Commentary: This morning I feel schizophrenic – though only under the secondary definition: “a state characterized by the coexistence of contradictory or incompatible elements.” Life this year inspires intense gratitude and satisfaction; but also frequent daily moments of hopelessness.
It's a beautiful, sunny morning in New Mexico. My wife and our cat and I are healthy. I've had a good morning, writing, and will play pickleball shortly. We live in a vibrant community where the city council cares about improving lives, even making our city walkable and bikeable! Our new community radio station is drawing a tremendous response, the soups at Mountain View Market Co+op are incredibly tasty and healthy, and the near-full moon above our mountains has been stunning.
But we live in a desert, during a drought, and people keep planting waterhog pecan trees to sell pecans to China.
Each morning's online Times Digest is full of statements and actions by the national government that are not only unwise and inconsistent but absurd and downright dangerous. Lacking an adult attention span, the Commander-in-Chief makes significant decisions on impulse, having seen something on TV or heard something from his most recent visitor. He childishly insists on a military parade military officials don't want. While staff saying they're still checking on the legalities, he announces he's going to jack up tariffs, sending even his Republican allies scrambling for cover and tanking the stock market.
Donald Trump is politically schizophrenic: he strongly opposes chain visas, for example – in which folks get to live here because a relative has become a citizen. Like the case of Maria, a Mexican immigrant who worked as a model, married a rich guy, and got citizenship under the “Einstein Visa” program, even though she was a college dropout with no discernible intellectual or artistic accomplishments, then got her parents Guillermo and Hortencia legal residency. Oops! That was Melania, from Slovenia.
He strongly opposes gun control, and rescinds regulations keeping guns away from people officially declared incompetent; then he repeatedly says that mental health is the problem, not guns; then he proclaims we need gun control – until a “come-to-Jesus” meeting with a top NRA lobbyist. He's a fat old guy who ducked the draft when he was young but would rush into a school, unarmed, to defend students against a young man with an automatic weapon. He's so tough he can't stand up to Vladimir Putin. He's a nationalist who won't even instruct officials to confront known Russian interference in our elections.
Still, we are so fortunate! We don't live in a war zone. Many of us have ample food and medical care, and we're working to extend those to others – along with better mental health care. Our community cares about tolerance, helping the less fortunate, and the arts. We have an international film festival, a farmers' market where committed farmers sell healthy food, and we're small enough to allow for real friendships and even pleasant conversations with people we disagree with. We're slowly housing the homeless. We have local businesses like the Shed, whose owners offer patrons tasty food and also help feed the poor. We have a fine symphony, and great local artists. And a Catholic bishop who washes Dreamers' feet. We have problems, but we're working on them.
And those mountains!
So I'm grateful. But how deep and permanent are the wounds from experimenting with a clown in the Casa Blanca?