FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Line of Fire

by RANDALL AMSTER

Living in Arizona for nearly two decades, and for more than half of that time in the central highlands region around Prescott, has presented innumerable challenges and opportunities alike. Many will be familiar with Arizona’s haywire politics and the international controversies that have ensued. Those of us working on progressive causes here often find solace in the fact that — though the victories may be few — this is where the work needs to be done. I’m thankful to have been part of this ethos of engagement over the years, even as I’m preparing to head eastward and embrace new possibilities.

One thing that’s hard to convey to folks outside this area is the sense of shared struggle that is often masked by the ostensible divisiveness in our midst. Desert living can be harsh, and living systems survive best when their mutual interdependence is made paramount. With all of the tragedies that have befallen the state in recent years — from the Tucson shootings to the most recent loss of 19 elite firefighters — this nascent spirit of solidarity has been at play, even if at times almost imperceptibly so.

The worst travails of violence, wildfires, extreme heat, and severe drought can be found here, yet in many such moments there is a concomitant experience of being part of a larger whole. As is the case in myriad disaster situations, people more frequently discover forms of cooperation and commonality rather than exacerbating their tendencies toward competition and conflict. We need not overstate this — indeed, major differences of politics and practice will likely persist — but it’s important to recognize the growing realization that crises can in fact bring out our best qualities in many instances.

This resilient spirit will be put to the test more and more in the days ahead, as so-called “natural disasters” escalate in their frequency and intensity. The wildfires experienced here in central Arizona are emblematic, as no sooner was the massive Doce Fire contained (a scant few miles from my home) before the Yarnell Hill Fire flared up and claimed the lives of 19 brave souls. These dedicated people were fresh off saving our area from one inferno before being called to another — all underscored by the reality of being in a 20-year drought cycle and a calendar year that in particular has seen almost no rain.

This is the “new normal” of climate and weather extremes in this brave new world that we have wrought. Increasingly it appears that the possibility of forestalling these calamitous events is growing slimmer by the day. At the same time, our individual and collective capacities for resilience are becoming more germane, as we seek to live with an escalating array of crises and catastrophes. We shouldn’t abandon the mitigative project altogether; indeed, it turns out that many forms of adaptation also represent ways of being in the world that could countermand the roots of crisis if practiced widely. But the clock is rapidly ticking, and it’s hard to change a paradigm when we’re navigating perpetual disasters.

All of this sort of deeper rumination will have to wait for another day here in the central highlands of Arizona. It’s difficult to express the impact on this small community that will come from losing so many good people in this manner. No one here will escape the “six degrees of separation” that bind us all together. Sometimes it takes a tragedy to recognize and rekindled those bonds. And perhaps, in that, may the shared experience of confronting loss and acknowledging mutual grief serve to weave the threads of resilience tighter — for coping with the events of today, and likewise for those yet to come.

Randall Amster, J.D., Ph.D., is the Executive Director of the Peace and Justice Studies Association, and is the publisher and editor of New Clear Vision. Among his recent books are Anarchism Today (Praeger, 2012) and Lost in Space: The Criminalization, Globalization, and Urban Ecology of Homelessness (LFB Scholarly, 2008). 

 

 

More articles by:
November 20, 2017
T.J. Coles
Doomsday Scenarios: the UK’s Hair-Raising Admissions About the Prospect of Nuclear War and Accident
Peter Linebaugh
On the 800th Anniversary of the Charter of the Forest
Patrick Bond
Zimbabwe Witnessing an Elite Transition as Economic Meltdown Looms
Sheldon Richman
Assertions, Facts and CNN
Ben Debney
Plebiscites: Why Stop at One?
LV Filson
Yemen’s Collective Starvation: Where Money Can’t Buy Food, Water or Medicine
Thomas Knapp
Impeachment Theater, 2017 Edition
Binoy Kampmark
Trump in Asia
Curtis FJ Doebbler
COP23: Truth Without Consequences?
Louisa Willcox
Obesity in Bears: Vital and Beautiful
Deborah James
E-Commerce and the WTO
Ann Garrison
Burundi Defies the Imperial Criminal Court: an Interview with John Philpot
Robert Koehler
Trapped in ‘a Man’s World’
Stephen Cooper
Wiping the Stain of Capital Punishment Clean
Weekend Edition
November 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Thank an Anti-War Veteran
Andrew Levine
What’s Wrong With Bible Thumpers Nowadays?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The CIA’s House of Horrors: the Abominable Dr. Gottlieb
Wendy Wolfson – Ken Levy
Why We Need to Take Animal Cruelty Much More Seriously
Mike Whitney
Brennan and Clapper: Elder Statesmen or Serial Fabricators?
David Rosen
Of Sex Abusers and Sex Offenders
Ryan LaMothe
A Christian Nation?
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Finger on the Button: Why No President Should Have the Authority to Launch Nuclear Weapons
W. T. Whitney
A Bizarre US Pretext for Military Intrusion in South America
Deepak Tripathi
Sex, Lies and Incompetence: Britain’s Ruling Establishment in Crisis 
Howard Lisnoff
Who You’re Likely to Meet (and Not Meet) on a College Campus Today
Roy Morrison
Trump’s Excellent Asian Adventure
John W. Whitehead
Financial Tyranny
Ted Rall
How Society Makes Victimhood a No-Win Proposition
Jim Goodman
Stop Pretending the Estate Tax has Anything to do With Family Farmers
Thomas Klikauer
The Populism of Germany’s New Nazis
Murray Dobbin
Is Trudeau Ready for a Middle East war?
Jeiddy Martínez Armas
Firearm Democracy
Jill Richardson
Washington’s War on Poor Grad Students
Ralph Nader
The Rule of Power Over the Rule of Law
Justin O'Hagan
Capitalism Equals Peace?
Matthew Stevenson
Into Africa: From the Red Sea to Nairobi
Geoff Dutton
The Company We Sadly Keep
Evan Jones
The Censorship of Jacques Sapir, French Dissident
Linn Washington Jr.
Meek Moment Triggers Demands for Justice Reform
Gerry Brown
TPP, Indo Pacific, QUAD: What’s Next to Contain China’s Rise?
Robert Fisk
The Exile of Saad Hariri
Romana Rubeo - Ramzy Baroud
Anti-BDS Laws and Pro-Israeli Parliament: Zionist Hasbara is Winning in Italy
Robert J. Burrowes
Why are Police in the USA so Terrified?
Chuck Collins
Stop Talking About ‘Winners and Losers’ From Corporate Tax Cuts
Ron Jacobs
Private Property Does Not Equal Freedom
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail