The starlings have moved on. Apparently even West Virginia is too hot for these raucous birds. The finches have claimed dominance over the bird feeders, sharing them with a few jays, mourning doves, and tiny woodpeckers. The grass has started to brown, and plants wilt from the unrelenting heat and sun. Is this a harbinger of things to come or just a normal variation within the seasons?
I planted a wildflower garden to attract butterflies but have yet to see one—lots of bees but no butterflies. I’ve spotted a few hummingbirds, and hungry deer came up to my patio and ate the Portulaca down to their roots. All of this makes me nervous about climate change; it seems subtle and yet inevitable, like a rising tide that engulfs and drowns those who are not paying attention.
Two other things that worry me are ubiquitous cellphones and recent advertising that promotes formerly taboo behaviors. Standing in line at Chicago’s Willis Tower to take my turn stepping out on The Ledge, I noticed that almost every person over the age of two years had his or her cellphone out and was more engrossed in it than in the experience we were meant to have. People didn’t look over the cityscape; instead they posed for the perfect Snapchat photo! We are becoming a virtual species who find little or no enjoyment in the real world.
Vape shops and electronic cigarette advertisements are everywhere. Students in public school use e-cigarettes no larger than a flash drive when teachers aren’t looking. Movies—even PG films—now feature main characters engaged in smoking, Coca-Cola has one advertisement claiming to care about the environment and clean water while devoting airtime to encourage people to drink Diet Coke, despite research proving that it’s strongly linked to both cancer and diabetes! Let’s not allow abortion, but please feel free to kill yourself with nicotine and diet soda!
Okay, so what’s the big deal? If those issues are not enough to ruin your day, how about the fact that hate crimes against Hispanics have doubled, thanks to the news on stations like Fox and 790 KABC as well as presidential rhetoric? The Orwellian nightmare is approaching and, like the incoming tide, it threatens to wash us all out to sea . . . and with it, our humanity.