Neighborhood oases in era of Trump by Marjorie Arons-Barron

Reading, especially fiction. Listening to music.  Attending theater and concerts.  Taking courses.  Working. Gardening. Connecting with friends and family. All worthy efforts to distract from the havoc that Donald Trump is wreaking upon us.  All effective, if temporary, relief from the three hard copy newspapers arriving daily and many more online, the background drone of ever-present CNN, and the iOS backlight from the electronic breaking news deliverer permanently attached to my husband’s hand.

Community is another blessed relief, with neighborhood images old and new.  Block parties held in front of our house and the pleasure of watching neighbors’ kids grow up before our eyes. Shared planting efforts in a nearby “island” where two roads merge into one, the flowers and shrubs  recently enhanced by a small birdhouse-like installation housing a book exchange. Folks pitching in to monitor homes when neighbors are away, or feed cats or take in mail. Rallying around a young widow whose husband died suddenly. The welcome diversity – white, black, young, old, Pakistani, Indian, Israeli, Russian, Christians, Jews,  other religions and no religions. This is not Donald Trump’s world.

Nor is it Puerto Rico, where community has been devastated. More than a quarter of water authority customers still lack potable water, and more than 80 percent are still not back on the electrical grid. Distribution of food and other supplies is still struggling. Kids are back in school only part-time. The crisis in the wake of Hurricane Maria is staggering and endures.

Nor can we forget the Texans who lost everything in Hurricane Harvey, now clinging to hopes the Houston Astros will defeat the Yankees for the same reasons we were all buoyed by the Red Sox after the Marathon bombing.  Or those in California who lost their homes and even their lives in out-of-control wildfires.

Which, of course brings me back to Donald Trump, whose intentional sabotaging of the Affordable Care Act and wavering on a bipartisan proposal to stabilize the health insurance industry are leading to loss of coverage and huge increases in premiums, even for those covered here by the Massachusetts Health Connector. Whose proposed tax “reform” gives 80 percent of the benefits to the top one percent of taxpayers, including himself. Who taunts the head of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un and spurs  childhood images of hiding under desks in nuclear attack drills, only now the weapons are more lethal. Whose tone deaf responses to the families of fallen soldiers, however well intentioned,  make me cringe. Whose calling some neo-Nazi protesters “very fine people” and threatening illegal challenges to broadcast licenses prefigure a rise of authoritarianism that should bring a chill to everyone’s spine.

And on and on. Still, it’s a beautiful fall day. The leaves are turning color. The sky is blue. The October sun is warm. It’s time to go out for a walk in the neighborhood and maybe get the car washed.

We celebrate what we can.