Keeping one’s head up in ‘interesting times’

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Planting potatoes with granddaughter Mirabella (beautiful miracle), May 2, 2016. Photo by daughter, Lila Marie. And a good one it is.

When one reaches the pre-boomer age I’m at now, it makes no sense at all to look forward to spring. That’s despite yet another Canadian winter freezing itself in for a long stay and a “snow squall warning” in effect for the next couple of days. So, what else is new.

The only thing that makes sense for an old guy like me is embracing every new day when it has finally become obvious that every one of them is a Hallelujah! gift.

Yet, here I am, imagining it’s late May in the spring of 2020 and I’m out in the back garden again doing a first weeding in rows of recently emerged potato plants a month after planting, just like I was in the spring of 2016.

There was hope in the ground, and in the air, then. But a cloud had also appeared

Now, before I get into that – the cloud, I mean – let me just say I get the distinct impression now almost four years later that a great many people are tired of hearing a certain name. They’ve had enough; their fed up; they don’t want to hear, watch, read, or think about him/it anymore. Absolutely not. It has become all-too-depressing, a waste of time, nothing you, or I, some might suggest, can do about it. So, ‘don’t worry, be happy,’ as the song says.

I fundamentally disagree with that attitude. Burying one’s head in the proverbial sand is not an option. These days, with the future of the world hanging in the balance, there is only one story that in no uncertain terms stands out among all the rest. And its name is Trump.

The still recent history of the 20th Century tells us in no uncertain terms that failing to speak out in the presence of a ‘clear and present danger’ to all we hold dear, including our own children and their children, is a mistake that can, and in this case will, have tragic consequences to an extent beyond imagining.

We are in such a moment now, again: a critical moment that in 2020 will play itself out, to the bitter end and beyond, or to a huge sigh of relief. Hopefully, it will be the latter and will go down in history as the crucial turning point that saved the world’s once-greatest democracy, and democracy in general. It may be the results of the next U.S. election, assuming there is one; and also assuming it will be followed by a peaceful transfer of power. It’s important above all to remain hopeful, the more of us the better. But it’s also important to be realistic: we are indeed living in ‘interesting times.’

I have written about ‘him’ in Finding Hope Ness, and expressed a kind of faith that one voice, added to a virtual chorus of millions of voices, can indeed make a difference. I have always tried to write in a spirit of hope, the spiritual energy of which springs from being alive in this little, blue-green jewel of a planet, this sacred gift we were given for safe-keeping. But I confess it’s been a struggle of late.

Four years ago, this coming spring, I was hoeing and hilling my hopeful, just-emerged rows of Yukon Gold under a late-morning sun. But I was also thinking about a headline news item that morning wherein it was reported that Donald Trump, the then unlikely candidate for President of the United States of America, had questioned the relevance of NATO, he had suggested it was “obsolete” and complained that, in any event, other NATO members were not paying their fair share for the organization’s upkeep.

I was perplexed that candidate Donald Trump, or any candidate seeking to be elected President of the U.S. would make such comments about NATO in the aftermath of Russia’s forced takeover of the Crimea, a part of Ukraine; and with Russian troops masquerading as “volunteers’ actively involved in supporting a pro-Russian rebellion in eastern Ukraine. (That was before it became widely known that Russia was allegedly interfering in the U.S. elections of that year.)

NATO at that point, with U.S. support, had already started putting into effect a strategy to counter the plans of the Russian Federation under its President, Vladimir Putin, to recover former Soviet Union territory in eastern Europe. Ukraine appeared to be the first intended victim. Canada, a NATO member, had already sent troops to Latvia to help that former Soviet-controlled republic bolster its military.

That morning in the spring of 2016 I stopped my work for a while, leaned on my hoe, and looked up at the sky as I thought about Trump’s NATO comments. And then it hit me, “he’s got a deal with the Russians,” I said aloud.

I had no proof, no ‘smoking gun,’ as it were. But it was the only thing that made sense, adding up the circumstances mentioned above.

I consoled myself at that time by thinking if I could see that then the suspicions of others, in the U.S. especially, would also be aroused; and sooner or later the truth would emerge and ’the smoking gun’ revealed.

I also thought that if he had a ‘deal with the Russians,’ it would involve some post-election, re-arrangement of the geo-political balance of power structure whereby new ‘spheres of influence’ or outright control would be divvied up. If Russia, say, got free rein to take over Ukraine, and other former Soviet territory, then what would the U.S. get?

The answer soon came to me: Canada. I kid you not.

I thought about how easy that would be, at least from a military point of view; basically, a walk in, take-over situation, as a result of some Trumped-up excuse having to do with Canada’s liberal, immigration policies.

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An RCMP officer welcomes an asylum-seeking child and family to Canada. His smile says it all. One of my favorite photos.

And now?

