Intentionally Unreasonable: Dark times, doughnuts and the struggle for hope

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On Nov. 8, sunrise in southern Maine occurred at 6:27 a.m., sunset at 4:21 p.m., with total daylight of 9 hours 54 minutes. Since then, we’ve lost 29 minutes of daylight.

More importantly and of greater concern than daylight, our collective emotional psyche has grown much darker.

Regardless of where any of us fall on the spectrum of right, left, liberal, conservative, donkey, elephant, Fox viewer, MSNBC loyalist, blue, red, or any other symbols relating to political orientation, the recent election has damaged all of us.

For two weeks, millions of words have been written or spoken pertaining to our new political reality, with “blame,” “fault” and “failure” used most often. (Note: I have no idea if the last sentence is technically true, but we are now in an era of unchecked hyperbole, where facts and details are not required to hold any relationship to truth and honesty.)

I hated writing that last sentence.

Truth be told, I’m not thrilled with writing this week’s column at all. I’m so fatigued from writing about the twin clouds of darkness, Paul LePage and Donald Trump, that on Jan. 20 will fully engulf Maine and our future.

My original intent was to produce a light-hearted piece about Thanksgiving, with an optimistic focus on all the things for which we should be thankful. A worthwhile message for sure, but the happy words wouldn’t come.

Then I thought about doing a column on one of my favorite (though less healthy) subjects: doughnuts. I was prepared to create an Olympics-style competition between the giants here in Maine – Dunkin’ Donuts and Tim Horton’s – versus the pesky little guys – Frosty’s, Tony’s and The Holy Donut – with Krispy Kreme, the interloper, soon to enter the fray.

Such a fun column, right?

But the darkness was too dark for the lightness of doughnuts to overcome. (Spoiler alert: Frosty’s would have crushed the competition.)

So now, as I re-re-re-shift the focus of this column, I should say that since this is Thanksgiving week, the official kick-off to the holiday season, you may want to stop reading any further – for the same reason I’d prefer not to write about the darkness.

You’ve already consumed 400-plus words of Unreasonable goodness. So, just click away if you’re online or turn the page if you’re reading the print version. This is a community newspaper that features calendar listings for baked bean suppers, Bingo events and hayrides; why mix civic angst and despair with square dancing?

OK, you were warned.

So as I sit here at my computer writing, deleting, writing, deleting, I’m left with time, space and words to fill. And, I keep coming back to the two big (Republican) elephants in the room, our governor and president-elect.

What LePage, Trump and their disciples don’t understand is the degree to which they’re hurting us as individuals, as a state, and now, as a country. Their scorched-earth dedication to stoking the fires of fear, hate, and purposeful ignorance overshadows any and all positive change that may be buried underneath.

I agree with LePage and Trump on several positions relating to fiscal policy, election reform and the thematic need for stronger governance in the service of desperately needed tough decisions and hard choices.

Here in Maine we have approximately 108 local municipalities that are insolvent, and due to economic realities that can’t be ignored, these communities might never return to fiscal health, not to mention adequate levels of social services (education, health care, etc.) But no one in government is willing to be honest about this hard truth and act accordingly. Instead, we ignore the root problems in favor of weak legislative policy.

We continually and disproportionately fund these communities to the point that their residents are essentially trapped within a spin-cycle of poverty, while at the same time creating a statewide tax policy that is dysfunctional.

Nationally, we have lost our way regarding how we calibrate basic fairness in virtually every dimension (i.e. pay inequality, race, gender, religion, etc.) In short, over a period of decades, people in power have constructed systems that favored themselves to a greater degree than our society at large. That’s human nature.

The failing mechanism was that our government – also controlled by “people in power” – did not do enough to enact and enforce laws and policies in the interest of society itself, instead favoring their class of powered brethren.

Hence, the pitchforks of today.

Relative to the daylight here in Maine, it will only get worse until Dec. 21 and the winter solstice, when sunset will be at 4:06 p.m. and we’ll only have 8 hours 55 minutes of sunlight.

My greatest concern is the darkness caused by LePage and Trump. For that, we must band together to find and share some light going forward. Not based upon fiery political partisanship from any camp, but from our better angels.

Happy Thanksgiving to all. I’m off to Frosty’s for a doughnut. We must find joy wherever we can.

Steve Woods is from away, but fully here now, living in Yarmouth, working in Falmouth, traveling the world, and trying his best. His column appears every other week. He can also be heard Saturdays at 11 a.m. on WLOB 1310 AM and 100.5 FM.