An algorithm reminded me that it’s been three years since the March for Science.
This was one of several huge protests that occurred after Trump’s inauguration by a people desperate to show their resistance to the cruelty and stupidity of the new regime.
It was a rainy afternoon and I went to take photos. I looked for people I knew in the march – I’d spent years working in science communications for NOAA and The Nature Conservancy.
On that Earth Day in 2017, I thought that the attack on science was a tragedy.Hurricane forecasts would be less precise, cancer treatments would be delayed, basic research would get defunded.
The know-nothingism would harm the country, of course, but would not impact me personally.
Now, I live in an abandoned city. My only contact with other humans is through webcam. I scrounge grocery stores for toilet paper among mask-wearing shoppers terrified of catching disease.
I just finished watching The Plot Against America. The HBO series is based upon Philip Roth’s novel of the same name, depicting an alternate history where Charles Lindbergh becomes president, persecutes the Jews and allies with Hitler. Yet, the forces of democracy resist.
The series ends with a beautiful montage expressing the hope and horror that is America. Sinatra croons as people of all races, creeds and beliefs line up to vote. Then the screen dissolves to ballot boxes being burned. The Levin family anxiously listens in to their radio for election results.
Unlike the novel, the ending is ambiguous. You can decide for yourself whether the country chose fascism or FDR.
Last week, I was on a Zoom call with friends. After an hour of gloom-and-doom talk, I had to drop out. I could not take any more Coronavirus news and speculation.
Back in 2017, around the time of the Science March, I thought I had problems. Compared to today, these were not problems.
The Obstacle is the Way was an enormous comfort to me. The book popularizes age-old Stoic ideas with examples drawn from history. Rather than bemoaning your fate (plague was common in the Roman world of the Stoics), you should do what you can with what you have available. Action is the way to overcome anxiety. In other words:
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
I do not have control over the pandemic or the government’s fumbling response to it.
But I can act.
Together, we can wrench this country back to the right timeline.