To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Monday, June 27, 2022


More Viewpoints Benefit Everyone


Four friends met up in the Arkansas Ozarks recently. Two of them have a cabin on the side of a mountain. The other two came to visit. For simplicity’s sake, let’s call these comrades Sandra, Jim, Barry and Gary.

Over the course of two days, they strolled along a two-mile trail beside a creek to look at a natural bridge and waterfall and then enjoyed the sights on a much shorter and much, much steeper abandoned logging trail from the cabin down and back to a boiling, roiling whitewater creek.

All four are nature-loving devotees of Mother Earth. Jim, in fact, has a song called Tree Hugger. Having painted four versions of a cedar tree on the corner near a former home, Gary agrees, “Some of my best friends are trees.”

And Barry planted a magnolia tree to hold the ashes and honor the memory of his wife, the love of his life.

All but Gary were regular attendees at East Texas environmentalist powwows. Sandra and Jim took the extra step of becoming certified master naturalists. Staying alert to natural signs and wonders are part of the makeup of these pals.

It could be said they subscribe to the Heraclitean doctrine that unless you go looking for the unexpected, you will never find truth, for it is hard to find. And traveling together, they put four pairs of eyes on the world.

Sandra spotted the water moccasin in the shaded rocks along Clark Creek. Would anyone else have seen it in passing?

While she and Jim identified wildflowers, she also pointed out the umbrella magnolia sapling, with its distinctive stem and leaf configuration reminiscent of, yes, an umbrella.

Barry, who had been the first to see elk, was at the back of the single file going down to Beech Creek. This put him higher than the others. Looking above and beyond them, he saw the feral hogs tearing away from the sound of voices.

Barry also found the dry footing for reaching the creek bank as the group negotiated the muddy bog remnants of the hogs’ morning marauding.

Gary had managed to ID a mayapple, which, along with the stifling humidity following an overnight downpour and that raucous jungle call of the Pileated woodpecker, had revived memories of East Texas.

And while stopping to catch his breath on the way back up the trail, he turned his gaze downhill and caught sight of the snow white blossoms high in the canopy from a full-grown umbrella magnolia.

At another rest stop, Jim pointed out the hawk weaving through the trees. Having already assured Gary that what looked like a violet leaf was ginger, he later found a substantial stand and pulled up one to demonstrate the ginger aroma of its root. Barry took the same action with wild garlic.

Gary’s proudest moment was directing attention to a 40- to 50-foot runoff waterfall brought to life by the torrential rain.

Four sets of eyes taking in the countryside. What some missed, others detected. All benefitted.

The more perspectives that can be brought to a situation, the better the chances of making a memorable discovery or a better-informed decision.

This unirace of people contains many cultures. Getting as many as possible involved increases its chances for success – locally, nationally and internationally. Who knows who will spot that crucial piece of evidence that will enrich all lives.

Essential to this cooperative growth of the individual is the necessity that those interacting share the same reality.

Having often “hiked alone instead of staying home,” Gary has developed a high sense of pareidolia, that daydreaming ability to see faces and fanciful figures in clouds, rock formations, driftwood or even smaller objects. This “talent” determines most of his picture taking.

Heading down to Beech Creek, he declared some boulders as headstones, imagining the scratches, moss and lichens as remnant inscriptions. Two small boulders supporting another stone above the space between them became a dolmen for the fairy folk.

All in good fun; maybe raw material for creative exploration. But he did not insist that he and his friends were disturbing a graveyard or threatening the brownies who must be expiated with milk and honey.

That would be akin to claiming that Joe Biden did not win the presidential election, that Republican election officials in several states “stole” the election from their own candidate, that said Loser did not sic his storm troopers on the Capitol in an attempted coup and then refusing to take part in the real business of our real and legitimate government.

Republicans have tried to monkey-wrench government to a standstill since the days of Newt Gingrich. A defense strong enough to protect their loot is all they seek. A chaotic, ineffective government has allowed their robber baron backers to plunder the country.

The last administration gave them the equivalent of privateering licenses – profiteering from both sides of the opioid epidemic and making obscene profits while individuals suffered during a pandemic-fed economic slump that Republican indifference only deepened.

Republicans have created a false reality where the affluent and privileged claim to be the disadvantaged and threatened. They have found willing believers in their false narratives, even among some of their most obvious victims – sadly, because this lie gives others a license to hate – revealing the bigoted core of their beings.

Gary would come closer to transcribing tombstone epitaphs in the Ozark forest than Republicans will to finding legitimate election irregularities. And we cannot rule out illegitimate ones. They have become trapped in their own fantasies.

As the stakes get larger, so do the Republican lies and ridiculous conspiracy theories. And when you hear that one of those bigoted liars has “doubled down” on an outrageous claim, just substitute the words “lied louder.”

Speaking of Republican conspiracies, let us remember that the at heart of the QAnon nonsense – which now determines party policy – was the claim that Democrats and other globalists were running an international sex ring involving minors. Turns out they were partially right, except that the ring leader was the former wingman for their would-be führer, who acknowledged knowledge of Jeffrey Epstein’s predilection for very young girls a long time ago.

In olden times, the Republicans insisted they were the party of hard-headed realism as opposed to soft-hearted Democrats. Hard-headed fantasists is more like it today.

Until they start telling the truth about the election, the coup attempt, the pandemic, their view of their supporters as collateral damage to their greed, we won’t be able to believe anything they say while standing upon their foundation of weak and shifting sand.

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Gary Edmondson
Gary Edmondson
Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democrats. He lives in Duncan, following a sporadic career as a small-town journalist, mostly in Texas, and as an editor of educational audio-visual materials. Some days he's a philosopher/poet, others a poet/philosopher.