Yes, I’m a wee bit grumpy today. Superstorms can do that, even one that only struck me a glancing blow. Power on! Power off! Power on! Power off! Power on! Move bed so if big tree lands on bedroom it will merely break legs rather than crush skull! Wake up in middle of night and realize staying in tree-crash room fell short of brilliant. I could have slept in the basement! Then I would only have risked drowning. So get up in the middle of the night to see if in fact the basement is flooding. Oh-oh! a puddle in the storage room. Time to move everything wood or cardboard and start mopping! No water in the music room, but better get friend’s bass amp up on blocks just in case! Oh, and go outside in the dark howling rain to scoop mud out of the little trench that takes water away from the foundation! Fun.
But that’s not what made me grumpy. There is a certain sense of heroics in Saving the Place in the Storm. Now I know why I wake up in the middle of many nights with a burst of adrenaline. It’s so I can Save the Place! For one night anyway, it made sense. What DIDN’T make sense was the Television Set. As you know, I don’t watch the Television Set much, but the Power Just Came On for a bit, and maybe I should Check. And there, on the news, was the End of the World playing out, and interspersed with that were Those Same Damn Political Ads.
And here are the three things I thought. ONE: These storms are getting worse because we are stuck in a catastrophic, cynical game of right-wing denial and deliberate misinformation about climate. TWO: Our infrastructure to deal with storms (eg power grids) could be a LOT better, but we don’t believe in public infrastructure any more than we believe climate science. ESPECIALLY when it involves CITIES. (Yeecch!) THREE: And even in the midst of actual life-threatening mayhem, this same, familiar gray slurry of political advertising comes pouring into our houses, and neither mopping nor drainage trenches will keep it out. What bothers me most is that our level of response is so passive. LET the slop wash in over us! We don’t CARE that our political discourse is at a third grade level. Junk politics, junk priorities and junk science to go along with our junk food. Is this it? Is this the best we can manage? Maybe this IS the End of the World. Or maybe it’s time for a burst of adrenaline, so we can Save the Place in the Storm.