Jay Meehan: Joy in the time of Trump
Park Record columnist
“I don’t want you anymore cause you took my joy.” — Lucinda Williams
Try as I might, retaining a sense of joy and wonder in the time of Trump has become pretty much a non-starter. And it matters little if I attempt to deal with it philosophically or spiritually. The former only elicits Albert Camus’ “The Myth of Sisyphus,” while the latter shatters all with the impending loss of so many of my sacred space touchstones.
Sisyphus, as you may recall, delineates, symbolically, the “philosophy of the absurd,” man’s search for meaning when God, eternal truths and values have seemingly left the building. Our hero spends his life rolling a large stone up a steep hill, whereupon, near the top, it rolls back down, and he begins again.
This struggle only continues for all his days. So he’s got that going for him.
On the spiritual side, of late, my only method of inducing a state of ecstatic joy has come from wandering segments of the wilderness out here in the west where, with apologies to Thomas Wolfe, the states are square. Well, let me tell you something Tom, I could use something a bit more trapezoidal at this point.
For much of my adult life, the wilderness has been my savior. It has become pretty much the sole entity radiating an amount of “awe” sufficient to my refueling needs. It’s like standing under a quiet waterfall with head tossed back.
The problem is, at least here in the greater four-corners region where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona have discovered the geographical faith to unite, if you toss your head far enough back, your vision becomes clouded by a future of smokestacks and drilling rigs.
And let me be clear, I have little wish for personal redemption at this point if the cost comes with the loss of Mother Earth and its creatures, including humanity, which, if most corporate shareholders continue to have their way, looms large. “Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit,” as Cactus Ed Abbey used to say.
I’ve got a plan. How about we — both you, the greedy component of the extraction industries masked as Christians following God’s will, and I, a simple pilgrim with a history of wandering the wilderness — just agree to stay out of this obviously enchanting landscape we treat with such life affirming adoration.
By the way, where have all the true Christians gone? Those who have infused their life with the beatitudes, where are their voices when they are so needed? Have they been drowned out by the bully pulpits of the “right?”
There is this ever-widening gulf between the precepts of Christianity as I came to understand them as a card-carrying altar boy and member in good standing of St. Rita’s Parish up in the Idaho panhandle and the practice of same by most of the current crop: Those who would allow the likes of Trump to tweet their religious priorities.
This Old Testament “Thou shalt not” bunch deals in fear and greed and making America “white” again. They extol Christ while comfortably re-interpreting the teachings of Jesus by leaving out humility, charity and brotherly love. One gets the feeling that they believe, in the eschatological sense, that you can take it with you.
Come on, you atonement deniers and land pillagers, Jesus taught transformation. Take a walk on the wild side. Allow the land to fill your heart. Allow love to once again become the prime motive of the Christian.
Not for a minute do I wish to imply that I am not a sinner. In fact, I have been a poster child for lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride pretty much since I first became aware of separateness.
The wilderness, however, began chipping away at my shortcomings almost from the first instant my boots hit the red rock. It’s just that it’s still got much work to accomplish, so, if you would, please leave Bears Ears and Grand Staircase/Escalante out of your conquest equations until their healing missions are further along.
And if you wish to meet some true keepers of the faith, you might tithe a bit of your own time toward such an effort. Although you may not recognize them at first, love, peace, and wisdom wander those same deserts. Go ahead. Take a walk on the wild side. Give me back my joy!
Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social and political scenes for more than 40 years.
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Columnist Amy Roberts writes that Park City should allow voters to decide whether they want to foot the bill for an arts and culture district. “Not putting such a controversial and expensive project on the ballot just seems, well, cuckoo.”