Sunday, December 15, 2019

The Wheel keeps turning.

I'm feeling pretty good about our holiday preparations here at La Casa Cantwell. The tree is up and decorated, as I mentioned last week; the shopping is done; and most of the baking is done. I have one more batch of cookies to make tonight, and a gluten-free option or two later this week. And I still have to wrap all the gifts. But I feel confident I'll have everything done by Yule, which this year is Saturday the 21st in North America.

What a contrast to the current drama just up the road in DC. In case you've been living under a rock, the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on two articles of impeachment against President Trump this coming week. The vote is scheduled for Wednesday, and it's a foregone conclusion that the House will impeach Trump. Then the drama moves to the Senate, which is obliged to hold a trial on the impeachment articles. A couple of the folks in charge -- namely Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Lindsey Graham -- have already made it clear they expect to speed through a sort-of trial and vote to exonerate the president.

This is not a political blog, so I won't express my opinion on any of that here. (I already spend more than enough time posting about politics on Facebook.) But I expect you guys have gathered my opinion of President Trump anyway. And like a lot of other liberals and progressives, I find it hard, some days, to be upbeat about it all. Some of my friends are wondering why the House is bothering to impeach Trump when the Senate is going to clear him anyway, thereby giving him carte blanche to keep doing what he's doing. It's easy to fall into a pit of despair, especially since the House vote is coming just after Britain voted to keep their Conservative Party in power, which means Brexit will happen now for sure.

It's easy -- and profoundly depressing -- to agree with Medium blogger Umair Haque, whose post last week was titled, This is How a Society Dies. He compares the death spiral of the Soviet Union to what's happening today in the United States and Britain, and suggests that we may never recover.

When the Soviet Union fell apart, it did seem to happen overnight. One day the USSR was the Red Menace, the Communist global superpower that could take us down as soon as look at us; the next, they were a third-world country with nuclear weapons, and we, the United States, were the lone global superpower left standing.

But in the years since then, income inequality has hollowed out our middle class, and our poor never had a chance. About a year and a half ago, the United Nations Human Rights Council declared the United States has the highest income inequality in the Western world. Forty million Americans live in abject or extreme poverty, according to the UNHRC report, and 40% of us couldn't come up with $400 to cover an unexpected expense.

We're the only developed nation without universal healthcare, and yet any proposal from the left to rectify that insanity is met with criticism from the center and the right about how it's too expensive and anyway it doesn't work as well as those deluded lefties would have you believe. Never mind that it was the health insurance industry that wrote the arguments against universal healthcare.

So is the United States just a third-world nation with nuclear weapons? Some days I wonder. Some days it feels like the smartest thing to do would be to escape -- to emigrate to some other country, maybe somewhere sunny, with a stable government and decent healthcare, and hunker down 'til it's all over.

I brought up Yule for a reason. John Beckett wrote a lovely column this weekend about the solstice being the real reason for the season. People on Earth have been celebrating the turning of the seasons since the Earth itself began turning. In the Northern Hemisphere, the days have been getting shorter since June. In North America, this coming Saturday will be the culmination: the winter solstice. The longest night. In ancient times, people would sing, pray, and light bonfires and candles to beseech the sun to return.

And it always does. The Earth turns, and the days begin getting longer again. The singing and the candles don't have anything to do with it -- time turns, and the Earth turns, and the sun returns.

A lot of Pagans rely on the Wheel of the Year for their spiritual observances, but I think time is really more of a spiral. This coming spring will and won't be like last spring. Summer 2020 will be like all the other summers we've ever had, and yet it will be its own thing.

Maybe Trump will still be president then and maybe he won't. When President Nixon faced impeachment, the smart money was on his removal from office -- until he quit. Maybe Trump's impeachment will be like that: he won't leave office until he does, abruptly. And he'll probably let us all know by tweet.

Bernie Sanders tweeted this last week:
It's far from the first time he's said it. But it rings especially true for me, in this season, when the Earth is turning and the sun will soon be returning. We can run, or we can stay and do what we can to make things better. I know which one feels right to me.

And now if you'll excuse me, I have one more batch of cookies to make tonight and they're not going to make themselves.

These moments of Earth-turning blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

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