The ‘smoking gun’ linking now-President Trump to a deal with Russia/Putin has not been found. The so-called Mueller investigation found plenty of evidence backing charges actually laid by the probe regarding Russia’s interference in the 2016 election to help elect Trump. It also found evidence Trump obstructed justice in connection with the investigation. But Mueller stopped short of laying criminal charges because of Department of Justice policy opposes such action against a sitting president. Trump, with the help of Attorney-General William Barr, managed to spin the outcome of the Mueller investigation which he still calls a “hoax” into “complete” vindication for him. A well-informed electorate and elected members of the Republican Party should surely know better; but his ‘base’ of somewhere around 40 percent of American voters, and almost all elected members of the party, still support and enable him.

Most recently, the Inspector General’s office of the U.S. Department of Justice released its report into the origins of the FBI/Mueller investigations into Russia’s involvement after a 19-month inquiry.  Trump and his supporters have long said the FBI/Mueller investigations were a so-called ‘deep state’ conspiracy to undermine his presidency. The IG report found, as stated in its Executive Summary, ”that FBI officials involved in opening the investigation had reason to believe that Russia may have been connected to the Wikileaks disclosures that occurred earlier in July 2016, and were aware of information regarding Russia’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 U.S. elections.” But Trump’s immediate response was to say incorrectly that the report had actually proved his long-held assumptions. and his supporters, notably Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, and Attorney-General Barr, have questioned and criticized the IG’s report.

Meanwhile, Trump will be impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives on charges that he abused the power of the office of President and violated the U.S. Constitution by pressuring a foreign government, The Ukraine, to interfere in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. The Democratic Party holds the majority in the House where approval of the laying of impeachment charges requires a majority vote. But in order for Trump to be formally removed from office after a trial in the Senate, where the Republicans hold the majority, two-thirds of Senators must find him guilty. That is regarded as highly unlikely. So why even bother?

Because it’s always a good time to do the right thing when the future of the country and its democracy is at stake; and, for that matter, the future of the world.

I expect the political/civil situation in the U.S. to get worse before it gets better, if it gets better. It is well within the realm of possibility that, one way or another, Trump will not give up the presidency, either before, or after an election. He who wrongly thinks the U.S. Constitution allows him to do “whatever I want,” may, for example, with the help of the usual enablers, precipitate a crisis to give himself an excuse to declare a national emergency. It may not be based on anything factual or actual. It may lead to a new civil war, and a terrible period in American and world history of indeterminate length.

And what will happen to Canada?

Anything can happen, especially when you’re not watching, listening, reading, or otherwise not paying attention; and especially not speaking out.

 

4 thoughts on “Keeping one’s head up in ‘interesting times’

  1. So good to hear from ‘Hopeness” again and hoping that you are well and prepared for both the chills and cozy times of the season. I think there is a danger in focusing too much on the ‘Trump’ . With or without him, people like Jeff Bezos and other multi-billionaires will continue to dominate much of the consumer world and, lately, I feel that the consumer world is becoming everything everywhere and most of us are all too happy to have it that way. In this age of information and digital delirium, the art of critical thinking and responsible living is being shoved aside for the pleasures of the now… that is, the entertaining moment, big personality and instant gratification through desperate consumption of just about anything you can name from sex to fitbits. I know how captivated I am at times. For me, finding hope is found in getting close, very close to the natural world and, importantly, the natural world close by… I don’t have to fly to Costa Rica or hike the Himilayas to explore this world. I can find it right here in Grey/Bruce. And, now that I am ‘of an age’: I can contribute to a legacy for the generations to come financially or by personal action, however small or large, and to live consciously and responsibly and generously. Wishing you all the joys of the Season and hoping for an early Spring too.

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    • Good to hear from you too, Jennifer. yes, You’re right, there is a danger in focusing too much on him. But I had to get that off my chest, and maybe that’s my way of getting away from him for a while. But, that being said, and sad to say, he really is the story right now, the ‘clear and present danger.’ But this too shall pass.

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  2. As I’ve said before, I find your views completely and utterly credible, not least on the issue of Russia. I don’t make personal comments on Facebook too often, but this week I wrote “I preferred the Russians when they were only trying to spread communism.”.
    Are you familiar with the documentaries of Adam Curtis of the BBC? “Hypernormalization” is his most recent. I think you’d find them interesting.

    We had hoped to visit you in Hope Ness this Fall, but my husband Michael injured his knee on a film shoot in the summer and somehow it got worse and worse through the Fall until he was barely about to walk with a can. So no chance of a hike . Do you ever come into Owen Sound, when we could buy you a coffee or a drink?
    Best,
    Gail

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    • Thank you for your kind comment, Gail; always encouraging. Sorry to hear about Michael’s knee. That’s tough for an active person to take. Thanks for the heads-up re Adam Curtis. I’ll follow up on that. Actually, I’m coming in to Owen Sound this coming Wednesday for a couple of medical appointments, one in the late morning, the other early afternoon. I’m on a tight schedule because, not driving any more, I’m dependent on getting a ride in. But I never turn down a coffee. The bean cellar is always a good spot if you happen to be in town, say about 11:45 am.

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