America Will Change When You Change

From on top of Argentina Peak in the White Mountain Wilderness, I gaze into an endless horizon. Mountain ranges stack in hazy, indigo bands. A white fog emerges where wind kicks up the gypsum powder of White Sands, fifty miles away. Below, in the desert, a black scar divides the plain.

I can just make out the little island where I’m camped in the Valley of Fires Recreation Area. A patch of beige surrounded by a dark, lifeless void.

From here, you wouldn’t call The Valley of Fires a park. But from our campsite, the beauty is undeniable.

Image by Russ Lintonlicensed under CC BY 2.0.

Critters scurry over the baked surface, ducking into hollows and caves throughout the ancient lava flow. Trees and bushes grasp the volcanic rock, their roots processing and breaking down water and soil collected in natural pockets on the porous stone.

Thousands of years ago, a destructive vent opened near here. Pressure the earth could no longer contain. Molten rock spewed in a slick nearly fifty miles long and one hundred and sixty feet thick.

I can feel a similar pressure. A buried, boiling friction ready to burst. But we all knew today, November 4th 2020, would be like this.

I’ve ignored the mounting tension far too long. We all have. An unresolved and festering problem set to erupt.

I often tried to absolve my guilt by voting third party. I know. I’ve heard all the abuse. Why waste your vote? Why cast a ballot for the other guy?

Because toxic partisan politics is destroying this country.

For me, “the other guy” is a myth. A myth evolved into a nighttime horror meant to keep the children in bed. But there are no true boogeymen. The constant painting of incompetent and mediocre candidates in this Land of Plenty as a choice between Hitler or Stalin is laughable.

And incomprehensibly dangerous.

Besides, Trump or Biden the ultimate evil? Seriously? This altered reality reads more like Barney Fife versus Boss Hogg. 

Nearly one hundred percent of Americans will disagree with me. They’ll push their narrative, the one where they’re voting to save the soul of our nation. Built from political rhetoric, they imagine they’re on a crusade and allow the increasing desperation of waning political parties put the country at each other’s throats.

By doing so, they’re opening the flood gates for a molten river of destruction to carve up this indivisible in a nihilistic bid to maintain control.

Image by Russ Lintonlicensed under CC BY 2.0.

The good news is this cataclysm is man made. It can be undone. All it takes is the will to change.

First, see past the sulfurous smoke being blown into your eyes. You aren’t seeing a war for the future of this country. You’re seeing an increasingly irrelevant establishment doing everything it can to survive by stubbornly holding onto the past.

But regardless which party ends up in office, the actual fate of the country is in your hands. America changes when you do.

Think Black Lives Matter? Don’t assume a Tweet let’s you off the hook to put in real work. Peacefully demonstrate and protest to bring awareness. But also volunteer in and assist Black communities. Build lasting connections. Buck the system you claim advantage in (and should be wary of) despite your relative comfort.

Want energy independence using renewable sources? Buy a solar power or wind system, or both. Sell your energy to the same grid you’ve been dependent on. Become an asset not a liability. But accept that to transition to renewable energy, we’ll need to mine the necessary rare earths in our own backyards and that some communities will need other technology to bridge the gap.

Worried about data privacy? Lock your information up. Treat it as the precious commodity it has become, and stop spreading it around like COVID-19.

Oh that. The global pandemic. Worried about it? You should be. Listen to the medical experts and wear a mask. Want our economy to not lockdown again? Wear a damn mask.

Speaking of the economy, do you want money out of politics? Want to be free of corporate monopolies? Do you feel social media sites are censoring your message? Stop using their services.

Starve the corporations you disagree with. Buy from local businesses. Curb wasteful consumption. Change your online activity.

Modify each and every habit until everything you are and everything you do supports the people and the causes you love. Stop building yourself around who can tear down and start building yourself around who you can raise up.

Don’t fixate on intractable, fringe issues which keep us all from moving forward. Don’t keep stoking the same divisive politics bubbling under the surface. Don’t let partisan ranting and raving use you as the vent to unleash their fiery hatred across our troubled country.

Your balloted idols won’t save you from yourself. They have too much at stake keeping you boiling, ready to defend them at all costs. Don’t give them the satisfaction.

Break down the scar tissue. Restore vibrancy and life. Find those gaps where we can all thrive and grow. One day we’ll look at back, not to flee to safety, but to see what we’ve overcome. Together.

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