I do not like the heat. Mid-November should be skull-cap cold, gloves-cold so that sitting in a tree stand calls for a degree of resistance to wind and an appreciation of warmth when darkness falls and home beckons. The blue-sky days are lovely though, and they are part of the dissonance I feel: how does one now live a double life — the private one and the public one? In private we live amidst the complexities and joys of family and friends and work. These require patience, reward hard work, and deliver their mixture of hardships and pleasures. But in public each day brings news of how awful these next four years will prove. For example, Trump has appointed Steve Bannon to be a White House Counsel and Senator Jeff Sessions, his nominee for Attorney-General. Both are reprehensible human beings. Both will now wield enormous power. They have the potential to do damage to our democracy that will last a very long time.
How is one supposed to live now when each day brings news of devastations to come? How is one to resist a Party in complete control of the government? How is one to stay rational and moderate of judgment when the injustice to come threatens to combust the air into a persistent flame. How does one hold to the normalcy of unbitter laughter, love, and languid conversations in Trump’s America? How to resist and not become an unsmiling grotesque, pouring forth a 4 or 8 year lament?
We will have to create bifurcated lives — take happiness in children’s laughter and retain a strengthened resolve and calculated anger at each new outrage. I can spend 20 minutes watching a fox hunt mice in the sun-field behind our house, and then try to figure how much I can afford to contribute to the National Wildlife Federation and the Southern Poverty Law Center for the battles to come. I can have a pleasant breakfast with my wife, and then boil my blood when I open the New York Times and discover the next Trump cruelty made manifest. How is one to live like this?
The teacher in me begins with a list, one subject to reversals, hard turns, long jumps, evolution, but a beginning:
Call your Senators and members of Congress. Make it a daily or weekly routine: “Will Senator Toomey vote to confirm AG nominee Sessions?” “Does Rep. Meehan or Costello approve of Bannon’s WH appointment?”
Give up some of your money to protect wolves, refugees, press freedom, children, NPR, wild things, the law, justice, the freedom to not live in an oligarchy.
Stay aware and read read read read the NYT, the Post, the LA Times, listen to the BBC. Embrace the factual world.
Reject propaganda left and right. Work hard to see clearly.
Do not become that which you despise. Resist hatred and bitterness.
Do not become isolated. Do not retreat into a virtual world.
Listen to those who disagree with you. No one has a lock on the truth.
Do not reject friends or family who voted for Trump. We will all need each other for what is coming.
Be skeptical of power, not cynical.
Find some way to retain hope through Church, little victories, family, books, birds, prayer, coffee with your brothers and sisters.
Become more self reliant, become more communal: learn to build, cook, hunt, bake, fish, repair, make do, share, barter, shelter, protect the weak.
In the end, more will be expected of us I think, maybe incalculably more, but for now, this is my beginning, this and a promise to write about what I see unfold, and as ineffectual and puny such an effort will be, to not be silent.
On Saturday evening I climbed down the ladder of the stand and walked from the woods to a big field just as the northern front struck. Thousands of leaves volleyed from the tops of trees in great, skittering booms of wind. Grey heaving clouds, infused with the last of daylight, flashed and hurried and drew up all the day’s heat. It was marvelous. Beauty goes on. The world outside of screens and politics and worry remains. Let no one take it away from you.