I was walking home the other day through the most beautiful springtime you could imagine: just enough warmth to be enjoyable, a slight breeze, sunshine, fresh green leaves everywhere. You would expect that I would have rejoiced at it. And I tried to. But it didn’t work. Here’s why.
Many of the trees were almost barren. They had been stripped of most of their fresh green leaves by a hail storm the previous week. Another hailstorm was predicted for the night before my walk, to finish off the job, but it didn’t happen. Fresh green leaves everywhere? Well, if you count the dried-up green leaves in the gutters. Now, of course this was an act of nature. As I might have said before, Mother Nature can be one tough mama. But the problem is that even though humans have the capacity to come together, to cooperate, to love one another, and help one another against the dangers of the natural world, we often do not do so. We could, as a species, form an altruistic network that could dampen the disruptions of Nature, but we do not.
One house that I walked past illustrated the Oklahoma anti-environmental, anti-altruistic attitude in just about every possible way. Old cars were parked on the lawn. The house is about to fall over. Inside the fence there are very, very mean dogs. An indoor couch was outside, soggy with rain. The dogs ran around in puddles of accumulated water. A tree had been cut down, the chunks left lying around, and beer bottles were propped on the stump. And there were lots of beat-up, dirty toys, proclaiming redneck fecundity. These people neither care about their immediate neighbors or about the rest of the world. Their attitude is not too different from that of their dogs, with the difference that the poor dogs don’t know any better. Nearby, a pickup truck drove slowly down the street, spewing thick clouds of smoke and fumes.
Durant, Oklahoma, is a world center of three things: Trump supporters, Confederate supporters (mostly the same people here), and creationists. Our local state senator is an outspoken creationist, but he sneers openly and loudly at anyone who wants to protect the habitats of non-human animals and—and plants! He believes that God made all of these species so that he and his friends can destroy them. They hate God’s creation and would enjoy destroying as much of it as they can. And with the Trump juggernaut, they might just get a chance to do so. Everyone knows that Trump’s attitude toward biology is, if you can’t eat it or fuck it, what use is it?
So as I walked home, looking at the trees stripped of their leaves and breathing deeply of pickup truck exhaust, I mourned rather than rejoiced in the springtime.