15 Oct Tick Tock
Two factors underlie every issue at stake in the coming elections and in our country—in the world, in fact.
Immigration, widening economic divides, advances in technology oblivious to consequences, violence of all kinds, reproductive health and justice, literacy and education, issues of racism, ethnicity and class, disability and age, identity and sexuality, and on and on. These are, and should be, in the headlines.
But two factors distill all those issues, underlie them, and must be addressed in order to solve them. Our history of ignoring both of these factors is responsible for those issues in the first place, and has been overwhelmed by them. Yet the two factors together unlock the only answers to this crisis. The two factors are simple. They ought to be obvious.
1. The planet is likely to be destroyed by humanity—within decades.
2. Half of humanity has been silenced in the search for solutions—for millennia.
Both factors have now emerged so dramatically they can no longer be ignored.
The United Nations Intergovernmental Report on Climate Change notes that greenhouse emissions must be reduced by half immediately or there’s no stopping irreversible disaster by 2040. Damage will top 54 trillion dollars unless the entire world economy is utterly transformed in the next few years. We have less than 25 years before climate change of an intensity and swiftness without precedent in documented history makes our planet unlivable. Heavier rain in larger storms on rising seas. Coastlines washed away, archipelagos and islands drowned. Riots due to worsening food shortages and water wars, wildfires, increasingly lethal hurricanes and typhoons birthed by heating oceans, floods, a mass die-off of coral reefs, violent disruption of the food chain. Migration of entire populations forced to abandon industrial regions with unbreathable air and forced to abandon no longer arable land; African, South American, and Pacific Islander farmers relocating to newly thawed lands in the Arctic circle and in Antarctica. Migrations of tropical vegetation, animals, and insects to cooler climates, as well. Famine and proliferation of disease. Chaotic uprooting of cultures, languages, social structures. Population increase and crowding in the polar regions, starvation, pandemics. And most of all, little pure water to drink.
This is no longer science-fiction dystopia. Tick tock.
But headlines also scream: The Women’s March was the largest demonstration in world history. There is already a 14 point and growing gender gap among American voters. In 1991, the majority of Americans believed Clarence Thomas and not Anita Hill; in 2018 the majority of Americans believed Christine Blasey Ford and not Brett Kavanaugh. Women are angry, profoundly angry, erupting along every fault line in the patriarchy. In the U.S., women are running for office in record numbers, and women comprise the majority of the population. These statistics are paralleled internationally, taking different shapes in other cultures and political systems. #MeToo consciousness plus internet communications equal feminism as a transformational global force. And feminism has always been about saving women—and men and children too, all living things—and saving the small blue marble to which we cling in the vast darkness of space.
Balance the dystopic future scenario against right-wing politicians’ whining that they are victims when they control all three branches of government in the United States of America, the most powerful country in the world. Balance it against the Electoral College, where each individual Wyoming vote weighs 3.6 times more then an individual Californian’s vote, where if you average the 10 most populous states and compare the power of their residents’ votes to those of the least populous states, you get a ratio of 1 to 2.5. Balance that against the reality that in the last midterms in 2014, only 16 percent of citizens age 18-29 voted. If we change it here, there will be a ripple effect across the world. Everything is at stake, and each of us is responsible. Tick tock.
Plan now for election day, round up friends and go vote as a group, because the lines will hopefully be long. Bring snacks and thermoses, and feed others standing on line. Drive elderly friends or neighbors, offer to carpool or babysit, volunteer to work at your polling place, make phone calls between now and November, do everything you can think of and then think of more things to do—and do them. Tick tock tick tock.
Death sits preening himself in our Oval Office, mocking the female half of our species and mocking the tragedy of our once habitable Earth. Our planet is sending distress calls with historically unmatched earthquakes, tsunamis, desertification. We must send our message just as dramatically. No sympathizing from the sidelines anymore. There are no sidelines anymore.
Tick tock Tick Tock TICK TOCK. Join the battle. Because the battle is joined.