Good afternoon from Long Beach, California where Melanie, Miranda and I are in residence for a few days at St. Luke's Episcopal Church.
The church is situated about a mile from the coast where, among other points of interest, boating is a thing as well as oil derricks made to look like off-shore apartment buildings. Melanie and I rode down to the beach yesterday and traveled the Shoreline Pedestrian/Bicycle Path which runs along the beach. Great ride, but for the bit of cool dripping rain that fell during part of our ride. Nothing really to complain about, but one gets spoiled after so many days without rain. Besides, the rain provided a great reason to stop at a local brewery for a beer and chicken wing snack.
As has been our habit recently, we're parked in St. Luke's parish parking lot so Melanie can speak to parishioners about how EPF can assist with their social justice issues. When we arrived yesterday, we were told they were finishing up feeding some of the homeless population and providing showers for them too. Yesterday, I'm told about 200 people came through. But for a glitch in uploading the information, they would also have been registering people to vote.
We continue to see many homeless people on the streets, Long Beach is no exception. Last night we witnessed them sleeping on the street just outside the church parking lot gates.
Which brings me to something that seems increasingly important during this election year. As I was riding a few days ago, I remembered something from our time at the Columbine Memorial Service last April 20th in Columbine, Colorado.
During the service no mention was made of guns or the gun violence that happened 20 years ago, but they did mention their use of the catch phrase, "If you see something, say something." I won't go into the myriad reasons why the use of that method to combat gun violence is mostly wishful thinking, but I would like to put it to use during what is increasingly a very contentious election season.
In the run up to our elections in November, I would advocate, "If you see something, say something. Thoughtful." Let me clear, I'm not necessarily advocating debate or arguing with anyone online or otherwise, though that may be the case, but something akin to what Kurt Andersen advocates in the book, Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire, A 500 Year History, which, by the by, is an excellent read.
[D]istinguishing among the factually true, the dubious, and the false, at least outside religion, doesn't involve judgment calls about taste or "appropriate" and "inappropriate." This struggle should be less fraught.
But it will require a struggle to try and make American reality-based again. We few, we happy few, we band of sisters and brothers-- in fact, we're not really so few. Fight the good fight in your private life. You needn't get into an argument with the stranger who claims George Soros and Uber are conspiring to make his muscle car illegal, but do not give acquaintances and friends and family members free passes. If you have children or grandchildren, teach them to distinguish between foolish and wise. We need to adopt new protocols for information media hygiene. Would you feed your kids a half-eaten casserole a stranger handed to you on the bus, or give them medicine you got from some lady at the gym? Do you have unprotected sex with people you just met? Remember when viral was a bad thing, referring only to the spread of disease? The same goes for what you read and watch and believe.
And fight the good fight in the public sphere. One task, of course, is to contain the worst tendencies of Trumpism and cut off its political-economic fuel, so that a critical mass of fantasy and lies doesn't turn it into something much worse than nasty, oafish, reality-show pseudo conservatism. Progress is not inevitable, but it's not impossible either.
This is not just a progressive cause, liberals can be just as swept up the hysteria and by erroneous information and beliefs as their conservative counterparts. Check sources, see what reliable media has to say about what's being argued. In short, engage, but be informed. Be thoughtful.
Get out of your comfort zone, open your eyes to what is taking place in your community. Our system is not working for a great many of our fellow citizens who suffer various injustices. Melanie and I see this daily. Now is the time for raising consciousness about the issues facing our nation. Before November.
Steven and Melanie