“For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”~Luke 23:31
At the end of the last century I traveled to England in June for a wedding. For weeks before the affair I begged my siblings who live there to tell me what kind of outfit to buy. Should I buy a summer dress? Would I need a jacket? They basically told me to ask them on the day of the wedding and they would have a better idea.
The summers in England are interesting. For a start, they are unpredictable and varied. You cannot say, oh yes, June is always hot and dry; or: rains come in August. Those who grow up in the tropics have a simpler time; they talk about the ‘May rains’, or the summer convection thunderstorms that predictably roll in in the afternoons.
Of course this makes life in the UK quite challenging. Even if the day starts out sunny and warm, you go out equipped with umbrella, light jacket and possibly a raincoat. And if you want to start up a conversation with any stranger in England, mention the weather. Bright sunshine brings workers out of their offices and into the parks on their lunch breaks to strip down and sunbathe. The nights are weird too. The sun sets so late and rises so early; dusk barely darkens before the dawn creeps in.
Of course my memories of UK weather date back 40 years. My recent visits have been around the Winter Solstice, my job giving me longer vacation at Christmas time than at other times of year. I have no idea whether global warming has changed these patterns. Where other more stable climates have become wildly unpredictable, perhaps the UK has now developed a pattern! One thing we do know, all around the globe the weather appears to be more intense, more bizarre.
I recently heard on the news about a forest fire that had spread rapidly and violently out of control. It was started, they said, by ‘dry lightning’. The phrase sounded interesting. I had never thought of lightning as being either wet or dry, but of course once you imagine lightning that is unaccompanied by rain, you can imagine how dangerous that would be if it landed in a forest. Which reminded me of an old Jamaican saying; “Ole fire tick easy fi ketch” (an old fire stick is easily ignited). Which has nothing to do with fire, and everything to do with relationships: ‘Old love affairs are easily rekindled’.
There is something about the right conditions, the right time, the right events. There is a lovely word: serendipity; which means such a situation. Things coming together in just the right way, with a positive outcome. When we do have this wonderful confluence of events, we just know ‘it was meant to be’. But there are times when this perfect intersection of people, place and events has disastrous results. Then we talk about a ‘perfect storm’, all things working together but with a tragic ending.
I heard an interview on the radio the other day, with the author of a study who described how the US is developing into a class society, with wealth dividing us between those who earn above $200,000 a year, and the 80% who do not. He explained how those in the lower end of the top 20% compare themselves with the rest of their group and feel as if they are not making it. Therefore they do not see themselves as wealthy, and fight very hard to maintain their status. This means that they cannot see the great disparities around them. They do not see that they are privileged; that their position may be due to hard work, but often a whole lot more. They probably benefited from growing up in ‘better’ communities with access to a good education and therefore better jobs. Once they have reached that pinnacle, they do not look back, and they will support those in power who promise to protect their interests. There is an English saying: “I’m alright Jack; I’m in the dinghy.” When the ship is sinking and you’ve made it to the lifeboat, it is hard to be concerned about those still on the deck.
The most interesting part of the interview was the audience response. Just as he predicted, there were infuriated calls from those in the 20% bracket, who were irate at the suggestion that they were selfish or uncaring. But they definitely could not see that a country in which the majority would never be able to achieve such financial stability was unfair. The cards are stacked against those who grow up in inner cities, in poverty, with generations lost to violence and crime.
It is tough to be living through a time in US history when it appears things are being rolled back, where conditions seem to be reverting to intolerance and prejudice. Whether it is regulations that protect workers; acts that save our national parks; decisions that will affect generations to come; all manner of positive steps are being reversed in the interest of the top 20%. With complete disregard for the wellbeing of the majority of the population, those who are most at risk.
Well, the disabled will lead the way. Yesterday hundreds of people in wheelchairs marched on Washington, and entered the offices on Capitol Hill to protest the latest cruel joke of a ‘health’ bill. Did you know that the Americans with Disabilities Act is less than 30 years old? Ramps; handicap access to public transportation, and accommodations for those with impairment have only been mandated over the past few decades. And it took people in wheelchairs to fight their own battles. We who are able-bodied should be ashamed of ourselves.
This Friday morning I hope you are healthy, willing and able to fight the battles which lie ahead of us. For if these things should happen when the wood is green, we can only imagine the conflagration once the new world order is fully entrenched. Let us think about our grandchildren’s grandchildren, and take steps to protect this abused planet and our fellow man.
Have a wonderful, thoughtful weekend, Family. And if you are in that 20%, think about what got you there, and how you can help to level the playing field.