Beth Rodden, freedom

Climbing legend Beth Rodden tells a difficult story, some of which verges on the nearly unbelievable.

There’s much I’m struck by in the piece. It is not the usual star climber puff piece.

I finished it feeling several things, but none more than the truth that for some of us, of a certain disposition, on certain paths in life, our children set us free.

 

Repentant-Not-Repentant Republicans, and The Atlantic

Not typically the kind of thing I’d be inclined to share, but I will do so, with my comment from earlier, in reference to this piece in The Atlantic, by Eliot Cohen:
 
“I wonder if this is partly why I keep seeing people like David Frum circulating in what I will call the resistive discourse: someone who himself bears some responsibility for getting us here, now trying to salvage his place in history. I suppose I should consider reluctantly giving him a seat at the table of common sense, but I just can’t stop being angry at him–and people like Cohen frankly–who helped pave the way for this situation today, and it’s partly why I just can’t get on board with all these Frum pieces and appearances.”
 
As an aside, can we agree that The Atlantic has become the official home for repentant-non-repetentant Republicans who are beginning to see the light?
 
I’m not sure they should be given an out. The Train of Justice left the station a long time ago, and they’re scrambling after the caboose. But those of a more measured temperament will surely admonish me for not accommodating our new fellow travelers, however faux-repentant they may be.
 
Full disclosure vis-a-vis The Atlantic: my war refugee mother, who came to this country by herself at the age of 17, alone, via Ellis Island, speaking or writing no English (it became her third language), with no friends or family to welcome her, and who was quarantined as well for having had Measles at one time, eventually came to publish one of her first short stories of fiction in The Atlantic in the early 60s. It was about a young girl growing up in a Czech village, having to take one of her family’s pigs to market, an animal to which she had grown attached.
 
The story was a modest success, and was translated in to a few different languages, and published in a few anthologies, and eventually led to her receiving an advance offer from Knopf for her first novel.

Political overlap, leverage, changing minds

In light of the swift death of HR 621, due in large part to the activism of a diverse cross-section of people that includes hunters, conservationists, backpackers, and most every other demographic concerned with land access and environmental conservation, let me offer something that’s been on my mind for a long time.
 
It’s about the possibility of building bridges between otherwise antagonistic communities; about messaging, and, dare I say it, about changing minds.
 
Land access and environmental protection is an area where there is a lot more potential for common cause between traditionally opposed demographics than is understood, and I think it’s a connection that’s worth working on.
 
My baseline position starts as a conservationist and defender of California’s ecology and native flora and fauna. I do that, I climb mountains, smell flowers, camp in the backcountry, all that stereotypically “left” stuff.
 
I also defend ethical hunting and fishing, even though I don’t really participate much in either. By extension, I support responsible, reasonably regulated gun ownership for purposes of recreation, hunting, target shooting, and home protection. Stereotypically “right” stuff.
 
While I do not support opening up more protected lands to ORV use, I do support the idea of maintaining ORV legal areas that exist, and I–and many of us naturalists–have to recognize that our vehicles are themselves having an impact, and that we often drive long, long miles producing emissions in pursuit of our passions. We are not angels either.
 
I also happen to have friends who are hardcore Democrats who also own guns. I have friends who are professional climbing and mountain guides who also hunt big game. I have friends who practice rigorous LNT principles and also like to take modified 4WD vehicles rock crawling.
 
In these overlaps there is opportunity.
 
What can we do with that?
 
How do each of us–coming from our baseline positions–adjust our messaging to actually reach other people who are starting from different positions?
 
Can I use my respect for rational gun ownership as a de-wedge issue to begin a conversation with someone who lives in the Upper Peninsula to demonstrate that
 
A) Many people on “the left” do not want to “take their guns away,” thereby earning some measure of good will, establishig common ground and thus
 
B) Maybe a pro-Democratic notion of strengthening Organized Labor and advanced, social job-training programs might indeed be desirable in their communities which have been decimated by closing factories, closing mines, and closing economic opportunity.
 
Which, once established, may actually begin to demonstrate to people who otherwise demonize “the Left” that actually, having someone work to protect your welfare, develop and strengthen your community isn’t such a bad thing after all.

Paul Ryan, Catholic

Yesterday, I was thinking about Paul Ryan, and his positioning as a thoughtful man of conscience, integrity, and, as a Catholic.
 
Reza Aslan effectively, succinctly points to the brazen hypocrisy of Ryan’s stance over the last year. We all know about that.
 
What I can’t fathom is how a man of such apparently sincere Catholic faith can be so anti-human in his actual deeds as third most powerful man in America.
 
It is especially heart-rending given the explicit dictates of Pope Francis himself, and many other members of the Catholic clergy. This video may help understand that:
 
https://www.facebook.com/FrJamesMartin/videos/10154132008256496/
 
I wonder how Paul Ryan faces his priest every Sunday. How does he reconcile himself with his church and God every week?
 
His soul must retch every waking moment of his life.
 
I have good friends who are devout Catholics. For reasons I won’t bore you with here, I have a bit-more-than-average understanding of the Church and its many related institutions for a layperson.
 
I do not understand how someone like Mr. Ryan can function as a professed Catholic.
 
So what I began to wonder about yesterday was this:
 
Is there some sort of possibility within the church, across all the countless parishes across this country, to appeal to your priests, laity, staff, and anyone else with a working position in the church to organize a movement to pressure and/or censure Mr. Ryan for his fundamentally anti-Catholic position?
 
Is this possible?
 
Is it possible to focus such efforts sufficiently such that his own priest might take him aside, and admonish him, guide him, re-direct him somewhat closer to the will of the church itself?
 
Because right now, Paul Ryan is not acting as a Catholic.
 
He is, in so many ways, an apostate. An infidel.
 
And the church should gather him up and save him, and thus, perhaps, create a man at the helm of his party who may actually begin to return to living his stated positions when this president was a candidate.
 
 
Or is Paul Ryan simply the demon I always believed him to be?
 
History, and his god, will ultimately be the judge. But right now, there are people who need help, and the Church is about help, not hindrance.
 
Catholics: I’m calling on you to talk to your leadership and clergy. Fix your brother Ryan.

Everything is Political — Art.

Look, I don’t want to make everything about politics, but, as we used to say a few decades ago, everything is political.
 
It matters that amid all this crap that you stay engaged with creation and art.
 
Last Friday, I purposefully skipped The Installation. I still haven’t watched that speech, and never will.
 
Instead, I went back to MY safest space, which is art, and by being engaged with that, affirmed its power and hoped-for eventual permanent triumph over anti-human values.
 
I bookended this pivotal weekend with art.
 
Friday night I learned about two new artists, and heard and saw performed some of the most strikingly fresh music I’ve heard in a while:
 
https://clintonpattersonmusic.bandcamp.com
 
https://kidiband.bandcamp.com/releases
 
And last night, Monday, as part of the Monday Evening Concert series, the mounting of three of Julius Eastman’s pieces.
 
And I swear, nothing gives me more energy and power to fight the fuckers of regression and dismay and the champions of the death-drive than music and art and bodies in creative motion, carving out an aesthetically inclusive, morally righteous, maximally just space.
 
It IS political.
 
Fight. Stay active. Call. Protest. Listen. Support your sisters and brothers whose lives and bodies are more imperiled than your own.
 
But don’t forget about art and creation. It is one of our mightiest pillars. Support it. Spend some of your money on it. Support foundations and grass roots arts groups. Support arts education for children and especially children in underserved communities. Support arts education for the incarcerated. Go to your local museums. Participate in free happenings.
 
Before there was a country, there was the voice and the drum.