Some broken hearts never mend, Some memories never end, Some tears will never dry, My love for you will never die*
When I’m faced with difficult decisions, moments of sadness, or when I’m contemplating the state of the world in tumultuous times, I often turn to country music, and its vulnerable and open-hearted lyrics in order to calm the swirl of my thoughts. In particular, I find solace and inspiration in the songs of Don Williams, whose voice defines the word mellow, and whose lyrics can hook a melancholy heart from the depths of despair and bring it to the surface of the soul. It was, therefore, to Don Williams I turned the other day when the news of the world sank my heart to a place so deep I didn’t think it would ever have the will to surface again.
As I cycled through my William’s playlist, “Some Broken Hearts” placed its barb very deep in my sadness, and Don began to reel it up so that I could look at it and try to understand the cause of the pain. Here is what I saw.
The last abdication to capture the world’s attention via public media occurred December 11, 1936, when England’s King Edward VIII gave up his throne to marry American Wallace Simpson “the woman I love.” In acknowledging the moral and political weight of his choice between his sovereign heritage and the love of his life, Edward said, “I have made this, the most serious decision of my life, only upon the single thought of what would, in the end, be best for all.”
On Thursday, June 1, 2017, a global audience watched and listened to another abdication, this one totally devoid of any moral contemplation or love, one fully freighted with the base metal scraps of political hatred, not only of the preceding administration, but of more than half of our fellow citizens, of our country, of our allies, of the world community, and of the planet itself. Despite his Bannon-penned assertion that “As President, I can put no other consideration before the wellbeing of American citizens,” there was on Donald Trump’s selfish mind no single thought of what would, in the end, be best for all.
The statistics Trump threw out in defense of his decision were cherry-picked, chaotically massaged, and typically, willfully, misinterpreted. They were spurious at best, with no thicker foundation than a wet Kleenex upon which he attempted to place the authority of his office, saying, “It is time to put Youngstown, Ohio, Detroit, Michigan, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ― along with many, many other locations within our great country ― before Paris, France.”
Youngstown mayor John McNally shot back, “The U.S. withdrawal away from the agreement is not going to create more jobs in the Youngstown area, not going to create jobs in Mahoning County.” Bill Peduto, the mayor of Pittsburg, retorted, “What you did was not only bad for the economy of this country, but also weakened America in this world.” Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris, quickly joined in, saying, “That is why President Trump is committing a mistake with dramatic and fatal consequences.”
It is heartening to see the outpouring messages of climate solidarity pouring like a freshening stream from cities and states, corporations and entrepreneurs, and other nations who know full well that only if America is fully-engaged in the global climate debate will all Americans—not just those who support Mr. Trump—benefit in the long run. Thank you, President Macron, for your words of familial and historical support: “France believes in you; the world believes in you.”
It is to his credit that Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, made good on his word to step down from the President’s economic advisory council, tweeting, “Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.” Bob Iger, Disney CEO, also withdrew from the panel, saying, “Protecting our planet and driving economic growth are critical to our future, and they aren’t mutually exclusive.” Both men’s statements reflected the worries of an expanding list of American-based multinational corporations which expended an extraordinary amount of advertising dollars in full-page ads urging the President to back away from the abyss of his own making, an abyss from which coal might be extracted, but not much else.
But, selfish man that he is, unimaginative man that he is, intellectually vacuous man that he is, duplicitous man that he is, arrogant man that he is, shallow man that he is, and dangerous man that he is, Mr. Trump refuses to believe that beyond the horizon of his ignorance is a specter of calamity already taking bites out of the planet as we know it.
Trump does not want to hear anyone tell him that the cancer of pollution is metastasizing rapidly far beyond our geographic and economic borders. He does not want to be told that it is too late to excise just the American portion of the diseased tissue with a scalpel fashioned of coal. By withdrawing from the Paris Accord, Trump abdicated any chance for the United States to help shape Earth’s health profile as a respected, generous, and compassionate partner in the international effort to diagnose the symptoms of climate change, to share the data with the world’s best and brightest minds, and to join in a globally-agreed-upon treatment that may give generations to come a more hopeful prognosis.
In his climate abdication message, President Trump made clear his love of self over love of country and globe, and let it be known, in no uncertain terms, that what is best for him and his base is more important than what is best for us all.
No matter how hard Trump tries to break us, I will say, “It will take a long time for my heart to mend, longer still for the memory of June 1 to end, and though my tears may never dry, my love for Earth will never die.”
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*©Don Williams, “Some Broken Hearts.”