Some of my friends and kindred souls are saying that the health of our democratic republic, America, has hit a new low. I think that the real low was the Civil War, which, evidently, never ended completely, and hopefully, will not be repeated. With all the diversity of our Nation, there are inevitably people who do want to go there and revive that tragic incident. We know who they are.
As to why, the question is one of identity. We can choose to identify with our self and God, or abdicate the elevated self to our ego, other egos, groups of people founded on ego and all the baggage of ego: misery, suffering, fear, hatred and a clinging to ignorance.
I brought this up earlier presenting a reading from the I Ching for July 4. Today, I am reminded that people whom we consider to be heroes are just people who remained themselves, no matter what the circumstances: forces, pressures, enticements, threats and dangers.
Today in the Los Angeles Times an article appeared which tells the story of a hero who is just a regular guy who knows who he is and what his duty is to himself, his friends, his nation and humanity. It may be interpreted, as it is in the article, that certain ethnic or other groups are constantly having to prove that they are Americans. I don’t see this guy as having any ideal outside of himself that inspired his bravery. I see him as just a simple fellow from a nondescript place at a certain time under certain circumstances who found within himself the wherewithal to keep going. In his moment of trial, he had faith.
My wife and I visited Boston last week. We discovered that visiting the place resulted in revisiting events in our personal and collective psyches.
Visiting with our old friends Henrietta and Don rekindled our passionate love for exploring the landscape of current social drama and politics, Martin Scorsese’s movie Silence, John Oliver’s commentaries, etc. Unlike the midwesterner’s comment in Alexandra Pelosi’s Journeys with George, who said, paraphrasing, “we all get along just fine because we all hate the same things“, we get along because we love the same things, e.g., our country and way of life.
Visiting the JFK library and museum transported us to another time that remains indelibly etched in our psyches. To know it, we only need be reminded of it. I remember it as the realization that anything is possible. Camelot.
I also remember the dark passages of that time. The Cuban missile crisis. I remarked to a woman next to me as we saw a recap of that October of 1962. I commented, “I thought we were all going to die”. She replied “We all thought we were going to die”.
It evoked the murder of the President. The darkest day in living memory.
It evokes the contrast between a time when a politician loved his constituents and the present where many politicians cynically express abject hatred and contmept for them.
Kennedy remains the smiling young champion of justice and human rights. That can never be tarnished. Those who disparage him and his legacy only tarnish themselves.
Little was accomplished directly during his presidency. It was too short. He did get the ball rolling. Many years ago we visited the LBJ library in Austin, Texas. What we saw there was astonishing. The body of Johnson’s legislative accomplishments is enormous. Human rights, social justice, voting rights and environmental protections owe their existence to this one man. It seemed that he was all about fulfilling Kennedy’s dreams. Successfully.
Edward M Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate
We visited the institute, which shares the same grounds as the Kennedy library. We were introduced to the history and the functioning of the Senate. We participated in a mock debate in a replica of the senate chamber. Very interesting.
Boston seems to be unique in its long history as an American city. It appears to be the real cradle of the American experience. The Freedom Trail is a well marked path that winds throughout the city which visits many of the historic landmarks that led to what is now the United States. Walking that path is a moving experience. I was again transported to a time when events reflected the greatness of people who rose up against tyranny and formed a common purpose to eradicate injustice for all time. Their call to unite is still irresistible. I can see how this moves Bostonians to identify as patriots of a righteous cause with pride and defiance. Even the Red Sox seems to be something more than just a baseball team. It’s an identity of unity.
This creates a sharp contrast with the current state of affairs in our nation where members of one group of people with enormous power are lukewarm at best to the unity of the nation and who would willingly let go of the American legacy for short term political gain and personal wealth.
My wife and I attended an event last night at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles, featuring a screening of the new film and an appearance by Al Gore, who gave in an interview and update of what’s been happening since the release of An Inconvenient Truth in 2006. What I describe below are features and conclusions expressed in the film and by Al Gore during his interview.
