I live in a dry land that once was under water, a seabed now 5000 feet above sea level. Sunrise is held at bay by a granite ridge 5000 feet higher, which at sunset glows as pink as coral. Looking west, the eye is drawn to the sliver of green flanking the Rio Grande, life’s blood trickling through a parched land that rises to five volcanoes close at hand, which in turn are dwarfed by a volcano 80 miles away. All under a sky of limitless blue.
This vista fills me with joy.
Driving into town from any direction, you can take in the largest city in the state with a glance. Stand under the cottonwoods along the river and you forget where you are. Here the land has not been subdued by man. We are surrounded by reminders that we are all recent arrivals and none will outlast the land itself.
The land appears still until you view it at 10,000 years per second, when it shakes and buckles, rises and falls, like a coffee cup on the hood of a truck at rough idle. The land appears flat until you cross it to find the surface cracked and broken by ravines scoured by wind and rain. The land seems silent until the wind howls like an injured animal lashing out in pain.
The land seems dry until a year’s worth of rain falls in a few days. We live for these days and relive them in conversations. We smell the rain before we hear it, we feel the temperature change, listen for the first drops. We sit on our porches, big grins on our faces with the look of wonder like children at a fair.
The Navajo advise each other to walk in beauty, to appreciate our surroundings and be part of that beauty.
This month, I complete my 34th year in New Mexico — more than half my life. This land leaves me speechless.
I’m a good citizen. I vote thoughtfully. I willingly pay taxes for the common good.
I’m a good neighbor. I maintain my property and my distance, but try to greet everyone I meet.
I am not a patriot. To me, patriotism is the happy mask of nationalism. We’re number one! We’re the best! We’re the greatest! It takes no effort to append “and they are the worst and must be destroyed!” More money for defense (war).
Don’t get me wrong. I know there are good people who are proud of their country. Just as there are good people who believe in a book and a god I do not believe in. I don’t want those people running my life or my nation.
I just want you to know there are good people who are not proud of their country. In my 63 years, I’ve been proud to be an American twice — the two times Barrack Obama was elected president by an overwhelming majority ready for a better nation.
I could write these same sentiments any year. My anti-patriotism has little to do with the angry, fearful, shrinking minority that has seized the nation for the rich, the male, and the white.
There is no nation I’d rather live in. Nationalism is a problem wherever you find it. America is good, especially in its potential and its formal goals, which we have yet to achieve. I’m happy to be here, but I will not salute the flag, I will not stand for the anthem, I will not support corrupt politicians or poisonous ideologies. That’s my patriotism. Enjoy your 4th, your fireworks, your war machinery. Tomorrow, resist the forces that will undo all our benefits and freedoms.
Some events send ripples back through time. Two weeks ago, I paused to watch a few minutes of The City on the Edge of Forever, one of my favorite StarTrek episodes. “By chance,” a few days ago I started to read “I have no mouth but I must scream.” As I reached the end of the first page, the author, Harlan Ellison, died.
In his wake, many are talking about how that greatest StarTrek episode wasn’t really what he wrote, but toned down enough to enrage him. Writers and editors circle each other, inky knives drawn.
Many know that Ellison sued Cameron for ripping off an Outer Limits episode Ellison wrote, which, at least, inspired Terminator. I think they both ripped off a great Michael Rennie movie, Cyborg 2087, but you never hear about that.
In that ocean of life, in that bay of human existence, in that puddle of literature, that drip is Ellison. He had to die now for the sake of the timeline.
Recently, our neighborhood Smith’s doubled the number of self-check lines as part of a new program called Scan, Bag, Go. The new system allows a customer to carry a scanner through the store, scanning items as they pick them up. At self-check, the scanner can total the selections, “sparing” the customer the need to scan there.
I’m not opposed to this program, per se. If a customer likes this redistribution of labor, fine.
I’m opposed to the abrupt reduction in the number of cashiers working at any given time. I’ve seen only one or two cashiers at the regular checkout while lines grow.
Self-check was originally sold as reducing checkout time. To force more of us to do the labor of scanning and bagging, Kroger (the parent of Smith’s) has cut back on people in favor of machines.
Many people don’t realize that supermarket cashiers are usually union workers. These people work hard and endure standing and repetitive stress for hours in exchange for decent wages and benefits (I hope). These are our neighbors, families, and friends, taking care of us, and bargaining collectively. Unions are our last, dwindling hope for standing up to corporate profiteers.
This new program takes money out of our community and sends it out-of-state. Now, I’m a shareholder in Kroger and I like dividends and profits. However, I will not see my community impoverished for corporate profit. Kroger — all corporations — must support the communities and workers who support them or there will be hell to pay.
Kris Kobach is charged with investigating Federal elections, yet he LIES about the 2016 results. Our #fakepresident got slightly fewer than 63 million votes. The other candidates got more than 74 million votes, including the nearly 66 million who voted for the winner, Hillary Clinton.