What Can We Do about the Mess We’re In?

Under cover of night, hundreds of migrant children were moved to tent encampments surrounded by high metal fences in the Texas desert. How is it OK to jail children and separate them from their parents? Can you imagine their fear? The practice continues despite our protests.

What am I going to do about it? What can I do?

Another untrustworthy man who doesn’t respect women or their rights was given a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.

What am I going to do about it? Is there anything I can do?

US Customs & Border Patrol, McAllen, TX (public domain)

While we’re distracted and terrified, our ignoble House of Representatives passed another big tax cut for the wealthy leaving fewer resources for Medicaid and Medicare support for the impoverished, young, and aging.

What, oh what, am I going to do about it? What can I do? I hardly recognize my country anymore.

Plastic garbage washed up on Hawaiian Beach

Dead whales wash up on beaches filled with indigestible human plastic. Smaller creatures choke with plastic rings on their necks. Dolphins are trapped in fishing nets.

I don’t know what to do about it. Do you?

I stopped using plastic straws. Do my 10 straws a year matter? I asked my grocery store to replace plastic straws with paper. I stopped using plastic grocery bags years ago. I try to buy produce without shrink-wrap, not an easy find even in the organic section. I take my virtuous bag of recyclable plastic to the grocery recycling bin. Such a small thing when the world floods and burns and no one in power seems to care. I do it because I don’t know what else to do.

It’s hard to cling to hope when I read the news or follow world climate catastrophe. We’re running out of time. What about our kids and grandkids? It’s hard to avoid despair. It’s hard not to hate the ones who don’t care and this is the biggest problem of all. The hate.

If we hate each other, we can’t cooperate. With hate, there are no solutions. We can’t agree on how to save ourselves.

I cringe over presidential emergency alerts and constant White House chaos designed to keep me in a state of fear, but my hearing aid depends on my cell phone technology. Like others, I’m locked into this interdependent world. There’s nowhere to hide. What can I do about it?

When I need a rest, it helps to widen or narrow my view.

This summer, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars arced their way across the southern sky, closer together than usual. The moon grew fuller and brighter as it moved east, dancing with each shining planet along the way. First Venus, then Jupiter, then Saturn and Mars. From that planetary world, earthly catastrophe doesn’t matter more than a massive dust storm on Mars.

Sweeping away from the Sun to the galaxy to Suns swallowing other Suns, our human power games lose their significance. From there, our blue Earth floats through space. From there, our struggles don’t matter much.


Or I can narrow my view and focus on fall flowers fading in the fields. Taste the last fall raspberries, fat and juicy and sweet-tart on my tongue. I pick the upper branches while my dog nibbles the lower ones with gentle lips. We share while bees load their pollen sacs.

I watch the last tomatoes ripen and harvest enough zucchini for another soup. I think of the Monarchs I raised this summer sailing the winds to Mexico. Helping and protecting them was something I could do.

But what else? Am I big enough to forgive even the small injustices of life? To not get mad when a truck tailgates me late at night. To not resent the wealthy who refuse to share? Must I hold tight to every ungenerous reactions? Can’t I broaden or narrow my view and find another place to stand?

cards designed and donated by local artists

So much is beyond my control or anyone’s control. So much is up to the Earth to deal with the damage we’ve done. Will She decide humans are expendable or merely put us in our place? So much is up to people who believe the media propaganda they’re fed, just as Germans were convinced any injustice served some imagined good. So much depends on urging, begging, hoping people will vote.

There are signs of change, signs we’ve had enough. Even Fox News finds their customers are bored with repetitive ranting “Make American Great Again” rallies. Eventually, there will be a shift, but what can I do until then except send out more postcards urging people to vote and making donations?

No matter what, I can keep loving this screwed up world, resist despair, and do my best to keep my own small corner clear of plastic and hate. And I can vote.


I wrote a joyful post about butterfly dreams for this week, but changed my mind. I had to take a pre-election stand. It’s no time to hide under the covers which is what I’d rather do. Instead, I need to face the rage and prejudice that pervades my country. We lurch from crisis to crisis–environmental, educational and spiritual. What can we do to help?

For another piece about political action, see Have They Forgotten They Are Mortal? Lessons from Hecate. To remember the power of combining the sacred and environment, read The Copper Vessel: Prayer Walk for Seneca Lake. My community worked hard to prevent pollution of our beautiful lake and water supply. After many years and many protests, we won.

  1. Dear Elaine, What JOY it is to read such an honest, straightforward article! To cast your beautiful butterfly dreams for a moment to one side and in their place write of the uncomfortable yet necessary truths of your country and world we live in. As always I enjoyed the images you’ve included, especially the first one with the dog saying, “I can’t (vote), but you can!”

    The news of children being forcibly separated from their parents’ distresses me greatly, knowing that this will produce deep and long-lasting attachment trauma for countless families’ outrages me … which in turn is going to cause even greater sorrow for the world at large in such a multitude of different ways, including crime and addiction. When will we ever learn I want to scream!

