The Ship of State—especially that of the United States—may have begun as a lithe and limber craft back in the day, but it is now more of a battle group with attendant oil tankers, nuclear submarines, and a long affixed line of garbage barges. You don’t turn that one easily, even when you are Rooling Roost Grand Poobah Gold Epaulets Sprayed Orange Comb-over Admiral President Donald J Trump. Attempting to veer sharply or reverse course could set off a string of mishaps, with the Ship of State aground or sinking and scuttled.
Here we go!
My father was the navy man, not I, but he helped me understand the idea of dead reckoning, that is, tasting the air, looking at the horizon and the sky, remembering the map, thinking about time gone and direction traveled, imaging the destination, and intuitively, experientially, setting a course forward, a strategic line of sight toward the port, the beach, or the portage trailhead (he took me paddling through the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness frequently, a massively confusing welter of boreal forest-ringed glaciated lakes stretching across the Minnesota-Canadian border).
Our Ship of State is about to be handed to a man who will give an entirely different, darker, more deadly meaning to dead reckoning—a reckoning from Mother Earth, a reckoning from Cosmic Justice, a reckoning that may well include nuclear apocalypse, climate Armageddon, and financial plunge to the bottom. Mr Trump, capsize is more than fitting you for the gold-braided admiral hat.
Sometimes a different sort of fleet is needed, one that is clean and collective, more like a million sailboats and a hundred million kayaks, using the hive mentality to achieve a dead reckoning yielding a sustainable, equitable, just and inclusive voyage toward safe harbors for all, not luxury liners for the few served by armed battleships. Dr. Erica Chenoweth and others help us envision that, a vision of people power and clean power, not polluting power predicated on armed robbery of resources.
My old paddling buddy Davy was on a short 19-mile Lake Superior crossing from Grand Portage to Isle Royale, kayaking with his uncle. They were hit by a white squall, a sudden blast of very high wind and tall, rough waves. With just a minute or two notice, they rafted up, slapping together a human arm/kayak paddle strongback across the decks of their boats. They held on for dear life, were tossed like a mouse by a big cat, and rode it out right-side-up.
We the people were hit by a different sort of white squall with this election, wouldn’t you agree? While Trump did about the same with white voters as did Romney in 2012, the rest of us failed to raft up and that white squall tipped us over. We are scattered and broken-hearted.
This is when we dig deep for our connections to each other and begin rescue operations with a better strategy going forward. If some Muslim sailboats keeled over, we need to rally around them and use our creative selves to set them right. If Native activists are being brutalized to make way for polluting pipelines, we need to raft up with them and prevent that. If immigrants from Mexico are forced into hiding, our homes and churches should be sanctuary islands.
When we think, love, and act together, our mass wisdom can exercise a dead reckoning that will set us on a course that will work for all. That is the wisdom and commitment we need now and into the coming period. We can do this.