The Equinox of Our Discontent, Colltalers
The United Nations Climate Action Summit that begins today in New York City has the oversized task of disarming a bomb that, in a sense, has already been detonated. That is, either the world agrees on the right strategy, or we’ll all be caught on its fallout.
The summit brings world leaders to a country that briefly led the climate change fight but has since become a pariah due to its unhinged president. He’ll surely try to hijack public attention and may even stage another one of his crazy stunts. Brace yourself.
Many people, however, are out to challenge this state of affairs. Last Friday and the next, children and adults have been asked to walk out of school and work, to strike for climate action. The first of this two-punch combination brought millions to the streets of major cities around the world, determined to keep the pressure on; we either rally to save civilization or learn how to swim.
The movement has many leaders and organizations, and at least one now globally recognized face: that of Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager that skipped school every Friday of 2018 to sit in front of the Parliament and demand climate change action. She’s come to symbolize the depth and single-mindedness that’s required at this juncture: we will need to do more, much more.
But as inspiring as her eloquence and candor can be, Thunberg’s made clear that it’s not her, but science that needs to be heard. ‘We have not come here to beg world leaders to care. You have ignored us in the past and you will ignore us again. You’ve run out of excuses and we’re running out of time. We’ve come here to let you know that change is coming, whether you like it or not.’
She’s as direct and straightforward as some world leaders are corrupt and neglectful. Suddenly, sincerity is a fresh weapon, one more to enroll people in the struggle against this unfolding catastrophe. And even better, among the legions now heeding to her call, and lucky to be living in functioning democracies, there are likely thousands of new voters. That’s the kind of math we like.
As for Trump as a dangerous rogue, there’s no surprise, given the appalling record of broken environmental regulations his administration has promoted. More than just rolling back over 80 rules, some that even had been agreed upon by fossil-fuel industries,
what Trump has pursued is a toxic mix of greed and ignorance that’s already threatening to choke us all to death.
From withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris climate accord, – effective days after the 2020 presidential election -; to freezing fuel-efficiency and antipollution standards for cars; to dismantling the Clean Power Plan; to promoting drilling in pristine public lands and offshore coastal waters; to removing restrictions to methane, which the crisis worsened, the list is long and nauseating.
And that’s just in the realm of sheer misguided policies. No one should forget that this man has his little fingers on the biggest arsenal of weapons of mass destruction ever known to mankind, and the volatile temper of a toddler, as it’s been often said. After all, only last week we had a big reminder of the potential consequences of the unchallenged power of an unfit president.
To the administration, the bombing of a major Saudi Arabia’s refinery complex, claimed by Houthi rebels, was an opportunity to frame an old enemy: Iran. It ignored claims made by the last group resisting the U.S.-supported Saudi campaign to subjugate Yemen, and sided-up with their oppressors: this week, a ‘small’ contingent of American troops is heading to guard the oil fields.
It’s yet another lethal diversion that’ll have to be discussed by summit participants, as if they, and the world, had any time to spare. It’s also a direct result of Trump breaking up from the universally-supported nuclear deal with Iran. And it follows his recurrent, and all but suicidal, foreign policy: to shun traditional allies and embrace dictatorships. To dire results? You betcha.
Compared to what amounts to crimes against humanity, or at least, impeachable offenses to the U.S. Constitution, the new whistleblower allegations, that the U.S. president has asked a foreign power – no, not Russia, Ukraine – to dig dirt into Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son, pale in comparison. Sad fact is, neither that nor this will likely lead to any consequence.
So it happens that in these strange times, a man born into privilege, who’s accused of sex crimes by dozen of women, cheated on his wife, associates and employees, paid prostitutes for sex and their silence, and may have hidden billions from the government through the years, gets elected to the world’s most important job. And another, who told us the truth, is considered a criminal.
When Edward Snowden copied and had it published classified documents, showing the National Security Agency spying on citizens all over the world, in flagrant disrespect to individual rights and often not even relevant to well, national security, he acted on a moral impulse. What he found out as a C.I.A. sub-contractor was simply too important not to tell the world about it.
He knew he was probably going to pay for the indiscretion with his freedom and he was willing to pay such a high price. Now, six years of forced exile in Russia later, he asks: will I have a fair trial if I ever return to my country? And the answer is a resounding no, not at this time. And that’s unfortunate considering that his country is the U.S. of A., once a beacon for justice.
We all saw what happened to Army Intelligence Officer Chelsea Manning, to whom not even a presidential pardon spared from serving time; she’s in her third imprisonment term now. So no, Ed, don’t come back just yet if you can help it. Hang in there for now, because justice and individual freedom are already scheduled to return to this country the day after next year’s election.
This week, let’s keep an eye on Hong Kong, which faces the threat of military intervention from China. The city’s Lennon Walls, makeshift banners of dissent inspired by the late Beatle, have been destroyed by Chinese agents, and the likely Ketchup-stained request for U.S. support is gathering dust in Trump’s wastebasket. Is it because, unlike the Saudis, there’s nothing in it for him?
And let’s continue to celebrate New York hometown fictional hero, Batman, on his 80th anniversary. Even though we’re now wary of any lone vigilante taking the law on his own hands, the myth of a regular man who dedicates his life to chase bad guys, solely motivated by a personal loss, still resonates with many. Thus his famous Bat Sign, projected onto the night sky, lives on.
Regardless if you are in Brazil, where the Amazon Rainforest is still burning at record rates, or New York, where the U.N. seeks solutions to put out that and other fires, this is the Autumnal Equinox. And the message is, everyone on Earth sees the same sky.
‘It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.’ The John Steinbeck quote is from his last book, The Winter of Our Discontent, a title he lifted from William Shakespeare’s Richard III, and that’s humbly paraphrased on the headline of this post. There’s still time to guarantee a future for all, and this week must prove it. Join in the action call. WC