…but what does that mean for us? It has been a long, dark, and frightening night in America. It was violent, stormy, and even monsters came out of the closet, grimacing with sharp fangs to frighten us into doing their bidding. We resisted, we fought back, and now the sun is up, those who gnash their teeth at us scurrying back towards the shadows. We have done well, banding together, despite our differences, joining together to collectively shout “NO! This is not what we want!”
There are two kinds of American people, it seems: Those who would see all of our sacred institutions upended in order to gain an authoritarian despot, and those who would resist this populist movement. The latter group is our intended audience, along with our like-minded allies throughout the world.
The storm was wild and frightening at times, intense in its ferocity, and engaging in survival mode, we battened the metaphorical hatches, hunkered down, and kept our finger on the pulse of the outside world via the nonstop 24 hour news cycle. As the real possibility of civil war loomed on the horizon, our thoughts turned from finding flowers to storing soup, writing about gardening, foraging, and cooking seemed in itself a waste of time, after Nazis don’t read books, they burn books, and America seemed to be going quickly the way Germany did in the 1930’s, to the Nazis.
Anyone who has taken an art history class at some point may have heard of the Dada movement during the early years of the twentieth century. In summary, dada was elevating everyday objects, as they were, most famously a sideways urinal, to art. What was the point, they asked, in making beautiful art when the nature of man is to kill and destroy everything. Caught in the throes of a worldwide influenza epidemic, every day reading horror stories from the front lines and seeing ghastly images of gas mask wearing soldiers waist deep in corpse filled trenches, they reasoned humanity had reached its apex, and surely apocalypse was upon them, so to create works of art was an absurd waste of time.
Dadaism made a good argument, it is easy to get caught up in nihilism, cynicism, and misanthropy when all good things seem lost, and to be absurd is the only real defense against the cruel joke that is life. It is difficult to see your muse while watching your back, or to put it plainer: Survival takes precedence over creating art, or music, or even written word. Survival tends to focus one’s energies inward, collecting and conserving resources, equipping oneself to make it through the worst parts of the storm.
In Florida, we get some whoppers when it comes to storms. Jutting out from the mainland into the sea like bait on a hook, we often find ourselves at the mercy of both the hot tempered Gulf of Mexico and the whims of the tempestuous Atlantic Ocean, both ready and willing to batter us with wind and rain with scarcely a moment’s notice. Our near daily wet season’s afternoon showers would cause flooding, road closures, and be nightly news anywhere else, but we know how to weather a storm.
It’s the aftermath in which we will truly shine, our perseverance and determination to go on to clean up the mess and rebuild better anything which was destroyed. That is where we are now. The worst of the storm has grazed most of us. Now is the time to get out, into the community, and help pick up the mess, and rebuild what has been destroyed, better this time, with fewer built in flaws that would undermine its structures once again. We need to help our neighbors with mending their fences, and picking up debris that the winds threw about as it raged, and rebuild the communities stronger, with the ability to face an even stronger force the next time.
It is a new day in America, and a new year. New years bring resolutions, changes one expects to implement to improve themselves, like starting diets and exercise programs. But perhaps this year, resolve to make a difference, not only in your own life, but really make a conscious effort to recognize what impact you can have on improving the lives of others around you. You may not have everything you ever dreamed of, your life may be far from perfect, and you may be at your wits end trying to juggle work, bills, and maintain any semblance of a social life, but even you can make a difference. You can make the world a better place.
We face many challenges collectively- Diseases, poverty, hunger, the disparity of wealth, any number of social injustices, an area the size of a football field being taken from nature and developed for use by humans each day, species are becoming endangered and going extinct faster than we can even catalogue them all, and global warming threatens to kill us all unless we do something about it. The good news is we can face these daunting obstacles and overcome them collectively. Imagine if every person planted a few native plants at their homes, or set up a bird feeder, or grew a small patch of herbs or vegetables to eat or share.
These small acts may not seem to make much of a difference, but small acts when performed millions of times become large acts, waves, movements which will not be stopped easily. Planting a patch of flowers seems hardly a revolutionary act, but to a pollinator, flying from food desert to food desert, seeking just a sip of nectar, the lack of a patch of flowers could mean life or death. A clean basin of water located away from hiding spots for cats or other predators provides a resource to birds, which will entice them to drink and bathe. As humans consume more and more real estate habitats and animal homes are destroyed, more of them are displaced and need safe places to relocate to.