The essential truth is that climate change and the warming of the Planet Earth is not a political issue. It is not hypothetical. It is not a projection for the future. It is here. It is reality. It has been made a political issue in America by the fossil fuel industry and well-healed and powerful people who are being made richer by denying that reality. It’s that simple.
The political ploys that they have used are nearly identical to those that were employed by the tobacco industry in the suppression and obfuscation of smoking related health data in the 1980’s. The results have also been similar. They have spent over two billion dollars on their campaign to sway public opinion on the issue. Their efforts have have been somewhat successful. A significant segment of the population has been successfully misled, which has produced a widespread apathy to to the urgency of the situation and to the issue itself.
Science is a major proponent of truth in our civilization. It is not inherently wise, but it can tell us when something is broken, and often, how to fix it. Climate science has already shown us how to fix the climate problem physically. It has fallen short of helping enough people in power to develop the will to do something about it.
In order to fix that, it has taken a serious advocate, in the person of Al Gore, to champion the endeavor to educate and otherwise shift the awareness of people toward the truth.
The most prominent example of this is Gore’s negotiations with the Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi during around the time of the global climate conference in 2015. Modi was reluctant to lend his support for a climate accord because he felt that the Indian economy was not strong enough to shift resources toward the development of new alternative energy technologies and industries. The need for the developing nation’s increase in energy production was immediate, with no room for mistakes. Modi and Parliament were on the verge of authorizing the building of 400 new coal based generation plants. Gore realized that that would be a climate catastrophe. He also realized that it was not their fault for their thinking that way. India was in a really tough spot.
So, Gore contacted Solar City’s CEO Lyndon Rive about negotiating an agreement with India for the transfer of solar photovoltaic technology to India that would benefit both India and Solar City. After intense negotiations, the deal was done, and Modi agreed to join the Paris climate accord. Now that’s deal making.
Gore admitted, both to the audience and in the film, that he was often on the verge of despair regarding the trend of American politics on the matter. Still, he persevered. The history of setbacks is long.
One of the first was the cancellation of the NASA DSCOVR project. It was one of the first casualties of George W Bush’s new administration. The project was intended to launch a satellite into a solar orbit that is synchronized with the orbit of the earth in order to observe the earth from a constant “full earth” perspective. It could make make measurements of the earth 24/7 which could then be analyzed to yield useful climate data. For example, it would be a constant monitor over time of the ratio of incident and reflected energy on the earth. That would yield an accurate measurement of how much energy is being absorbed by greenhouse gasses and the rise of global temperatures.
Many setbacks have occurred in America with the election of climate denying politicians to government office, and most recently, the appointment of many of them to federal executive cabinet and other high ranking positions.
On the other hand, there seems to be a global trend for the adoption of renewable energy sources. Even in the US, in Texas, no less, one town proudly touts its 100% reliance on these resources. Some states have nearly reached 100% fossil fuel independence. Across the world, the adoption and use of renewable energy is accelerating dramatically. In Chile, in the last year or so, the production of renewable energy has grown by several thousand percent. China has committed to the movement.
When asked whether a tipping point has been reached in the industrial and political adoption of renewable energy, Gore did not state unequivocally that it has, but he indicated that he thinks it’s inevitable. He remains hopeful.
There were many examples shown in the movie of devastating events that have occurred worldwide since the last movie that are directly and unequivocally attributable to temperature and climate. Amid all the massive devastation, one event really stood out as a surprising and disturbing data point.
In 2015 a massive deluge was recorded in Tucson. It seemed to be an aerial view of clouds dumping water (billions of gallons?) on Tucson as if a giant barrel in the sky tipped over. You could actually make out the splash of the water on the ground. Not drops. Barrels.
I don’t recall any mention of tipping points with regard to climate change itself. That is, the point at which the planet will not recover sufficiently to stop the warming progression. This was a prominent topic earlier on in the discussion.
See movie trailer
See interview at Greek Theater (video shaky, audio good)