It's tempting, in times of pain, chaos, and transformation, to think there are no opportunities for you to participate, or feel like life is so insane that nothing matters, and besides, the world is ending anyway. Plenty of people are caught in the meme that nothing makes a difference, especially them.
I know it can seem that way. We've been moving at the compressed speed of events around eclipses, and our minds are warped into the light-speed movement of electric communication that delivers the latest crisis to our purse or pocket in mere seconds. Everything is accelerated, magnified, and thrown into a mash-up with everything else streaming across your news feed and beleaguered brain.
It's easy to imagine there's no place for you in the world at this time, or that there's no use trying. You might be so disgusted, shocked or scared, that you cannot figure out what to do. I'm here with another idea. But first, let's review the recent past.
If you follow the news, it's been the War of the Week since mid-August.
It started with the threat to have a nuclear war with North Korea. Remember that? Trump's threat of hellfire and brimstone, and power like the world has never witnessed before? This featured Kim Jong-un and The Donald, throwing adolescent tantrums as people in Seoul and Tokyo wondered if they were in the line of fire.
That was just three weeks ago; I know that's a long time, and it's hard to remember so far back in ancient history. Threatening nuclear war was a ruse to scramble coverage of a story that broke earlier in the week, the one about how the home of Paul Manafort, the presidential campaign manager for the guy who is now president, was raided by the FBI.
The raid was part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the Russian connection and a labyrinth of financial crimes. I consider Manafort to be the pin in the pinwheel of this whole Russia business. He's had endless dealings with the Russians and was the made-to-order manager for the Soviet Revival Presidential Campaign of 2016.
Mueller has impaneled a grand jury. He now has subpoena power. We may not know what's in Trump's tax returns, but now Mueller has the power to get them right from the IRS, and may have already done so.
This got under the skin of the commander-in-chief sufficiently for him to go nuclear, which distracted everyone from the whole Russia bit for about 48 hours. When that got boring, it was time to threaten the invasion, or perhaps just bombing, of Venezuela. Everyone was saying the same thing. Venezuela? Uh, why? It was like that scene in Wag the Dog. A war with Albania? Seriously? In the old days, that would have been more than enough.
That's when things got really interesting: it was time for a race riot. For our weekend diversion, we got a kind of Civil War reenactment—or what the New York Daily News editorial writers called (who were being witty, but not kidding) "the Civil War's Battle of Fifth Ave."
In Charlottesville, VA, the city had decided to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee, the Confederate general who commanded the army of northern Virginia. White supremacists took to the road like Phish fans and gathered with their body armor, Glocks and assault rifles. Others, wearing chinos and polo shirts, staged a midnight tiki-torch march on the University of Virginia campus.
In the midst of this, violence erupted various places, and then a white supremacist drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing Heather Heyer. Two police officers were also killed when their helicopter went down.
Trump then held a couple of press conferences, blaming "both sides" of the issue, praising the fine people protesting for white rights, and comparing Robert E. Lee to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. White nationalist leaders praised Trump for refusing to condemn the whole thing, which he then did briefly; then, to the feigned shock of his communications team, walked it back at a patently insane press conference held at Trump Tower where he revealed himself as a kind of wannabe Nazi who thinks there's no difference between Thomas Jefferson and Robert E. Lee.
The phrase "alt left" was born, but the most recent buzzword is antifa, meaning antifascist. As this went on, communities in the South were quietly removing their confederate statues. Nearly all of these were put in place in the 1950s and 1960s in response to the Civil Rights movement. Personally, I am eager to see slave memorials built in their place.