I understand when Americans now say they want to move to New Zealand. I just got back from a month there, and I can’t think of a more beautiful, pristine, unspoiled by human greed place in the world. The people are warm, interesting, and have a sense of humor. There is enough eco-consciousness that native species of plants and wildlife are receiving protection and cautiously returning. In many ways, it seems like Paradise.
There are a couple of ‘buts’ in this picture I just painted. New Zealand’s environmental policy isn’t as enlightened as one would be led to believe. But the country is so sparsely populated that humans haven’t been able to make the huge dent in the ecological balance that the US, Europe, or China have. This, however, also means that the damage done on the scale of the country isn’t irreparable. The damage all of us have done on a world-scale is increasingly irreparable, unfortunately, and this will eventually reach this paradise in the antipodes.
Yes, I understand when Americans say they want to move to a more sane part of the world. That’s exactly what I did in 1970 as a 21-year-old. The situation in the US was nasty then and even more nasty now. In the first week or two of the new administration, we’ve been bombarded with so many lies and atrocities that everything inside me screams ‘Fascism! Totalitarianism!” These are very dangerous times, and the damage that can be done to the entire world is far worse than in the 1930’s.
The first instinct is to leave, to escape the atrocities and lies, not to have anything to do with this. “This is not my President. This is not my country.”
But if I were to do it again, with the wisdom I have earned now, I would stay and fight. I’m proud of the millions of women who marched the day after the inauguration. I’m proud of Homeland Security and the attorney-general who stood up to the President, even though it got her fired. I’m proud of all the rising grass-roots movements dedicated to the truth and the values that once made America great: equality, justice and freedom for all, no matter their race or religion.
My new homeland, Europe, is not thriving. The same shadow threatens to fall on us. And it requires a special dedication to the truth, even the uncomfortable truth of how we all – Europeans and Americans – have brought this upon us, to keep us strong enough to resist.
But resist we must. I often feel the temptation to flee to New Zealand. But this time, I think I will stay and fight.