There Are Still Things to Love About America

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There Are Still Things to Love About America

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It’s hot and hazy as July rolls around. Growing up in the Baltimore swamplands, we used to say, “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.” Meaning that the humidity was harder to deal with than the feverish temperatures. At some point in my family, the phrase morphed into: “It’s not the heat, it’s the stupidity.” At the time, we meant the antics of people when it gets hot, including public drunkenness, mishaps with fireworks, and fights over slights. (These days, sadly enough, you’d have to add to that list slaughtering people at a July 4th celebration with an AR-15-style rifle.)

Worse yet, in 2022, it’s emblematic of a far larger picture of life on earth: the stupidity of trying to stay cool while burning carbon; the stupidity of the Supreme Court tying the collective hands of the Environmental Protection Agency when it comes to regulating the emissions of coal-fired power plants; the stupidity of blaming mental illness rather than assault rifles for massacres; the stupidity of a pro-life movement that seems to care about nothing but fetuses. And, of course, the list only goes on and on… and on.

And now, I think I’m breaking into a sweat even though I’m sitting still. The novelist Barbara Kingsolver posted this on Facebook recently:

There are days when I can’t live in this country. Not the whole thing at once, including the hateful parts, the misogyny, the brutal disregard of the powerful for the powerless. Sometimes I can only be a citizen of these trees, this rainy day, the family I can hold safe, the garden I can grow. A fire that refuses to go out.

So, in these hazy, humid days laced with commercial patriotism and an upbeat jingoism shaken loose from the daily struggles of most people, I’m trying to take her words to heart. I am a citizen of the trees, particularly the two plum trees I planted this spring. I am a citizen of the rainy day. (May it come soon!) I am a citizen of my family of five, of eight, of 16, of 150 (the number of people anthropologist Robin Dunbar says we can meaningfully connect with). Yes, it really does seem like that’s what it takes to go on these days—committing yourself to what matters, to what you still do love in this ever more disturbed America of ours.

#Love #America

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