Friday, November 29, 2019

Dangerous But Necessary

Perhaps it was no mistake that cartoonist Walt Kelly set his comic strip Pogo in the Okefenokee Swamp. It seems as deliberate as any artist who would declare, "We have met the enemy, and he is us." In 1971, this was a declaration on the anniversary of the first Earth Day. Now it seems that the mirror that that little possum once turned on himself is reflecting back on us.
The current regime crows loudly about how it wants to "drain the swamp," but it only recently occurred to me that this tactic is most often employed by real estate developers. Wanting to make room for a new housing development, the tall grass would be cut down and the muddy waters siphoned off somewhere else so that new deluxe apartment building could take the place of what was once the habitat of crocodiles, muskrats, owls, and the occasional wise possum. No matter what good these creatures may have produced prior to the need for that skyscraper, they've got to be run off. Swamps protect the dry land nearby, acting as a sponge to soak up excess rainfall before it washes neighboring habitats. The animals that survive this ill-advised reclamation project end up in uncomfortable and unlikely places. Like an eleven foot long alligator that shows up in a suburban swimming pool.
Not a surprise that this kind of thing happens a lot in Florida.
But let's return for a moment to the metaphorical swamp known as Washington, D.C. Politicians in their native habitat are generally less harmful than the previously mentioned real estate developers. Yes, their actions often impact the world outside the bog where they dwell. Yes, life inside the swamp is often tempestuous and sometimes a little dangerous. So is nature. So is real estate. I don't pretend to understand the busy social interactions in those wetlands, anymore than I understand what makes someone think that their arrival on the scene will be a game changer.
Stripping away the artifice for a moment, I will suggest that we need "the swamp" and those that dwell inside it. They are part of a system that has been functional for hundreds of years. While I understand that looking at the cold eyes and many teeth of a creature that has resisted evolution for so very long can cause fear, we should also keep in mind that at distances of one hundred fifty feet an alligator can outrun a man.
Stay away from the swamp, man.

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