October 31, 2014

They say that people and their dogs look alike. I don’t have a dog and I certainly don’t look like Scout the Cat. But I can say with certainty that people do not look like Nature.

We have evolved so away from our roots, so fast that we have become incompatible with the natural world. After all, we were fish and we crawled onto land, and we looked at the brave new, waterless world, and our suspicious natures started right there. And whales, those magnificent mammals, took a look around on the dry land and wisely crawled back to the oceans. And now we long to get “back to the Garden,” when if fact we poisoned the garden and the sea.

Machines will replace, are replacing, most of the work that our ancestors did. Family farms are museums. 3D printers make guitars. Teachers are ceding hands-on learning to computers. What do we do now?

Yesterday on the Genehouse journey, I was walking through the woods and heard a great chatter of birds. I stopped and watched hundreds of robins flitting through the treetops. Robins do not migrate—stop telling your children that. They retreat from our lawns, into the woods, and subsist on berries and crabapples and warm-day grubs. And they make a racket and make a party of winter. Like goldfinches, their color fades to almost an earth tone.

The bone structure of a robin is a miniature version of the T-Rex skeleton. Not all dinosaurs were wiped out in cataclysms. The survivors could no longer sustain the gigantism of their ancestors. Over millions of years they got small—but not to a worm. The worms see thunder lizards, as T-Rex’s cousins, robins run as in a Spielberg film and yank them from the ground, from their families, from life.

We don’t believe in evolution. The schoolchildren of Texas don’t even hear the word “evolution,” as moronic religious sects and rightwing politicians appeal to our least logical, reptilian brainstem view of the world, and we choose ignorance and superstition and ignore the truly great miracles of creation. The ignorant and the superstitious fall prey to scares, of Ebola, of blacks, of attack, and they arm themselves and they dare decent people to speak up.

I saw a woman this morning, at my café. She was the grimmest looking person I have ever seen: petite, lost in her sweater and pants, sunken face, downward horseshoe lips, eyes not the least curious, focused out the windows. She looked as if she had been severely beaten.

A young waitress wearing a hippie Halloween costume, knowing this customer, brought her unrequested pancakes and a glass of Coke. The woman made no acknowledgment. She sawed her food with practiced hands. She masticated and stared at the tabletop and sipped Coke through a straw. There was no evidence of pleasure. There was sure evidence of her being beaten down by life. She scared me.

She would not see robins until next spring. Her burdens would bend her spine into an ess curve. She was a human Clifton Terrace winding road, and someone had ridden her hard. If there was a husband, I could not imagine what words might transpire between them. She lived for pancakes.

My god, such agony on that poor woman’s face. On my darkest day, I have never felt the despair that was stamped and etched and engraved onto that face.

She put some dollar bills on the table and walked through the aisles of tables, no one casting a friendly glance. She passed her waitress without a word and walked out into the howling wind.

Our T-Rex is cancer. The plastic and nuclear and chemical revolution of the 40’s was lethally toxic. The parallel to that is slavery. We ask how could there be slavery. And a teacher will answer, the people of that time didn’t know, the oppressors didn’t know, but now we’re enlightened.

So the chemists and the physicists didn’t know that their brilliance would create micro-predators which would feast on human flesh. If they did know, they were murderers on the scale of Nazism.

But now we’re enlightened.

About Eugene Jones Baldwin

I am a writer: non-fiction, fiction, journalism (Alton Telegraph), essays (The Genehouse Chronicles) and have a website: eugenebaldwin.com. I've published a couple dozen short stories and had eleven plays produced. Current projects: "Brother of the Stones" (available on Kindle), a book of short stories; "The Faithful Husband of the Rain, short stories"; "A Black Soldier's Letters Home, WWII,;" "There is No Color in Justice," a commentary on racism; "Ratkillers," a new play. I am an avocational archaeologist and I take parts of my collection of several thousand Indian artifacts (personal finds) to schools, nature centers, libraries etc. and talk about the 20,000 year history of The First people in Illinois. (See link to website) I'm also a playwright (eleven plays produced), musician, historian (authority on the Underground Railroad in Illinois, the Tuskegee Airmen) and teacher.
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