The Edge of the Wood

by John Messeder, Nemophilist & Ecological Storyteller

Times they are a-changin’

President Trump has been busy the past two weeks. He made some promises during the campaign, and he is trying to keep them. Or look as though he is trying to keep them. If unemployment rises, he will get the blame, so his claiming credit for job creation seems somehow fair, though he has little really to do with it, either way.

But his edict about banning immigrants from predominately Muslim countries has prompted me to consider my own genesis and belief on the subject.

My mother, hardly a planetary traveler herself, encouraged me to go out and see the world, first in books and then in person. In 1965, at the tender age of 17, and at the height of the civil rights movement and widespread objection to the Vietnam War, I graduated from high school and joined the U.S. Navy. About 12 years into what became a 20-year career, I was assigned to the USS America, an aircraft carrier with a population greater than that of Gettysburg, PA – a population, by the way, devoid of women, children or dogs. A ship offers lots of time for staring at oceans.

Although off-ship time was precious, I found opportunity to meet the natives, and learn to converse in Spanish and Italian. And to think of the men it would be my job to kill if were I ordered to do so.

That latter part began to bother me, especially when one evening in Brindisi, Italy  – a seaport tucked in behind Italy’s heel – I discovered the barmaids knew when we would be leaving and when we were scheduled to return. It seems there are a limited number of ports large enough and deep enough to accommodate large warships, and it wouldn’t do for U.S. and the Russian warriors with whom we shared the Med to be in port at the same. What if we discovered, while quaffing some cool ones in the company of friendly natives, we sailors of both sides decided we didn’t want to shoot at each other.

Eventually, I came to the realization that people everywhere pretty much long for the same thing: a day of work, then something to quench our thirst beside someone warm and friendly.

We have built this nation on the backs of immigrants. Now we’re told we have to close the gate “because of San Bernardino and Orlando.” Yet the guy who shot up the Orlando night club was born in New York to Afghani immigrant parents, and the guy who killed Christmas partiers in San Bernardino also was a young U.S. citizen, and son of Pakistani parents. Neither Afghanistan nor Pakistan are on the list of banned people exporters. In a world that has no real borders, closing ours is only a show of strength mounted by the minions of our Distracter-in-Chief.

The truth is market forces are shutting down our coal industry. A young woman in the Philippines helped get my Internet working. Our grandkids are poised to make solar power the next universal power supply; Saudi Arabian scientists already are working on ways to transport solar power from the Arabian kingdom to Europe. And a South African gazillionaire is building a stage coach company to carry freight and tourists to Mars and Pluto.

Natural gas has never been more than a bandaid to tide us over. It’s cheap, plentiful, and cleaner than coal (though not really clean) and way less hazardous than nuclear, but it won’t be long until it is no longer needed.

Take that, Mssrs. Putin and Trump. Make your unkeepable promises. The kids are coming, and they will not be stopped.


  1. Good essay. Leave me feeling hopeful, which, these days, is quite a feat!

    • Thanks. I do think our offspring will figure it out. I’m just bummed that we’re leaving it to them.

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