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BK Blog Post
Posted by Wade Rathke.
Wade Rathke is the founder of ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) – a nationwide activist network engaged in community organizing.
Rock Creek, Montana We had come to our last day in our Airstream fishing camp on Rock Creek. Our licenses had run out after catching our last couple of fish the day before. Over the years we had a checklist of a dozen things we had to do, some like disconnecting the solar system from the batteries, turning off the propane tanks, and the final floor mopping as we walk out the door, are last minute, but laying out our annual rodent protection, washing down the insides of the trailer, packing, breaking down the poles and the tackle, washing dishes, cleaning out the coolers, putting away the paper goods, are all things for today. Chaco was just sitting outside before our last dinner in camp looking at the sun start to go by the ridge. I yelled out, “Are you ok?” He nodded, and replied, “Just enjoying the silence.”
It’s a loud kind of silence where the least thing seems amplified. Three blue jays seemed as loud as a hawkers’ market yesterday morning jumping from trees to trailer to trees, establishing their territory. Flies are buzzing. Hummingbirds are whirring behind us. Chipmunks this season have been numerous and almost in attack mode. They chirp from the rocks sometimes more loudly than the birds. One drowned in a bucket of water near the camp table. One tried to jump through the front screen on the trailer, meaning that next year we will have to try and figure out a way to start replacing some of the old screen on the trailer windows. Add that to the list.
We had another good season in camp. We fished off and on for ten days. We hiked several trails. We cleared some brush and cutback some limbs for fire protection. We read. We talked. We ran errands. We drank coffee. We celebrated friends’ birthdays and weddings. We called home every couple of days. We kept busy. We kept calm.
My mind says I’m almost back on the grid, even if the calendar says I have another day or two. In my final dream before waking in the pre-dawn I was helping negotiate some kind of community benefit agreement. What in the world?
I’m going back and forth on the Kindle now between Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities about nationalism and nation building and Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway’s Merchants of Doubt, a book detailing the “tobacco strategy” of science denial including acid rain and climate change. For a break I picked up The New Yorker delivered before we left, which I thought would be a good diversion for an hour while my son slept. There was a long article about an I-phone meditation fad of sorts and its value for some. I figured this and similar experiences must be our version of mindfulness and deep breathing.
I made a mistake and read a long article by Lawrence Wright, a reporter I read closely whenever he appears in the magazine, and value deeply. The story was called “Five Hostages,” and introduced the reader one by one to these young people taken by combatants in Syria, their families, and the rich publisher of The Atlantic and the surprising efforts he organized privately to try and help the families save their children. This was ISIS-country at the margins of our cultural and intellectual understanding.
I’m reasonably well-informed when I’m on the grid. I’m a world traveler with the million miles on United to prove it and the ability to hold up my end of most conversations about distant lands and peoples’ struggles both at home and abroad, but my passport says USA and though mistaken, perhaps correctly, once or twice as being German, most everyone can see I’m an American from a mile away, and I don’t ever pretend differently. What would be the use? This was an American-story of American young men and women, who were also other Americans’ children who were either trying to do “good,” for whatever that is worth, or doing a job, even if risky. I knew this was not going to end well, but Wright somehow held me captive in the story, rooting against reality that somehow they would make it home. When I found myself having to fight back tears welling to get to the mostly unhappy ending, four lost and one returned, I got Wright’s point that policy had to change, but he had me from hello.
But, mainly, I knew it was time to get back home and back to work.
Please enjoy Dope is Dope by Hard Working Americans.
Thanks to KABF.