Can Seasonal Change Fix Our Battles?

Summer is over. That’s an indisputable fact.

It’s my favorite season. Always has been. But that doesn’t mean I can make it continue. There is no conspiracy theory that summer didn’t exist or that it hasn’t really ended. At least I haven’t heard of one. Yet. Somehow, though, this summer has left me worn out. Maybe I have long COVID.

On a recent warm Saturday afternoon bike ride around town I could see what appeared to be people going through the motions of trying to enjoy one last nice day off before it ended. They all looked exhausted. A pontoon floated aimlessly past the river front, skippered by someone staring off into space. Motorcycles in massive groups traveled through town, ridden by people who looked like they were ready to put their bikes away for the winter.

I think we’re all tired. We’re living through unprecedented events and conflicts, many of which will not end with the change of season such as the Ukraine war, inflation, politics, COVID, strikes and mass shootings. And that’s just some of them. Then there are the ones historically tied to the summer season such as drought, floods, fires and heat.

I suppose I spend too much time consuming news. It wasn’t summer’s fault that these are occurring, of course. However, I don’t remember a summer so full of serious events.

In my youth I lived through the Cold War, Kennedy assassination, Vietnam War and several periods of inflation and recession. But back then we didn’t have a continuous bombardment of news maybe because we mostly relied on AM radio, black and white TV and newspapers. There was no internet or smart phones to annoy us all day with “breaking” or “trending” news.

And I was too young to need to worry or care about world or local events. That’s what parents were for. I could just focus on school, having fun and staying out of their discussions of the news.

Today, though, we almost can’t avoid it. We’re supposed to just turn off the TV and our smart phones and focus on our own well-being. Still, with the possibility of natural disasters or wars (civil and world), it’s hard to not want to keep up with the latest developments.

Every late summer we expect wildfires, hurricanes, flooding and excessive heat. Climate change is blamed for making them worse. But where we live, those things usually don’t affect us. Sure, we can get wildfire smoke, and rain from the remnants of a hurricane. The smoke makes for great sunsets. Just ask the weather guy. And we can hide in an air-conditioned building if the air is dirty. We have drought but not as bad as many other areas. And, sorry, we’re keeping our water.

Now, those things are part of nature so are mostly uncontrollable by us. COVID, which is also part of nature and affects us all, has divided us when, collectively working together, we could have defeated it. Now it’s here to stay.

How should we handle issues like politics, inflation or shootings, where people take sides and real conflicts grow? How many of you have just casually mentioned something political to an acquaintance and been given a half-hour lecture on why you’re wrong?

So we’ve arrived at a point where we have to be cautious about what subjects we bring up and with whom. Or we just don’t bring anything up and avoid talking to people we used to be close friends with. It’s tough living in an environment where no one dares discuss anything controversial. Even discussing the weather can initiate an argument about global warming. Today we need to carefully preview what we are about to say to make sure it won’t stir up trouble.

I’m surprised there isn’t a scorecard to keep track of which side is winning these arguments. Maybe there is. Certainly someone could figure out a method of measuring daily gains and losses in all of these battles. There’s probably already an app for that.

Remember the many summer riots of years past? Often they were race riots in poor sections of large cities. I remember hearing that they would subside when the weather got cooler in the fall and winter. And for the most part they did. But we know that cooler weather isn’t likely to change the current political battles. They’ll get hotter as we approach the upcoming elections in November’s chill. Then the embers in the ashes of those fires will start the next political fire.

There’s something about winning in America that seems to underscore our entire reason for being. We’ve been told since elementary school that the US is best at practically everything. I was proud that we even helped win world wars. To help maintain our readiness for the next one we have pro sports teams.

For some reason we seem to want to argue and fight over just about everything. Right now it seems that everyone (and even countries) are picking sides for whatever is to come in these unstable times. That’s not reassuring.

Maybe we should hope for really cold weather.