“If you agree with me I may yet be wrong. But if the elm tree says the same thing, I know I am right.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
I chose not to watch the first debate of this election cycle between the first ever-female presidential candidate and the archetypal Male Chauvanist Pig we railed against in the 70’s.
Instead, I commit to speak up on behalf of rooftop solar energy at the public hearing to be held by my state’s regulatory commission that is scheduled for the same time.
Meanwhile, this campaign season has reactivated all my old feminist angst and sent me back into my own book of writing exercises for women, Finding the Voice Inside. Now I am being challenged to not only trust that voice within me, but to risk putting it out there into the public arena.
For clean, renewable energy has become a political issue, with Nevada Energy pitting us rooftop solar prosumers against our non-solar neighbors, claiming that we’re causing their energy bills to increase. Apparently, net metering rooftop solar into the grid decreases the revenue needed for long-term fossil fuel infrastructure projects. BINGO!
The point is to transition away from any use of climate changing fossil fuel consumption ASAP if the planet is to remain at all habitable for our species and way too many others.
So I shall try to explain that my going solar was never about saving money; it was and is about morality. I could no longer bear knowing that every time I turned on my lights I was poisoning my Paiute neighbors downwind from the coal ash generated by the power plant at the edge of their reservation.
Shifting the plant over to natural gas evokes images of my family and friends in Colorado fighting the ravages of the hydraulic fracturing in their neighborhoods and across the state.
Putting human values in competition with corporate profit feels utterly hopeless in a culture where consumerism is next to godliness, and the poster child for run-amok capitalism is running for president at the top of the ticket of a political party that denies climate change is real and blocks all efforts to deal with its reality. Why bother to put myself out there?!
As if in silent answer, I suddenly remember Emerson’s elm tree, whose wisdom he trusted more than his own knowing and that of others. So I reach down deep inside, deeper than my own voice, and find my beloved columbine.
This delicate wildflower, named for bird of peace (Columba is Latin for dove), has been my spiritual guide for a quarter of a century, beginning with one I sketched for the first cover of the women’s writing book, before I’d seen a real one.
Nowadays, I get to hike into the high country of Colorado each summer to my favorite field of blue-purple columbine that are already fading and thinning due to global warming.
Now this columbine connection becomes commitment, and of course I will find, trust and use my voice on its behalf.
Thus I defy the anxiety that has been building in my being all day, and drive away from the T.V. framed debate arena towards one of my own. It is the only way I know to send positive energy to the woman candidate facing off against the sexism and misogyny that is deadly not just to us human mothers, but to our Earth Mother as well. Blessed be.