Trump’s Plea: Sad … Never Able to be Comparably Replaced!

Jackson Hole, Wyoming Cowboy

Sorry, I don’t have a photo of a Robert E. Lee’s statue. But I do have a photo from Jackson Hole, Wyoming of a bronco-riding cowboy statue, certainly at least as important artifact for our Western Heritage as Robert E. Lee’s statue is for the South’s Heritage. I am sure that if there was a movement to remove the Bronco Rider at Jackson Hole, Trump would have been at least as “sad” as he was on August 17, 2017, about Charlottesville’s decision to remove Lee’s statue, a historical artifact with a deep connection to our Southern States, when he tweaked:

Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments. You can’t change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson – who’s next, Washington, Jefferson?

So foolish! Also the beauty that is being taken out of our cities towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!” [Emphasis Added.]

Powerful words.

Worth thinking about - Really Worth Thinking About!

No, I’m not writing about the implications – the dangerous “hidden message” of white supremacy approval the media points out Trump is providing to his base.

No, I’m not writing about the Washington Post August 17th poll, reporting that some 60% of Americans think that the Confederate artifacts – Lee’s statue and the rest – ought to be left where they are.

I’m writing about some really powerful words …

In Trump’s tweet:

• Beautiful!
• Will be greatly missed!
• Never able to be comparably replaced!
• So foolish!
• Sad!

And, I am drawn to a 2015 Global News interview following the destruction by ISIS of Middle East artifacts, in which Archaeologist Clemens Reichel called the destructive work of ISIS “cultural genocide.”

I add to my list –
• Cultural Genocide.

Yes, I’m talking about the destruction of artifacts that:

• Are beautiful;
• Will be greatly missed;
• Will never be able to be comparably replaced; and
• Whose destruction creates more than a Cultural Genocide!

Trump’s problem is not his words. It’s his choice of artifacts. And that is not only foolish; it is sad, very sad!

The artifacts that should concern Trump, and each of us, are not a few cultural artifacts forged from steel or bronze to keep memories of Confederate statesmen and warriors and their wars and adventures from bygone ages alive. The artifacts that should concern Trump and the rest of us are those artifacts that have been crafted over eons from the elements in this corner of the Earth we call Home: the artifacts that bring a tear to our eye when the band plays America the Beautiful and we sing God Bless America.

These artifacts are more than a sanctuary for our memories. These artifacts validate what it is to be human, to be American. Yes, I know that modern dictionaries define “artifact” as an item of historical or cultural interest that has been crafted by a human being. But the word “artifact” has its more ancient, Latin roots: arte factum. “Arte” means “by skill.” “Factum” means “thing made.” The preservation of the artifacts that should concern all of us have been crafted not by humans but by our Creator, using the Forces of Nature as His toolkit.

Wonderlust is filled with stories about these irreplaceable, precious artifacts, our Cathedrals in the Wild. Wonderlust begins:

Yosemite Falls – An Artifact Worth Saving

“Before Solomon built his temple, there were Cathedrals in the Wild. Before Giovannino de Dolci created the Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo painted his masterpiece on its ceiling, there were Cathedrals in the Wild. Before the great cathedrals of Rome, Paris and London, and before the quaint Stave churches of Norway, there were Cathedrals in the Wild. John Muir’s Cathedral in the Wild was Yosemite; Thoreau’s, Walden Pond. For you, for me, there are many choices. A Cathedral in the Wild is that place among the wonders of Nature where we find ourselves by losing ourselves in the rapture of the experience.

“The Cathedral’s walls are not of lumber or brick or shrouded in stained glass or paintings, but are original works, shaped by volcanic upheavals and tectonic folds and sculptured by roaring seas, tempestuous winds and grinding glaciers. Its pulpit and chapel may be dappled in light splashing among trees or dunes or rock formations that reach toward the heavens, or maybe a flowering open field under a rooftop of billowing clouds.

“In the Cathedral’s amphitheater, the hymns are sung by the songbirds and played on the flutes of the winds and the waves. Sermons in the Cathedral are not in spoken or written words. They’re experiential; for the revelations of the sermons are about our beginnings, our kinship with other life on Planet Earth, and our place in creation — sermons these Cathedrals began providing our ancestors eons before there were spoken or written languages.

“The Cathedral’s sermons are for our hearts, teachings for the artist within, the architect of our character and values. Taking part in such a sermon is deeply emotional, a whole-body experience.”

