MUSHROOM CLOUDS AT MIDNIGHT
It doesn’t pay to think in the middle of the night.
Even my computer messes with me, protesting that I should cease and desist . . . and a voice whispers in my head, Don’t write this stuff down. It won’t do you any good, and it won’t help the world. Besides, who wants to read it?.
But tonight I can’t help it.
What set me off was a warning on TV about nuclear power plants—a pediatrician describing how nuclear plants spew carcinogens into the air, causing malignancies in those who live nearby . . . how Germany, having discovered their children dying of cancer, is shutting them all down. But here? Our country plans to power them all up, even extending the licenses of aging plants.
I’m in bed and can’t sleep. Power plants billow before my eyes. Then I see forest fires exploding in Washington, walls of flame raging skyward as though hurled by demons--and elsewhere, fields and forests alike burning freely, as though this is the natural order of things . . . and I think, God, please . . . can’t you spare some rain? Just three days’ worth?
Like the fire, my thoughts rage on . . . houses swept into rivers, people escaping city-wide floods in boats . . . tornadoes tearing up the land . . . and this winter in Boston, snow piled higher than anyone has ever seen. Every month a new disaster, until it’s clear that “normal” weather no longer exists. Yet the Florida governor will not allow the words climate change used officially--even as the ocean threatens to work its way inland. Meanwhile, half the members of Congress insist that global warming is a hoax. Don’t try to fix it, Obama. We’ll sue.
What global warming doesn’t do to us, we do to ourselves. Half of us are dying to own guns. Well, we’re dying, all right, at least 30,000 of us a year, and the more guns we own, the more of us will die. But the NRA doesn’t believe in statistics; they believe in firepower. If guns are good, assault rifles can’t be bad. If adults need shooting lessons, so do eight-year-olds. They also believe money buys votes. Who has more power in Congress, anyway? The dead children in Newtown, or the NRA?
Just today, two women on a TV crew are shot—in daylight, on television.
Of all the bad things that occur to me at midnight, none are worse than ISIS. Not since ancient barbarians poured down from the hills and killed indiscriminately have we seen more brutality, more slaying without reason, more beheadings, more destruction of precious antiquities, more enslavement of women.
In the same area, of course, Assad is gassing his own people.
Enough, I think. Here and there in our country we see glimmers of hope: Little children collecting groceries to help grownups who are hungry. A new head of the FBI whose principles are stronger than his ambitions. Kids learning to play violins. An old man setting up his sewing machine on a sidewalk to mend clothes for strangers. A cute little boy with two new hands. And miracle of miracles—a possible cure for melanoma.
So it isn’t all grim, even in the dark hours of the night.