A good many writers prefer to keep “politics” well away from their art.  I am not one of those, in part because I suspect that such distancing, for all but the shallowest of work, is impossible.  As Pete Seeger puts it, as soon as you gather two people together and start a conversation, you are affecting the body politic––you are having an impact on civic discourse and public opinion.  The topic might start with “Who will win the big game?” but it won’t stay there; talk will quickly move to what constitutes a legal hit in football, and how should the NFL compensate permanently injured players (if at all)?  Or, one might begin with a declaration of love for Middle Eastern cuisine, and moments later delve, however accidentally, into the limits of nationalism and the long-term fate of Israel, Palestine, and the Middle East at large.

Another starting point for lively conversations: books.  Plays, too.

You see where I’m headed, of course.  Stage plays and fiction begin most often as entertainment, a diversion, but in good work, that’s only the opening gambit.  Viable writing––work worth reading more than once, and for years beyond the day it got printed––always has a socially conscious heart.

Possibly you are already familiar with at least a smattering of my written work.  Perhaps you realized that the ghost story you were reading or the play you just acted in had more on its mind than thrills, chills, and yucks.  You became curious.  You thought, “Now that was surprising.  The story started off here.  But it took me over there.

So.  I’m using this page to go where so many writers are (and not without good reason) afeared to go: into the realm of blatant, bald opinion.

This will be an ongoing project, subject to revision.  (I trust that nothing I believe is so carved in mental granite that it cannot, in the face of new information, be open to change.)  Therefore, I proceed with both humility and trepidation.

But excitement, too.

Let’s see where the day takes us.

For starters, the gravest trouble facing the world today is not global warming but overpopulation.  It’s not that the globe can’t support or sustain our current numbers, it’s that it can only do so at the expense of virtually every other vertebrate species, and at our own long term peril.  The essential, most undeniable fact of our existence is limitation, first in the realm of mortality, and second in the politically dicey realm of scarcity.  Resources are limited, period.  The earth only has just so much to offer––and worse, it offers up what resources it has in highly variable amounts.  Nobody mines bauxite in Indiana, or coal in Maine; the precious metals required for iPhones and such are available in the Congo (for now) but not in the Philippines.  And so on.

In a democratic, nominally free, society, talk of China’s attempts to curb population growth invariably comes saddled with the adjective “draconian,” and of course it’s easy to see why.  Like any other species, we face a biological imperative to reproduce.  But then, so does the cancer cell, and it does so even when success means the death of its host––and, shortly after, of itself.  Is our species highest aspiration really to go on multiplying until there’s nothing left but ourselves?  I should hope not, but at present, that’s the course we’re on, and it needs to be discussed, not tucked into a dark corner labeled “Problems for the Future.”  I encounter our future every day in the eyes of my two children, and I am not at all convinced I like the future which they will shortly inherit.

Global warming.  The science is clear; it has been for decades.  I got my first lecture on the chemistry of the atmosphere, and how certain molecules combine to trap reflected heat, in nineteen eighty-six.  It wasn’t a difficult model to comprehend, and the only reason for it to be controversial is that any admission of its veracity requires us to change how we, as a causal species, live our lives.  What modern conveniences must we give up (or improve upon radically) in order to thwart the disaster we now court?  Driving less, that’s one.  Flying less, that’s two (and better).  Switching over to very expensive LED’s in every household fixture?  Well...I’m working on it.

Immigration rears its head with increasing frequency as the one political football on which “both sides” can agree.  What “both sides” ought to be talking about is how to level the playing field internationally such that not every reasonably ambitious person deserts his or her own nation in order to come here, to the U.S.  First, because that’s unsustainable for the U.S. itself, and second, because it’s ruinous for those nations sending their best and brightest our way.  A constant stream of immigrants in a world without significant new frontiers ought to be taken as a sign of a world out of balance, especially in the twin realms of economics and opportunity, but no.  It’s taken as a local, discrete issue: “We need higher fences and clearer internal policies.”  Sure.  Maybe.  But that’s a Band-aid, and the actual wounds––the causes of immigration––remain unexamined.  For this travesty of short-sightedness, “both sides” get an F minus on their report card.

Regarding the Second Amendment and “originalists,” an awkward moniker to be sure, I fail to comprehend the value of living under the yoke of a totally static founding document.  Situations change, and so, too, technology; change, after all, is the single great constant of the universe.  Or is it?  The electron constant remains, so far as I know, constant, and when it comes to how the government and the courts interpret the Constitution of the United States, change is unholy, anathema. 

No, I am not in favor of large-scale anarchy and interpretive chaos; a certain amount of bedrock (what the courts call “legal precedent”) is essential.  But there is a middle ground, and We, the People must strive to rediscover it, or else our ongoing debates about “gun control” and “marriage equality” are doomed to nitpicking successes rather than viable achievements.

Regarding the private ownership of firearms, I’m for it, but I see no reason why it shouldn’t be at least as tightly regulated as, say, Sudafed.  As I write this, the Senate is dithering about whether to give up on re-enacting the ban on “assault rifles.”  I support a ban on any firearm or incendiary device designed more for open warfare than for private protection or hunting.  Limiting magazines also makes sense if we expect to make progress toward and not away from a just and civil society.  Certainly, the nation needs to examine its attitudes and policies toward mental health, but we must assume that humanity is imperfect––that mental illness, or “crazy people,” or our species’ flair for making horrendous decisions (pick your terms and pick your poison)––is not going to evaporate any time soon.  Our best option, then, as a society, is to limit the opportunities for carnage.  Crimes in general are crimes of opportunity; reduce or remove the opportunity and the vast majority of crimes, lethal and otherwise, are thwarted.  This is why I also support something no politician is talking about, better methods of gun storage, at least for those weapons that go beyond a bedside handgun.  Locks with timers, locks that require two people to operate, etc.  Methods such as these could save a great many lives while causing only minimal inconvenience.