    Mother Earth’s systematic abuse terrifies many of Her peaceful, nature loving souls and although I do not follow politics (in the UK or abroad) I know enough to know that America, like many other countries are in political turmoil. Whether its plastic or whales being washed up, or crops failing, certain birds and animals on the brink of extinction due to human error, I am heartbroken.

    What to do? Me, I turn to the poets, to mythology, to nature and to other writers and artists who like me are interested in exploring these archetypal complexes and I feel by doing so I am somehow held by the mysteries. I can’t explain it any other way, I only know that these things sustain me from the inside. I am a drop in the ocean of love, there are millions of us here who feel the same way as I do.

    Your words engage and ignite! But instead of literally taking up arms, paper and pen will always be my choice and method of warfare, in peacetime too. Recently, the archetype of the Hermaphrodite has caught my attention so a deeper look into this is presently captivating me. I imagine not only gender, but war and peace and many other opposites reside within this Supreme Being, lots to explore I feel. Love and light, Deborah.

    • Deborah, I needed to write this. I didn’t want to, but felt I had to step up to save our Earth and anything left of democracy in any small way. I was a government major in college and active in the anti-war movement then. That was a big part of my early relationship with Vic. I also turn to nature, mythology, and poetry for inner support, but outside my sheltered life, my country is a mess and the voting statistics are alarming. Many local groups, mostly women, are putting an impressive amount of energy into getting out the vote. They inspire me. Writing is one small way for me to contribute–along with mailing postcards. So, paper and pen and keyboard are my tools, too.

      I’m studying Kali with my mythology class. In Hinduism, as you know, this age is called the Kaliyuga. It’s a time of transformation and change–and that involves destroying the old order while birthing a new. May the destruction be gentle. May the new birth bring calm and kindness. Love back to you across the sea.

  2. I loved this post. You take such a balanced approach to both doing what you can to improve the world while also refusing to be disheartened by the things you don’t have the ability to fix.

    • Thank you, Lydia. I’m trying to hold some balance in an unbalanced world–and there are so many other things I’d rather write about. But this is now and this is our time to make a collective change. We have to join together everywhere to focus on saving the planet rather than selling more weapons or jails, but it’s hard to convince those who profit from the way things are. May there be peace on our precious planet.

  3. Thanks Elaine – you voice the despair many of us feel and also feel somewhat powerless to bring about change. But these individual acts of not using plastic, picking up trash, being care-ful of our environment, helping when and where we can, feeling the pain of whatever and whoever is abused, using our voices and much else, add up significantly. Incremental changes – from the microscopic to the macroscopic.

    I rather think that the old and ancient is about to be birthed into the new ie that the new is giving birth to the old as in more of an awareness of myth and legend, ancestors and the ancient truths – and the new as we know it currently WILL be overthrown.

    We’re in a mess here in SA yet there is so much good that goes unannounced. It all helps. While I am by nature inclined to be pessimistic (at least in this phase of my life) I know that what we are going through is a necessary and painful process…

    • So much to agree with and hope for in your comment, Susan. I also have faith in the long run, but lots of damage is happening meanwhile and it’s hard to know how long that long run is and how much the Earth can hold. I know we’ve been naive in this country and you’re sadly used to this in South Africa. A necessary painful process as birth tends to be. May we survive to tell the story. There are spiritual and psychological opportunities for me in living in difficult times since it helps me adjust to the fact that all is temporary–including me.

  4. This post really resonated with me… I also feel that so much is beyond our control. Political and economic power is intertwined… probably more than ever. Segregation and poverty are undeniably the biggest problems, on a global scale. A few become richer at expenses of others. …
    CEOs have replaced politicians. Or those who are presumably politicians behave like businessmen… everything on behalf of financial purposes…
    We can maybe do something to change our immediate surroundings… but it is difficult to go further.
    We can raise our voices of disagreement, of course. Voting is one of the best ways to do so…
    Excellent insights, dear Elaine. Sending love and best wishes ⭐️

    • I’m glad, Aquileana. I know your country has gone through excruciating political times. Problems that once seemed limited to some countries have become global problems and the powerful and wealthy keep grab for more. The man running our country often seems more like a mobster than a businessman. I do what I can locally along with others. There have been some wonderful and surprisingly positive results. I’ll vote and be grateful that in my state we have paper ballots which are kept after being scanned into a computer. That means stealing the vote is less likely here, but that’s not true in all states. So we will pray and wait. Sending back love and gratitude for the wisdom you share.

  5. America in crisis indeed. I’m on the other side of the border shaking in my boots. But I am keeping faith in humanity that people will rise up and vote to save democracy. Once the house turns blue, the babysitters will hold your fuhrer in check until he either runs for the hills or gets booted out.

    • I hope for voters to see what has happened to them and this country–and not be fooled by propaganda. I hope for the young ones to become informed voters. The news about the large number of young people who registered to vote and voted early is hopeful. Hope, hope, hope, and prayers.

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