If you have the space to plant some trees, you should consider doing this as well. Trees are nature’s air purifiers, they provide shelter and shade for small animals who call them home as well as enhance and beautify your surroundings. Go a step further, plant a nut or fruiting type, and now you have provided food as well as shelter. Many birds are omnivorous, and will happily pluck from your garden any insects eyeing your vegetable patch like an outdoor salad bar. Allowing birds to perform their natural role in the ecosystem, being the voracious insect predators that they are, will negate the need for using toxic insecticides in most cases. Some pesticides contain known carcinogens. You know what you can’t get cancer from? That’s right, birds.
If you were to pursue growing fruits, vegetables, or herbs as one of your resolutions, consider this: Any food you grow at home will be fresher, and have travelled a much shorter distance than produce found at the grocery store. When you look around at the abundance on display at the market you don’t see the hundreds of gallons of diesel being burned by ships and trucks that are used to transport it there. You don’t see the gallons of pesticides being sprayed on them, which kills thousands of pollinators, some critically threatened on the verge of being lost forever.
You don’t see all the weed killer used to subdue any weedy upstarts and maintain chemical control of monocultured fields or the phosphate rich fertilizer they are fed to keep yields the same in spite of once arable soil robbed of its life giving properties through years of bad farming practices. You don’t see the farmers, exploited by global corporate giants to work for pennies a day who live in hovels with dirt floors who are applying the cancer causing agents while drinking and bathing in the waters they have polluted with the chemical cocktails, or the algae choked waterways killing fish, depriving local fishermen and tour guides of their economies.
You don’t see all of this on purpose. The goal of the food conglomerates is to turn the most profit that they can for shareholders. Food to them, is an industry, one which can be made more efficient and ever more profitable by exploiting the workers, degrading the environment , and packaging everything from advertisements to the actual cellophane surrounding your potential purchase in blissful, pastoral scenes of happy cows, frolicking in fields and flannel clad farmers pulling perfectly washed and trimmed produce out of the ground. It is all a damn lie. It is propaganda, do you think if people put as much thought as this to answer the age old “What’s for dinner?” as we must, they would continue to fork over their hard earned cash to men who couldn’t care less if they live or die?
We can use our power as consumers to dictate what the market offers. If we grow tomatoes here, we won’t need to import them from halfway around the world. We don’t need to fuel up those ships, we don’t need to exploit those workers along the way. The more selectively we open our wallets, the more power we can wield over what stays inside of them. It’s a new day in America, and we can seize the day, and make it our own. There are many problems that did not vanish with the passing around the sun once again or anew administration being sworn in. A pandemic rages and people have lost incomes. Small businesses have went under, the need at food pantries is overwhelming at the moment, any bumper crop that you end up with is greatly needed by those organizations that encumber themselves with the monumental task of helping others through their time of need. An offer of fresh, homegrown produce would help out a needy family, or turn a neighbor into a friend much better than donating the canned you-can’t-really-make-out=the-label-anymore-because-it-it-had-been-in-your-cupboard-for-four-years-or-more.
Instead of paying a gym membership, donate your time and energy into a mutual aid network like Skunk Ape Liberation Union https://www.facebook.com/skunkapeliberationunion/ or Bayou Area Street Health (BASH) https://www.facebook.com/BayouActionStreetHealth/ . These grassroots community organizations help people with needs meet people who can help meet those needs. Or join a community supported agriculture (CSA) program if there is one near your area. It may be a new day, but there is much to do. While the darkness lurks near the edges, always ready to invite chaos and discord into our lives, right now there is a light, and we should do our part to increase its brilliance and luminosity through service to others.
Many are happy that we can return to the status quo, back to the way things used to be before America “went crazy”, but we must resist the urge to be self-congratulatory and never rest upon the laurels of what we have accomplished, only seeking to make our lives ever better. To the reader who has been with us from day one, or those only discovering us, thank you, for caring. Help spread the word. Follow us on social media, and tell your friends as well. Drop an email or donate to help us keep blogging. It is a good morning, and together we can make it a great day, a dawning of a bright future.