Dave has invited me to guest post. I read Seeing the Forest at least daily and rely on it, so I consider this quite an honor! He says I should introduce myself in my first post — and keep it short. Well, I could say “I’m just that mysterious lady” and let it go at that.
I’m liberal, or progressive, or whatever bleeping old-fashioned out-of-date word we’re using today to describe a particular set of shared values, or I wouldn’t be here. I’m also deeply conservative, in the old-fashioned meaning of the word, a conservative being someone who wishes to preserve things. In my naive youth I decided to become a conservator, to preserve art and archaeological artifacts, because I felt strongly that in cold war America civilization itself was under threat and it would make sense to try to keep the best of the past available for future generations. Later I worked for the Department of Environmental Protection in New York City; preserving the environment and quality of living is quite a challenge in a city of over 8 million messy people. I’m proud of that department. I also live within walking distance of the World Trade Center site, watched the twin towers fall, and coped with the aftermath, and I’ll write about that.
I agree entirely with Dave’s point of view and political analysis. These are wildly dangerous times, and there’s more going on than just a battle between points of view or belief systems. This is a battle of values, and there’s nothing rational about what’s going on. The way I see it, the hidden agenda of the radical right is a determination to undo the great secular accomplishments of the enlightenment. In other words, if we aren’t careful, we’re gonna find ourselves coping, not just with the conditions of the last century, but back somewhere before the 16th century. One of the major accomplishments was the establishment of great collective public works. The huge advances in public health and safety didn’t come from medical advances as much as from public, collective engineering projects — safe water supplies and sewer systems for example. Unglamorous but essential. With all collective public works now labeled “Socialism” even this is under threat, and that’s a threat to our health and safety. Just for openers.
– Meryl Johnson