So while the media, politicians, and advocates debate the scientific reality of environmental decline, and pundits feud over how to coalesce disparate identity groups and political coalitions along socio-economic lines, the Earth is actually being reshaped in a destruction now termed the ‘fifth extinction.’ And that environmental negligence ignores not just the Earth but also our inverse relationship to the land.
As I see it, Frum’s mission in this article was not to incite panic. I believe it was to galvanize the final check and balance in any democracy, aptly captured in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index as “political participation.” The wealthy have long participated in our democracy with their money and their power. The public too wields great power. Numbers. The sheer amount of people who turned out for protests, who phoned Senators in opposition to the refugee ban, are a formidable force. They are the separation between this world and the apocalyptic specter President Trump has conjured in the public imagination.
The protests rail against Trump’s policy proposals, his weaponization of race, gender, and class stereotypes, and his allergy to evidence-based reasoning. Although not wrongheaded, the protests missed a critical component that may very well be the glue that binds disparate identity groups together and returns cohesion to the Democratic Party, and liberals more broadly.
President Donald Trump is a source of bad. But he is also a source of unintentional good. And it is conceivable that either through his deliberate actions or simply by inertia he will cause further good to this country. If we are to get a full picture of Trump’s presidency and identify when action should be taken and when matters should just run their course, we must learn to discern objectively between the two.
As President Trump charges forward with campaign promises to revive the American oil industry, he also ignites environmental protection groups intent on thwarting his efforts and preventing future damage to citizens, the lands they inhabit, and ultimately, the globe
The march brought to light the mass discontent and outrage brewing in the United States and abroad. And that goes well beyond President Trump himself. As I learned at the march, in the eyes of many, President Trump is an incarnation of their darkest fears. As such he is a source of unintentional good. He is a bogeyman come alive who unknowingly wields the power of uniting people in proactive fear and solidarity.
I wondered why so many of us looked at him inspired but didn’t say a word. People photographed him yet did not approach him to applaud his good efforts. We saw a good deed yet didn’t acknowledge it.
Urban foraging teaches us many things. “We learn about plants, botany, and ecology, as well as how people can participate positively in interacting with their local ecosystems,” says Wildman. In New York City, “local ecosystem” is a slippery term. Parks mix with projects that mix with residential homes that mix with corporate buildings. It’s hard to think of brick and mortar as part of the local ecosystem. That’s precisely urban foraging’s power. It alters our perception and our connection to the land.
In short, all I see before us is division. But I also see opportunity. We are exposed. All the guile is removed. It’s scary, sure, but it’s not new. The most underrepresented and mistreated among us knew this brewed beneath the surface of American life. And now we must all confront it. We cannot deny it.
Fingers cling to the gravel, feet balanced hip-length apart: push. Body parallel to the street—in midair —you fly past hydrants, buildings, burgeoning flowers emitting lemon sweet. Remember, you never left the Earth. In the air, you were a bird on all fours. You’ll forget. This moment will melt into the summer, taking the vision of together that means more than not being on all fours.