Ida and Nicholas are an unusual pair. No, they are not lovers. Instead, they are vicious natural disasters, one hurricane following the other, wreaking havoc with their stormy winds and massive flooding. They caused damage from Louisiana to New York. 

I cannot ever remember a time in our history when we’ve had to face this number of challenges, both natural and man-made, simultaneously. While the storms took their human toll in southern and eastern areas, California was fighting another natural disaster, the wildest forest fires they’ve ever known. Thousands of acres of magnificent forest lands were consumed and over 50,000 homes lost. No doubt the only positive picture one could view during these disasters was seeing heroic strangers risking their lives to save others. These and other severe acts of nature, make climate change impossible to deny. Dealing with this and our polluting ways are more than just challenges, all of which need immediate attention.

The most disastrous of natural scourges we have had, and are continuing to fight, is the pandemic of COVID-19. Adding to the deadly path of this virus is that when the danger was identified by scientists and medical researchers, ex-President Trump refused to deal with the seriousness of the disease. Unfortunately, he spent months downplaying it, and discouraged the use of the vaccines. He substituted his “knowledge” and politicized the problem by spreading disinformation and recommending useless and often dangerous remedies to help those who had been infected. The spread of the virus could have been lessened if he recommended mask-wearing and social distancing, but he did not. So this relentless disease caused more suffering and deaths.

There continues to be a group of Republican leaders who discourage employing proven methods to diminish the spread. In fact, some are so extreme, they want to punish those from their states who wear masks. In my opinion, these leaders should be indicted for placing their population at risk. Although COVID-19 is a natural disaster, this human element makes it also a man-made problem, as well. 

The phenomenon of natural disasters occurring at the same time as man-made problems makes for a horrible combination. One of these man-made problems is the 20-year Afghanistan War which has been partially resolved. Although the war has ended, and 67,000 Afghans have been airlifted, and our troops are now out, there are many angry Americans who complain we should have stayed to win the war. Some will not accept the fact that we lost this unwinnable war, in which we lost almost 20,000 of our soldiers. Others are furious as to how the departure took place. To me, it is a book that should have been closed many years ago. I hope folks will allow it to be closed now. 

Our man-made disasters go far beyond Afghanistan and some are even more serious. In my opinion, what stands out is that a coup to destroy our democracy was almost accomplished by the insurrection on our Capitol on Jan. 6. It was based on the Big Lie promulgated by ex-President Trump, claiming he was the winner of the 2020 election. He acted upon Hitler’s quote, that if you shout a lie often enough, you can make folks believe it’s the truth. Recent polls show that 70% of Republicans actually believe, or support, the Big Lie. 

As difficult as it is to believe, some folks are willing to destroy our government and the benefits of freedom that democracy affords. 

This horrendous occurrence is not the only man-made problem we face. Racism in our diverse population is probably the most basic problem. We are inundated by “white supremacists” and a multitude of hate groups. The Southern Poverty Law Center identified 838 separate hate groups. Also, for the first time in our history, our Supreme Court has a preponderance of politicized judges who are willing to make unconstitutional decisions, currently related to voting rights laws and abortion rights. This man-made problem is disastrous at the highest court and could jeopardize our nation, turning it from a democracy to an autocracy. 

Gun violence is rampant, and we must fight for gun regulation over immense opposition. Police reform is a difficult balance to strike, and it too, faces tremendous opposition. Meanwhile, there are thousands of refugees and asylum seekers from Haiti and South America who continue to migrate to our southern borders. Our immigration system is broken, and must be restructured. 

The phenomenon of natural and man-made disasters converging is truly frightening. We all have our priorities as to what to address and when. My priority is voting rights and fighting the hate so prevalent in our divided nation. We Americans — Independents, Democrats, and that 30% of true Republicans — must unite to meet and overcome these challenges, and we will!

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