His friends call him Nacl, for reasons I do not yet understand.
He is especially knowledgeable about meteorology. He understands the jet stream and knows about cold fronts and warm fronts and occluded fronts. He knows why rain happens and where thunder comes from and how hot lightning can get.
He was never told that thunder was the sound of angels bowling or of the devil -- credited with being the first domestic abuser in the universe -- pushing his unsuspecting wife down the stairs of hell.
Someone started telling him the truth pretty early, the kind of truth he didn't have to believe in, you know, the kind he would actually live with.
Events from earlier this month tore the little guy up inside. He wept, and wept a lot, not out of physical pain or because he wasn't getting his way or because his goldfish died.
He wept because the thing that mattered most to him, the living planet, had suddenly lost one of its great allies, had suddenly become subject to the feckless and unshackled whims of an indifferent and irresponsible steward. And he cried because he had lost hope, even though he didn't know that's what he had lost. He just knew something awfully important had gone away during the night of Nov. 8, 2016.
|One previous owner, no accidents, GPS optional|
Yesterday, though, he received a Christmas card from a local celebrity of sorts, a guy I knew in a former life. Based on word of mouth, it said something like this:
My Beloved Nacl,
I know that you have lost hope. You think, as millions of other humans do, that Dr. Orangelove will turn his back on the planet you love so much, the only planet, in fact, that you have, the only place you can live.
Regain your hope. And don't think of hoping as being in any way related to "wishing" or "having faith." Hope, to put it simply, comes from imagining goodness, then making the goodness happen, a goodness that would not have happened had you not first imagined it.
Hope has nothing to do with cliches such as "pacing the floor" or "wringing your hands" or "crossing your fingers." Those actions are not hope, they are not inspired by hope, they are not manifestations of hope.
Salk didn't just hope polio would go away, and ditto Reed and yellow fever. They imagined how it could be done and made it so.
|Hey, Nacl, no emissions from this baby.|
But this is a Christmas card, so: This celebration --which is at least 65% vulgar, an embarrassing exploitation of human greed, a blasphemous strategy to draw in bloated profits for corporations, which in turn creates a "healthy" economy for those citizens fortunate enough to be standing beneath its grudging trickledown -- was initially about a pretty negligible piece of real estate occupied by Romans.
Into that mess, one baby was born, and trust me when I tell you he was one of the 99%. He was as poor as a church mouse. His parents were nobodies who drove a creaky, overworked ass they purchased "as is-No Warranty" at DonkeyMax with the help of a 72-month loan requiring exorbitant monthly payments of 27 denari. (The Romans owned all the donkey lots, new and used.)
Well, the little guy was almost tough as nails. He took on the world's rottenness, its pathetic lack of vision and compassion, its worship of do-goodism over charity, hospitality, selflessness, sacrifice, and generosity. He somehow knew that a just world was within reach of even the most wretched if they could figure out to love each other.
(Later, of course, his message was converted into Thou Shalt Nots, underpants inspections, nationalism and exploitation and/or neglect of the very outcasts he loved so much. Anyway, I digress.)
Dear Nacl, just think of that kid, who made it well into adulthood and would've made it longer if he could've kept his mouth shut about the truth, as an example of how one baby, one nobody, one flea-bitten, probably malnourished, poorly sheltered infant, could change everything -- for the better, by the way, until people began to sell his truth to the highest and most conforming bidder.
Christmas, to me, then, is a reminder that one day a child will be born who will figure out how to save this planet you love so much, Nacl. S/he will do it out of passion, born from a gift particularly his/her own, a gift that gives the child and then the grownup a unique pleasure and satisfaction when it is acted upon. It will not be a chore or an obligation. It will be a lifelong act of love.
It could be you, Nacl, and if not, it will certainly be someone like you. Someone who knows the problem and doesn't deny it. Someone who can't be bought off. Someone who can motivate and negotiate and, yes, even compromise, but there's no time for a lot of that.
It will be exciting, maybe more so than any other movement or event in history. Look forward to it, Nacl, and be not afraid. Turn your fear of the Commander-in-Cheeto into a laser-sharp focus on your mission.
You know, it is said that Joan of Arc willed her soldiers -- not shamed them -- into going into battle, into chasing the English out of France. Her moral strength forbade their resistance and naturally fueled their courage. I sense that you share this strength, Nacl. Use it.
And Joan, too, was an illiterate less-than-nobody, an unwashed tomboy with dirt under her nails, no hope for the prom, a being less respected in her time than a farm animal, according to Richard Einhorn.* On an unremarkable day, she is going about her chores, when she suddenly feels called to turn her hope for an English-free France into a reality.
And don't forget Charles Darwin (known as Chucky-D on the streets). He was a little baby. Then he was a student. Then a scientist. Eventually he grew the courage to share his findings, and the world has not been the same since. Even in 2016, there are people who soil their pants at the mere sound of his name.
The world, after a long sickness, is going to get well. Young people a little older than you have repeatedly said to me, "When your generation dies off, we will fix this thing." Believe them, Nacl. I do. They need to grow a bit and vote a lot first, but they won't let selfish old coots drag Mother Earth into the grave with them. It'll be a battle, and it'll be scary and dangerous, but I still wish I could live to see it.
Once more, and don't forget this: Be not afraid. The Creep of Tweet and his Sheep Veep won't be a hindrance for a long. They'll quickly go the way of fanny packs, Yugos, and brick-and-mortar bookstores.
And I tell you this: Before the sun sets on this beautiful day, I will contribute to Greenpeace in your name. Sure, it won't be much because the blog this Xmas card first appeared in has neither ads nor contributors . . . but it's the gesture that counts. Also, perhaps one day you can name the first fully solar-powered coal-processing plant after me.
Merry Christmas, little guy. While we can breathe, there's hope.
With love and hope, I remain
*And why would the guy who was inspired by Carl Dreyer's Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) to write Voices of Light as its soundtrack lie about something like that?