thoughtful look rather than a worried, angry or sad look, and go to work on figuring out a solution in their heads or via the web.
A lot of people in the Silicon Valley have their lives so aligned with science that it is difficult to relate to those whose lives are driven by other forces. With those who do not live so close to a place where ravages of climate change are only too plain — California’s Central Valley. Where I’m going soon. Drought country, a place where people driven by science are seeking new ways of getting/reallocating the water needed for growing crops to feed much of the country and other parts of the world.
As a person with an active left brain I appreciate the ascendency of science around here, while my imaginative right brained side has empathy for people who only see the destruction of their traditional lifestyles and livelihoods by the perceived threat of globalization, the need of the human race to deal with man-made changes in Earth’s air that is bringing on a domino tumble of systems.
These things are bigger than we are, that’s for sure.
This is the most comfortable and, I admit, privileged, place I’ve ever lived for all reasons but financial — rents are higher than any other place in the country, and still rising steadily. There is no end in sight for the contributions of high tech to the US economy, so there is no likelihood of affordable housing in this area, either.
In the condos where I now live we have a great many elderly German people, some Russians, numerous Asians and some from India, along with Caucasians such as myself.
In Fresno there will be these and more, including lots more black Americans than are present in the Silicon Valley. Diversity amongst humans is a thing I love to be part of.
That and the lower rents are Very Good Things. Right up there with a wheelchair van and a fixed up wheelchair. Yay!
Meanwhile, here is Opus enjoying a good cuddle with friend Paco.