Commentary: In a quiet way, at 5:30 this morning, I felt as close as I've come in this lifetime to a nervous breakdown. I won't list the tasks, obligations and problems that loomed large. I take on too much, most of it well-intentioned, then screw it all up. And in the midst of that, I gotta write a newspaper column? I don't feel like a person with a sufficient understanding of much of anything to presume to speak to others!
I can't even tell how much of my paralyzing sadness was local in nature, personal, and how much was the oppressive cacophany of disastrous headlines and radio news.
Trump and Bannon seem to be taking us out of the Paris Agreement on climate change, ignoring advice from scientists, citizens, and Fortune-500 businesses. Intelligence officials fear sharing classified information with Trump. European leaders say the U.S. is no longer a dependable ally, with regard to climate but also Russia. Putin robs his country blind, and Trump admires him. Meanwhile Russia and China gleefully take advantage of the opportunities Trump provides.
Trump tweets that Hillary Clinton “blames everyone but herself, and refuses to say she was a terrible candidate.” There's likely some truth in that; but this clown has a country to run. Why's he wasting energy sticking it to his defeated foe, like a peewee-league football player celebrating a touchdown? Can we imagine any previous president acting this way?
Trump repeats like a mantra that he'll end the “war on coal” and decimate the Environmental Protection Agency. But coal jobs fell by two-thirds in the decades before the EPA came around. Coal workers lost their jobs because of economic conditions and mine-owners' decisions, and they ain't coming back. Trump claims he'll recover those jobs by further polluting our environment. That's so silly that even his own chief economist says coal “doesn't make much sense anymore.”
Fortunately I have several pails of water to take to the compost bin, housed in an old goat pen some distance from the house. It's often a healing walk. This morning the quail repeating his long, piercing call seems to be saying we'll survive. In the compost, a host of worms are performing their alchemy. The desert is still wearing its marvelous, post-rainfall scent. The sun lurks behind the mountains, and the air is cool and fresh.
Back near the house, families of quail surround the feed block and water bowls. Black-throated sparrows and red-capped house finches are busy at the feeders. So many baby quail and the sweet wet scent of the desert speak of renewal. Seasons pass. So, perhaps, will this political season – though not without severely damaging our country and our Earth.
I can enjoy the bustling but peaceful scene out back or focus on its violent and tragic aspects. When a quail flew – fatally -- into our window, its mate kept up a mournful wail for days. We've watched a bullsnake climb into a tree searching for eggs – and curve-billed thrashers kill bullsnakes.
Shall I paralyze myself grieving over Trump's ugliness – or consider him like the rain refreshing the desert? His threats to our world make each moment in that world more precious. He bragged he was a unifier. Unwittingly, he is. He's brought together many people of good will to oppose him. There's an appealing energy to these new groups who are giving Trumps and Pearces a hard time. Perhaps, as the civil rights movement and a stupid war turned many of my generation altruistic, this too will spawn needed changemakers.
Maybe their good will trump Trump's harm.