Suggestions for human success
On the Congressionally Mandated US Climate Report, 23 November 2018
There is a disturbing parallel between the blindness of Congress to the facts about Vietnam in the 1970’s and the facts about climate change today. After Daniel Ellsberg’s release of the Pentagon Papers in 1971, which detailed the “saturation bombing” of Cambodia and Laos without the knowledge of our Senators and Representatives, there remained in the public mind the delusion that we could somehow win the war in Vietnam and save all of Southeast Asia from the greedy clutches of Communism. The “domino effect,” as Senators called it. We went on to elect Richard Nixon, who had a “secret plan” to win the war, and we continued in a tragic, losing effort for three more years until the fall of Saigon in 1975.
During those three years, an enormous groundswell of public protest brought hundreds of thousands of citizens, mostly young people, into the streets, chanting, screaming, and demanding an end to the hopeless cause that was the Vietnam War. Priests threw blood on Selective Service files. Buddhist monks set themselves on fire. Protestors blocked highways to stop military convoys. Young people mailed their draft cards back to their Selective Service offices. Statisticians tell us that what finally created a majority was that by 1973, about 75% of the country had direct or indirect connections with fallen soldiers in Vietnam.
The protests worked. Congressmen desperately railed against the persistent harassment to shore up their income streams from the military-industrial lobbies, but eventually realized that they couldn’t get the votes regardless of the money spent, and they finally knuckled under and supported the vast majority of the populace. Rather than a “domino effect,” the Soviet Union eventually fell, and we can visit Laos and Vietnam any time we want. The U.S. lost the war, but won the peace.
Yesterday the congressionally mandated U. S. Climate Change Report was issued, and I felt the same outrage that I felt in 1972, when Nixon won the election and promised further bloodshed in a losing cause. The jury is in, the facts on the ground are clear, the effects are already seen in many places worldwide, and there are clear alternatives to our current lifestyles that could be helpful. All that is missing today is the enormous groundswell of commitment to the solution by the young people of America.
This should be the start of the protests. We can sit by and allow our deeply compromised President to blunder along, denying the obvious effects of climate change, or we can hit the streets, call Congressional representatives, and demand a serious, coordinated effort to identify and support alternative energy sources and less wasteful lifestyles. The current administration’s ignorance and defiance of scientific information will ensure that the U.S. will bring up the tail in the world’s effort to address climate change. But sensible action now can blunt the worst effects of this mess. It’s time to demand the attention of Congress. Time to shout, chant, and get on the phone.
One last thought. When I call my Senator (Cory Gardner) I rarely leave a message. I call and call and call until I get an aide. Then I make a calm, sensible case and possibly change the thinking of one small potato at a time. We didn’t have to convince the generals in Vietnam. We just had to help the average GI to see reality.
People don’t usually appreciate how hard it is to build a good trail. Often, the process begins by removing fallen trees. This is particularly taxing if they weigh over ten tons, which many of them do. I strained my knee on this one.
But I was able to stand this one back up, luckily.
And I was able to push these apart so they wouldn’t fall. This is the best strategy, but you might have to hold them for a few years while they adjust.
Sometimes you can just bend them down and out of the way.
Some people cut them and push the halves to either side of the trail, like I’m doing here.
Other times, a flying kick move is necessary to make the logs move.
And this is to say nothing of the rocks. OMG, some of them require enormous strength to move off the trail. Luckily, I’m up to it, although I shook the ground with this one, which blurred the photograph slightly. Sorry.
I had to pull and slide this one across another rock. Very hard. Tremendously hard.
And on rare occasions, you have to use a karate chop. Can you see my black belt?
I once gave this lecture at the high school where I taught for many years, during Morning Meeting on Monday. I ran the projector from the back of the auditorium, speaking into a mike, and I could hear the freshmen saying, “Oh, give me a break. Who is he kidding? He couldn’t move those things!” So I added to my monologue. “Some people doubt my ability to do these amazing things, but here it is, before your very eyes.” Thanks to Katie for taking these photos while offering encouragement while I worked.
We do this every summer, putting up enough peaches to last through the year. This year, Crest Havens from C & R Farms in Palisade. Great fun! An effective way to distract ourselves from the raging hurricane in Texas and Trump’s destruction of the beneficial aspects of government.
Many weeks ago, while watching TV at night with Mimi, my 92-year old mother-in-law, I noticed a shocking number of medications being advertised. Most of them were prescription, for which they’d say, “Ask you doctor if…” The sheer number of meds overwhelmed me. I started writing them down. Here is the list.
So, whatever ailing you, there’s a cure here somewhere.
My father had a wonderful sense of humor, much of which involved language and word play. When we were little kids, he used to declare, “I have a falubus vocaluberry, made up of volunimus words.”
We’d say, “You mean fabulous.” And he’d say, “Exactly.” So language was up for grabs in our house.
He also teased us with some of the irregular forms of words, especially when verbs become nouns. For example, he would say, “Look, if you deduce, you come up with a deduction. So if you elude, you come up with an eluction.”
At first, I corrected this. “Deduce and elude are not a parallel set. If you use deduce and produce, you get deduction and production.”
But he answered, “If you enlist, you have made an enlistment, so if you resist, haven’t you made a resistment? And if you desist—”
“Yeah, okay, desistment.”
“Don’t reducify my eluctment of terms. If you retire, you’ve entered retirement, so if you desire, you’ve entered desirement. If you write verse, you’re a versifier, so if you do worse, you’re a worsifier. And if you live in a house, you’re a housifier. Get it?”
We’d roll our eyes, but it loosened up the mood. “You’re a disasterifier of English,” I’d tell him.
“I’m just sophisticationalizing it.”
So I’m just saying that if I mess up in my writing, it’s not my fault.