There’s been a lot written over the decades about the irreversible destruction of our Cathedrals in the Wild, our Creator’s artifacts, and the ultimate adverse effect of such destruction on all of life, including humans.

I too have written in my blogs and in Wonderlust about the rapid extinctions of habitats and their species, the relentless diminution of the Earth’s finite resources, ocean acidification, exhaustion of soil and fresh water sources, pollution and illnesses and death, the result of growing abuse and careless destruction of these artifacts. I won’t repeat those concerns.

But I do wonder:

Withlacoochee Preserve – An Artifact Worth Saving

Why are Trump and his supporters so critical about trashing a few Confederate artifacts when he and his administration are so fond of trashing – polluting – our Creator’s artifacts, our Cathedrals in the Wild?

Could it be that environmental pollution is sourced in mind pollution? Shaped by a culture that champions consuming America the Beautiful rather than conserving America the Beautiful?

There’s a 2015 public study with a stuffy title, The Measurement of Subjective Value and its Relation to Contingent Valuation and Public Goods, with results that perked my interest. The study – a brain study – reported that over the years, neurobiologists have discovered correlations between blood-oxygen levels measured on MRI brain scans and the values people place on goods. Their conclusion? We value snack foods higher than we value “environmental public goods!” What are “environmental public goods?” The study defines:

“Environmental public goods — including national parks, clean air/water, and ecosystem services—provide substantial benefits on a global scale. These goods have unique characteristics in that they are typically “non-market” goods, with values from both use and passive use that accrue to a large number of individuals both in current and future generations.”

Environmental public goods: another name for a precious few of our Creator’s artifacts — the artifacts that, today, are the targets of Trump’s Political Weapons of Mass Destruction: thoughtless executive orders, rule making, and legislation that champion dumping waste and pollution into America the Beautiful’s clean waters and the air we breathe, drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic, fracking in the Everglades and in National Parks, privatizing national monuments, subsidizing fossil fuel and blocking the development and use of renewable energy, preempting local communities from caring for America the Beautiful, the America God Blessed.

Coral Reefs – An Artifact Worth Saving

Could it be that the outrage expressed by Trump and others regarding the destruction of Lee’s statue, and the lack of outrage about the destruction of our environmental public goods — our Creator’s artifacts — has to do with the way cultural values have warped brains?

With our valuing snack food higher than environmental public goods?

With our becoming a Democracy of Dollars, selling our environmental public goods to the highest bidder?

With our being concerned about the destruction of human-made artifacts while we exploit our Creator’s artifacts, which are also not only irreplaceable, but are also necessary for our survival?

Wonderlust’s final chapter includes the following from philosopher Thomas Berry:

“It is not only food for our bodies that comes from Earth, but our very power of thinking and the great images in our imagination. … Even our knowledge of God comes to us from our acquaintance with Earth, for the divine reveals itself first of all in the sky and in the waters and in the wind, in the mountains and valleys, in the birds of the air and in all those living forms that flower and move over the surface of the planet. … Unless we are totally depraved, we will seek to give our children not only life and education but a planet with pure air and bright waters and fruitful fields, a planet that can be lived on with grace and beauty and at least a touch of human and earthly tenderness.”

Let us hope we are not “totally depraved.”

Artifacts that …

Are Beautiful;
Will be greatly missed;
Will never be able to be comparably replaced;
Are so necessary for our culture and life itself.

Let’s take care of our Creator’s artifacts that bring a tear to our eye when the band plays America the Beautiful and when we sing God Bless America.

For 2 Minutes of Thoughtful Reverence:

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Barbara
2 years ago

America the Beautiful was amazing! Made me smile and yet knowing what’s happening to our environment made me cry. Thanks for sharing!

2 years ago

Once again, nailed it.
Lance

2 years ago

Dick, thank you for this. My sentiments precisely!
Best,
Wendy

2 years ago

Some of your best writing.

2 years ago

Hi! Just want you to know I appreciate all you do with your camera and your mind! Gives me hope something can be done! Love you both! Caroline

2 years ago

Stirring. Gorgeous pictures.

mack

Bob
2 years ago

Richard, not to heap to much praise on you, but I only wish I could master the English language to your level.

This is a strong piece, one that everyone should read. A wonderful video.

Richard Conard
2 years ago

Beautifully expressed and exemplified. It’s time we become more sensitive to the words of our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. They are documents by our forefathers which have made America the 5000 year experiment as to what happens when Man is set free thru God to enjoy freedoms and liberties never seen before in a society