I am finding myself working hard on a major writing project, which is evolving into a book about Chico’s wonderful Bidwell Park, a very large space that includes both developed and wild places. It is a complicated and fascinating story that dives into a lot of issues about how people see nature and relate to the land around them. My own bias (no surprise, I am sure) is very much towards preservation of nature, but I know I will need to talk to people coming from other places and presenting them as fairly as I can.
So I find myself writing and lacking the energy for blogging but I need to get past that. Blogging is a kind of journal, a way to record the many thoughts that flash through me. One theme sticks with me. Kate and I recently spent 5 days camping in Plumas County, a region in the Northern Sierras east of Chico. It is a wonderful area, full of mountains, waterfalls, lakes, forests, full of summer wildflowers and butterflies. It is bear country, of course, but we didn’t encounter any furry friends other than seeing scat and places where they had ripped logs apart searching for grubs.
As much as we like living in Chico, it was a shock to come back. We had avoided hearing news for most of the trip, and we returned to the peak of the crisis around Trump’s policies about immigration – not that this has receeded but it isn’t getting quite as much press as a week ago. We both wanted to return to the lakes and waterfalls, a place that really did seem separate and pure – that is an illusion, of course, a topic for another day. But the spots we visited were wonderful and we miss them.
So here we are back in the midst of political chaos. The right wing blogger Alex Jones put out something about how liberals and progressives were going to start a civil war on July 4. This shows he knows nothing about us – for example, why would people (like me) who dislike guns and know nothing about them ever dream we could go up against forces like the NRA? Besides that, why would we dream that something as self destructive as a civil war would accomplish anything positive instead of sending everything into a faster tailspin than it is tumbling into already?
No, the liberal/left is not looking at starting a civil war, and that didn’t happen – that said, the liberal/left is a mess. The level of irrational screaming and shouting is reaching a peak, and many people are saying that it is time to stop being polite and to aggressively put out our positions. This amounts to personal attacks, shouting people down irrationally, breaking all ties with people from different political perspectives, etc. etc. etc. What is the point of all this?
I am not a la-de-da dreamer who thinks we can all sit down and reason together and all will be groovy, I’ve been a few places. I do think that the strategy of insulting people, assigning blame where it is not deserved, and coming off like self righteous jerks is counter productive. I understand frustration and rage, but I would say that we need to deal with these feelings privately, screaming into a pillow is one idea, and then try to present ideas calmly, creatively and rationally, meeting people where they are coming from but challenging them.
This is hard and I have to be honest and say I am not doing it. My organizing days were in other lifetimes, I see myself as a writer/educator now. But I know there are others out there who understand that behaving like jerks will not get us past the crisis we are in and help put out a progressive agenda. Somehow I hope we can all come together and share thoughts.
Those are my thoughts for today. Now I want to go back to the mountains.