While I've been writing these first drafts for a book about irrigation on the East Slope of the Rockies, emphasizing the importance of water to life, these things have happened:
Terrifying huge forest fires are sweeping whole countries and killing brave handsome people;
The president has accused rivers of malignantly deserting the fires and heading for the sea;
Farmers in some places have watched their crops die off in such numbers that some countries will soon face riots because of starvation;
Water may have been discovered on Mars -- which is useless but makes us feel better;
The least of my almost-adult cats has somehow had his lower jaw torn loose, hanging so he cannot drink and will probably die. There seems no way to either help him or kill him. His sister is in heat and will probably have a new batch of kittens in six to eight weeks. So far the big bull tomcat who forces fertility has eaten the newborns.
And that's the tale of water in human life, except that we mostly ARE water, because our bodies circulate the sustenance and state of our interacting flesh cells in a solution of water contained by skin.
This is not the end of the world, just a painful time globally and personally. It's a bottleneck. There are losses.
Meeting the emotional pain and dealing with bad things that have no remedy, I am pressed against my value system, which is an awkward mess of two systems in collision. All my life I was taught the middle class mantra:
Knowledge of Western history and ways,
Avoidance of all stigmatized and wicked people while
remembering they are worthy of compassion,
Professionalization and delegation of anything unpleasant
or mysterious like sickness, law, theology, crime,
Above all, prosperity -- both because one must pay for the
element just above and because it IS virtue -- one's
status is connected to how one dresses, lives, eats,
drives, stays slim and fit. That's the key to the
second undercutting: a swarm of profit-seeking under-
professionals running gyms, beauty salons, banks,
Fence off, withdraw, deny, don't find out, ignore what can be ignored.
But more than most middle class people, I was exposed to different cultures in two ways. One was the truly elite, people with infinite money who were rather attracted to the Third World, the Ghetto, the Artistic, the Gay or ForSale, because they could afford it. The other because they ARE it: the rez, the ghetto, the loft and studio. Some are used to it. Some want desperately to have the safety and ease they think are present in the middle class, and some cheerfully rip off the elite. As for professionals, all three social categories -- Third World, Middle Class and Elite -- are present within all of them, mostly unacknowledged but acted upon.
My most major mistake in all of these contexts has been to try to breach the divisions: to say they make no difference and try to be "classless", the same way that I tried to avoid psychological defenses: no projection, no rationalization, no deflection, no narcissism, etc. Neither is possible.
But a person doesn't have to be locked into one class or any set of defences (which also tend to distribute into classes, like elite narcissism or low-class self rebuke, or maybe middle class denial and exclusion.) The alternative takes a lot of energy and time to sort through what should be done or how one is ignoring what one is doing, how it works, why there should be something better. Fending off those who want to interfere.
Teachers, clergy, doctors were once proud members of the middle class because that's where their status and community respect came from. They were acknowledged as specialists and obeyed. The state of science today has undercut all that in two ways. At the "high" end all three professions have become SO professionalized that they are impossible for an ordinary person to understand.
I do follow the scientific clues on Twitter but can only read parts and struggle to grasp the implications because one must learn a Latinate naming system and complex molecular chemistry. The arguments about life on Mars are never quite right, they say, because ordinary people cling to their old ideas (what about the canals on Mars?) and can't quite accept that science never says anything is invariably true -- they want things to hold still. Teachers are supposed to be like the teachers the grandparents had and teach those some things. Clergy -- who gets the fancy stuff? Just make us feel safe and right.
Third World people (the ones who have the energy and time) notice that they aren't being included unless it is in some fancy way that doesn't put water in the can they've carried for days of walking in desert. They're a source of fashion, maybe music, but they are never quite real. "Ordinary" people are actually white, entitled, guarded, and out of pain or hunger. If not, they must be bad -- to deserve it.
A few Third World people, beneficiaries of intervenors mostly from the middle class, grasp technology and as it becomes cheaper and more widespread, they can become invisible except for what they do and show. This will eventually become a powerful force for change, but so far most of the Middle Class only watches it, and the Elite ignore it. So on Twitter -- the least censored megamedia so I see a lot of taboo things but don't care -- I follow Canadian up-north rez folks in their struggle to match the tech access with the human identity dilemmas by creating organizations without letting them become institutions with hierarchies and bureaucracies.
Many of what seem to be culture clashes are really based on class and status. No one cares if you venerate reindeer, they just don't want it to interfere with their pipelines and oil wells. Even the Elite notice if the status quo gets rocked enough. Otherwise they are happily oblivious with their secret banks -- on islands that will soon be flooded because they ignored climate change. The Middle Class is still so full of hating the King that they refuse to consider nationalizing the Elite.
So what about this situation I'm in? The nearly-cat goes on living with his jaw fur hanging down, exposing white bone and black caked blood. He tries to drink and seems to manage a bit, but can't eat. I gave him a bit of milk. But why? It would be better if he died. I tried Google: mostly advice about how to crush his head. I'm not up to it. The vet is closed for the weekend -- he's thirty miles away and the temp is one hundred. My pickup is in the shop.
We're so crazed about drugs that I have no access to any that would end the cat. Too many people want to kill themselves. Too many people want to force birth. Do they never ask why no one wants to live and raise babies? Do they never endure a suffering creature curled on their bosom, waiting to die? They would not tolerate it. They would live in a city where there is a 24-hour vet and an animal shelter and enough money for gas and an air-conditioned car.
Monday the pickup will get fixed. The vet will be open. It will be cooler. What else?