Reality-altering sharpies: A distraction we don’t need

See Disclaimer. Also published in Hood River News (“Return to normalcy,” Letters to the Editor, September 11, 2019)

SharpieGate is emblematic of Trump’s presidency. It folds the well-recognized lack of knowledge, maturity and ethics of this president into a sequence of events esoteric enough for a Twilight Zone script.

The press has publicized and analyzed those events extensively. A multitude of memes ensued where sharpies alter reality—ranging from the creatively funny to the predictably disgusting.

America is once again wondering whether to laugh or be terrified. In the process, a venerable agency (NOAA) seemingly sold its soul to defend the indefensible explanations of the president. In doing so, it threw under the bus NOAA’s own National Weather Service—together with robust science that “provide[s] weather, water, and climate data, forecasts and warnings for the protection of life and property and enhancement of the national economy.

None of this is normal. None of it is reasonable or sustainable. In the midst of real crises, we have a dangerously unfit leader, who is small and petty rather than effective and reassuring. Yet, somehow, we are fixated on him, perhaps even becoming our own versions of him.

How do we return to normalcy, to responsible adulthood strengthened by glimpses of irreverence and diversity of ideas? How do we bring back reality, data and science, in support of vision, daring and compassion—to ensure the sustainability and prosperity of the human race in this Earth we all share?

I wish I had the answers. Whatever they are, they are unlikely to be unique or simple. But perhaps we can agree on the following:

Step 1: Let’s not re-elect this president—or anyone, at any level of office, who overrides (physically or metaphorically) reality with sharpies.

Step 2: Let’s restrain ourselves from being part of the problem. Starting by getting informed, learning how to listen, and throwing away our own reality-altering sharpies.

Step 3: Let’s become part of the solution. Starting by committing to building consensus and acting constructively.

Step 4: Let’s remember to enjoy the simple things in life. Being at peace with ourselves does not solve all problems, but is a step in the right direction.

— Antonio Baptista


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