The Roughing-Up of Fall

The pelicans are long gone. The caterpillars are crossing the roads, and the snakes, when it’s sunny, are sunning. The Northern flickers are caucusing and the ravens are ever talkative, chortling every chance they get at their fair-weathered friends who fly south for the winter.

Even in these fall winds and crazy rains everything feels, well, right as rain…even as we move the mortally wounded snakes to perish somewhat peacefully in the grass, and shoo the uninitiated babies back to the sidelines of the gravel roads. Nature so gently and unassumingly reminds me that everything is as it should be, always.

Then I read the news.

Or I make the mistake of reacting emotionally to something posted on social media.

Or, I … gasp … have feelings.

But the leaves are turning. And when the wind is gentle they rain like golden snowflakes. I watched a young boy chase them with his tongue out, hands reached to the sky, just as he surely has done and will do again during the first snow of our cold season.

I wish we cherished our trees and the earth half as much as half of us cherish a cloth flag, a symbol of a country and a social structure that works really well for some and but not so great for others. I wish so many of us would quit changing the subject from injustice to disrespect. I wish we could truly hear, instead of squirming in our discomfort and then blaming the downtrodden and those who fight for them.

But wishing something is different isn’t abiding by the peace that is God’s plan.

After summer comes the death of autumn, the slumber of winter and the rebirth of spring. After the pendulum swing of Obama came Trump and soon, no doubt, will come the powerful reactionary swing in the opposite direction. We’re not riding a waning pendulum, of course, it’s more of an upward spiral, like the double helix but with an infinite number of strands.

The “woke” among us beckon.

We are becoming (again) as aware of the embedded sexism and the inculcated racism as in the by-gone MLK years. The freedom fighters are once again being called upon to stand united. People everywhere are emerging from their silence and fighting for what is right and good and true. (Why did we ever go silent after such a long, hard battle fifty short years ago?)

But, deep breath, everything is as it should be. The earth doesn’t fight the decay of fall, and neither must we shun and silence the bringers of light who show us our black shadows.

Shame will not work.

Blame has no place.

Perhaps, as they say in the crime thrillers, we should “follow the money.” Where anyone’s self-interests stand to benefit from the subjugation of one race, there racism will remain. 99% of us have no intentions of being racist, but we were raised in a country that was founded by money hungry self-interests, and not a whole lot more. Regardless of our skin color, we have all been conditioned in anti-black and anti-Native American racism, and we don’t even know it.

Winter is coming and we’re not ready. Most of us are still cozy and oblivious in decades-old cocoons, resistant to change, comfortable, even while dubious of it, as is. But the spun silk is showing wear. The hardened few who have been outside the cozy confines fighting to survive in whatever way necessary are weary and worn. They need allies. They need rest. They need feet on the ground in policy-making places who are going to make changes from the ground up to ensure the money vultures stop circling. It’s going to take seasons.

Yes, everything is as it should be as all that we’ve known decays and dies and readies itself for rebirth. This coming winter could be the hardest one in recent memory, but we’ll stay warmer if we work hand in hand, stand side by side, and kneel together when the lights shine just right. It’s the only way to expose the fetid underbelly.

Even the reds and golds of dying leaves lie in their own putrid rot if the wind and sun don’t beat them up a little. And that is the preference. The jostling, the beating, the stripping down is as it should be so we can be worn raw by the winds of change. There is more discomfort (not to be bait-and-switch-interpreted as disrespect, mind you) to come, dear white people, and likely worse for non-whites. Lay yourself open to it like the tumbling fall leaves. What comes after will be worth the roughing-up.

As sure as the spring.

(Published in the October 3rd, 2017 issue of the Warroad Pioneer

 

 

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