December 4, 2020

After The Pandemic, A Better Way

East of Taos, N.M. is America’s magnificent landscape, a geography of hope that
should inspire us to pursue a better way when the virus subsides. (Photo/Keith Schneider)

BENZONIA, MI — Okay. For the second day in a row I’ve awakened with personal vows. The first is to shed my frustration, my pathology of pissed off, my infernal disgust with the country’s division and its get-it-wrong-at-every-step president. The second is to redirect that stream of contempt to irrigate a meadow of possibility.

The Dixie Chicks is one of my favorite bands, ever since 2003 when they publicly and courageously opposed the Iraq invasion. Here’s what they say about this era of national decline and hate: “Reality is sharp. It cuts at me like a knife. Everyone I know Is in the fight of their life. And I believe there’s a better way.”

So here goes. Joe Biden, just like Barack Obama, will assume the presidency to clean up the mess left by his Republican predecessor. Biden’s goal of unity, safety, and economic recovery will be helped by Democratic control in the House and Senate, which will agree to spending priorities and policy goals that put Americans to work to fix the insane retreats that unfolded during the Trump administration.

The Rio Grande in Big Bend National Park in West Texas, a landscape of overarching beauty that
is an emblem of what America is capable of doing at its best. (Photo/Keith Schneider)

My hope is that next year, as Americans recognize that fighting with each other is no path to solutions, programs considered impossible to achieve before 2020 are enacted at the federal level and supported by states and cities.

They include:

A giant, job-producing, climate-fixing program of technology and invention to develop effective transportation and electrical generating systems that eliminate fossil fuels. The nation-fixing aspiration of the Green New Deal looks very attractive at this moment.

Universal health care for everyone.

Free college tuition for every high school graduate, just as cities like Kalamazoo, MI instituted years ago. And relief from crippling debts for graduates of college, and post-graduate programs.

Sharp increases in staffing and funding for national programs to safeguard land, species, water, air, the climate, and public health.

Powerful and convincing organizing by working people — our essential workers — to increase union membership and raise wages to a minimum national standard of $20 an hour.

A cohesive strategy of economic development, public education, housing fairness, transit, job growth, and environmental restoration that makes American cities showcases of urban prosperity and quality of life.

Breaking the hegemony of industrial agriculture in food production and developing a program of smaller farm agriculture and community-based processing and distribution to make America’s food supply fresher and safer, and reverse agriculture’s toll on soil, water, and rural communities.

Tax increases for corporations and the wealthy to pay for strengthening public education, international health, transit, and environmental protection, all of which they’ve benefitted from but did not share the cost because of favorable tax laws enacted by Congress and several administrations.

A cogent, fair, trustworthy, and reasoned president capable of lifting the United States to a position of earned leadership among nations based on acts of kindness and courage.

A consistent message of cooperation, respect, unity, and collaboration from the president, religious leaders, business executives , and thought leaders to bring to a close this era of hate and tribal division.

These are my steps to a better way. What are yours? Leave a reply below, after the headlines.

— Keith Schneider

Outside Somerset, KY. spring germinates ideas about new beginnings for the land, and for America. (Photo/Keith Schneider)

2 thoughts on “After The Pandemic, A Better Way

  1. I’ve had similar thoughts. I’d feel myself going down, down, down into a pit of despair. I’d then start searching for a way to pull myself up. Inevitably, I’d be cut back down by 45 though. SO, I put my thinking cap and on and asked myself, “Self, what is something I can work on that will help people I care about that 45 can’t take away?”

    I can Build Community. Be friendly. Talk with everyone. Ask questions. Brainstorm solutions. Engage with my neighbors.

    Had been working on that. And then Covid hit. Now, I’m attempting to still do that. Over the internet. While dismissing my fears of plugging in to the Matrix and of reaching the Singularity.

    Then I lift myself out of another pit and put my head back in Benzie County. Here and now.

    And, I take some solace in starting with a clean(er) slate.

    Onward and upward!

  2. Keith, all of the above but just to make it real, add to each paragraph, ‘ to be accomplished while 40% of the country actively, concertedly and effectively oppose.’

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