Thursday, December 01, 2016

After Thoughts

Sometimes coming home after a journey reminds us of the value of the place we are returning to. Even though this trip to a corner of Europe was a delight for me in so many ways, it was good to come home to our patch, the darling black dog,

the garden still providing tomatoes and squash, the neighbors and friends who make living here a true blessing and the beauty that is everywhere I look.

This is not to say that recent events haven't touched me. I'm lucky to live in this lovely bubble in Northern California, but I was not surprised that the national election went the way that it did. The drums of hate have been sounding for years. In California the former majority is now a minority and that doesn't sit well with some. Our area and much of our state has been able to climb up in the last eight years to the beginnings of prosperity again, but that is not true for large swaths of the U.S. There are still a whole lot of folks who feel like they didn't get invited to the party...and some used to party hearty.

Many have willfully come to the point where the truth is mutable, altered to fit our perspective no matter how illogical that might make it. Following the law or the Constitution or tradition is only done if those things match what you want to do. This is a scary, dangerous place to be. Consider what Timothy Snyder, the Housum Professor of History at Yale University writes about truth. "To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights." My wallet isn't very big. Better get some powerful sunglasses.

Although the president-elect, the standard bearer, the front man, is clearly, by his own words, racist, sexist, anti-gay, anti-disabled, anti-immigrant, a cheat and a liar, that doesn't necessarily mean that every person who voted for him has all those attributes themselves. I can't actually understand ever voting for someone who does have them, but democracy hasn't always made sense under the best of circumstances. Still, its what we have.

Spending the month of November writing about fun times abroad that happened before the national election has been a way of hunkering down to give myself some time to absorb the changes we are now seeing.

A hopeful sign in all of this is that more people are showing up, standing up, speaking out, putting their money...and time...where their mouth is. Some of the younger people in this country seem to finally understand that freedoms can't be taken for granted and, often, have to be re-won by generation after generation. Hope that this understanding lasts past the frenzy of Christmas and colors our actions in 2017. There will need to be steadfast action to counter all the hate. And I'm not talking about the kind of action that involves guns. Action to bring about less hate and more love is what is needed now.

Perhaps the younger Americans will find more time for volunteering now. The gray hairs have been despairing of who will take on the mantel of so many causes and good works, as they grow tired and die off. Perhaps large numbers of those who are shocked and those who are only somewhat pleased by the election outcome will also become involved year round, not just at election time, with the political parties, so that these parties more closely resemble the middle of the road where so many of us actually live. That would be an interesting change. A multitude of parties sounds good in theory, but we still currently have two major parties and they both need a sea change. We still need for love to trump hate.

I'm one of the gray hairs who already have volunteer commitments in the community and in the state of California. The work I help with influences lives across the country and looks to the future. If you have been sitting on the sidelines and want to now jump in, I'll tell you a get more out of volunteering than you put in. Not monetarily, of course, but try it, really give of yourself, even when it is inconvenient, and you'll see what I mean. Looking toward a better future, one good person at a time.


  1. Reading your November posts has been by way of taking a little vacation -- from reality. And I've really enjoyed it, even when I haven't commented. So, thank you.

    And, thank you for this... it has been an interesting autumn, and this is the kind of thing we need to hear as we go forward: that we WILL go forward, and that those on the fences may finally have heard the call to get up and get involved.

    1. Tanita, I always think that you are reading my posts :) Guess I'm that egotistical. I read yours and don't comment, either, but they always make me think and one of them got me to thinking that led to this post, so, thank you!
      I truly believe that we will go forward. The world has become a much tighter-knit and egalitarian place than it was even 50 or 26 years ago. Evil still exists and can dominate, but the concerted efforts of good people can mitigate that. Maybe the younger generations will do more than mitigate it. I think younger people have suffered from the actions (and incactions) of the baby boomers. This is hopefully the last presidential election where the candidates will be this old. Those younger citizens need to pick up the baton and bring their savvy, their zest, their intelligence and hard work to it.