Interesting Times

This whole “living in interesting times” thing is exhausting
– John Scalzi on Twitter

I’ve seen several variations on this theme on social media lately. No question that “May you live in interesting times” is not something said by anyone who wishes you well.

On the one hand, I’m very glad to see that Congress is moving to impeach the con man who is destroying our country. With luck this will also help ensure we have something that resembles a fair election this time, especially with the help of organizations like Fair Fight Action (which Stacey Abrams started) and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. (Good places to put your donation dollars, if you have some.)

Greta Thunberg is waking up a lot of people. Folks have started to call her “strident,” which means she’s being heard and no longer being patted on the head like officialdom is wont to do with young people and women who speak truth.

Women everywhere are recognizing how much power they have. I’m thrilled to be associated with ESD Global, an organization working with everyone from those in refugee camps to teenagers to those who attend high-powered conferences to destroy the myth that women can’t take care of themselves.

Here in Oakland, we have any number of people building things that can change the world, from permanent housing co-ops to restorative justice (the person doing that just got a MacArthur grant).

And some of the Democrats running for president could put our country back on track – not just defeat the con man, but build the kind of country we need.

On the other hand, I’m already exhausted. And nothing’s going to be easy.

Impeachment is coming, but the con man occupying our White House will fight tooth and nail in his ugly way. We will have to put up with this while pushing the House (and, one hopes, even some Republicans in the Senate) to do their jobs.

Getting rid of the con man isn’t the only thing we need to do to rebuild the United States into the country it ought to be, but as Elie Mystal, who is a strong advocate for the kind of change we really need, pointed out on Twitter the other day,

Trump is a unique threat to the functioning of American democracy. He’s an international criminal who profiteers off the Presidency.

Addressing the climate crisis is the hardest challenge. It would be hard enough if everyone agreed that we faced a crisis and was at least trying to do the right thing about it. But fossil fuel companies and the other big enterprises that are the big carbon emitters aren’t going to change unless they’re forced to. Meanwhile, far too many people in positions of power continue to deny there’s a problem, so we have to fight them, too.

We need dramatic changes in our policies and systems to truly reduce the damage we’re doing. Getting all that to work is enough of a task by itself.

Violence rooted in misogyny and white supremacy isn’t going away without a struggle, either. People are living on the streets and all the new housing going up is aimed at the upper ten percent of the population. The undercutting of government that began in the 80s has damaged our education system.

I haven’t even mentioned ongoing wars and people drumming up new wars and nuclear weapons. Or autocrats running so many other countries besides ours and doing things so badly. And probably a thousand other challenges out there.

I see so many people working to build the kind of world we need, but at the same time the destructive forces keep throwing new curves into the mix.

I wonder what it would be like to live in boring times. I’d love to find out.

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Interesting Times — 7 Comments

  1. I’m just exhausted, too. I go to bed exhausted and I wake up already exhausted because everything I left behind when I went to sleep is just lurking there to jump me the moment I open my eyes. I’d love to spend a day just being a tree, or something. You know, thinking only about sunlight and deep roots and the wind in my leaves.

    I just can’t help feeling a little upset that the whole impeachment iceberg hit the good state ship Titanic RIGHT NOW, though – just when someone like Greta has started to succeed in waking up the world to an existential threat like its climate future. I can’t help getting frustrated when that breath of good wind is going to get completely stolen in the newscycle now by the orange one and all his nefariousness. Even this, he has managed to wreck, just by existing. I just hope there are more kids like Greta out there and that they won’t take that silencing lying down…

  2. Being a tree does sound nice, except trees are at risk, too.

    I tend to think the impeachment actions and the greater attention to the climate crisis that Greta Thunberg and other young people have made possible are going to move forward in tandem. We don’t get the luxury of just one crisis at a time these days.

    Which, of course, is why we’re exhausted.

  3. Thanks, Nancy, for the suggestions about donations to good organizations. I do tend to make fairly frequent donations, though not usually for that much money. One of the first things I thought of when I heard that 45 had been elected was, “This is really going to cost me a lot of money.” And it has.

    Low-cost cooperative housing for POC sounds like a great idea. Another housing project i would like to see started would be co-operative housing for older people. Do you know anything about that?

    • I know that there are some people doing that. I think there are some co-ops, perhaps in Michigan, that are set up for seniors. It would obviously be a great idea in Florida, where you have a significant population of older folks who retired down there. Not everybody can afford a condo and anyway the more community you have, the better off you are.

      It is important in Oakland to make housing available for the people who are being pushed out by gentrification. I hope at some point to live in a building that’s part of the East Bay PREC. As long as we’re reasonably healthy, we want to live in a building with folks of all ages.

    • BTW, in my experience the best way to get a co-op is to develop one yourself. If you have a few friends who might also be interested, get together and talk about it. It’s a lot of work, but it’s possible. (If you decide you want to look into this more, I can find you some resources.)

  4. The media is necessarily driven by the Story of the Day. It is the nature of the business. But we are not the media. We can do more than one thing at a time. There is never a convenient time to have a bad president, just like there’s never a good time to have cancer. We can survive this.

    • Yes, we must do more than one thing at a time. And everyone doing something is important, even though it sometimes feels like it doesn’t add up to much. I note that my sweetheart is working on energy efficiency as it relates to hot water. His steady efforts may mean that future California buildings use much less energy to give us that very important commodity. Given our population, that can be significant energy savings. There are lots of people doing work like that, and we need all of them.