Elephants in Botswana

An amazing lunch guest

This spectacular shot is from an elephant sanctuary in Botswana called Living with Elephants. It was taken by my daughter, Elle Raboff during what I consider to be one of my life’s best lunch experiences. The bull I’m hugging came up to me quite graciously mid-lunch and poked around with his big-ass trunk until I gave up and gave him some attention (the hug). Read on to understand why I chose this particular favorite to illustrate some somewhat scattered thoughts.

Last night, an American friend and I had dinner at one of our local eateries. As per usual, the evening’s conversation hovered over a wide gamut of topics – most notably norm shifts and things that have changed since we lived in the US. I’m particularly mesmerized by some of the new “normals” and how impactful yet seemingly unquestioned they are.

One solid example is how totally reasonable it is today for tens of millions of Americans to finance their lifestyle, much of which they can’t really afford, by taking on huge debts and financial obligations that put them at the very brink of personal bankruptcy. The norm shift here is plainly that it’s perfectly okay to juggle a dozen or so credit cards and/or refinance your home in order to maintain a lifestyle that a lot of folks firmly believe they’re entitled to – just by virtue of being American. That it’s like a birth right to live way beyond your means – not to mention actual needs. And I have a hard time wrapping my head around that if you question any of this, some will instinctively consider you a commie. A socialist, at the very least.

Another interesting norm shift is how it’s become perfectly fine to spend more time shopping and television watching than any other non-work or sleep related activity. The most popular pastime in the US – after watching television has to be shopping. I would bet a pretty penny that the most common family activity isn’t enjoying time together during a communal dinner, playing a board game, a park picnic, a day at the beach or going for a weekend bike ride or a hike. Instead, it’s more likely, at least in urban America, that you take two separate, oversized cars and drive a few blocks to your local mall and spend several hours and a credit institution’s money on clothes, food, shiny gadgets and other stuff. And I just read here that the average American watches close to 5 hours of TV per day. Five hours? Really? How do you fit that in to a mere 24 hour life-cycle when there’s already a plethora of addictions like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and the aforementioned shopping mall – all competing for your attention (and wallet)?

There’s so much that has changed since I left the US. Of course, not all of it’s bad. But I fret that much of the country’s population is unaware of these shifts and in such a deep comatose state, that they just don’t see where the ship is sailing and that the current captain/commadner-in-chief is really just a simple pirate out to pillage and plunder as much as he can.

So, there’s no question in my mind that the current administration doesn’t see things through the lens of what was previously considered ethically acceptable, financially viable or emotionally reasonable. Trump and his trumpians have no moral compass nor do they choose to see nuances. It’s pretty much a black and white, off and on, stop or go, win or lose value system. Your either with me or against me. There is no genuine interest in fixing what’s broken – unless, of course, it coincides with a lucrative or strategically favorable deal.

Though obviously not communicated publicly, there is no doubt in my mind that the president and his cohorts have a distinct Darwinistic approach to every single decision they make. This a fundamental strategy that more or less all politicians live by regardless of where in the world they are. But in the US, it’s become more blatant and painfully obvious than ever before.

It’s all about making deals and coming out on top and Trump is prepared to say or do whatever needs to be done or said to get there. Even if it means reversing, back-tracking and conveniently forgetting past agreements. Each deal resides in an echo-chamber and all peripheral and long-term consequences are, of course, completely ignored as they are considered irrelevant to the deal at hand.

So when the Trump Administration is now considering lifting the ban on importing stuffed elephants as hunting trophies, it’s not for any other reason than to make a deal with the lobby group that has successfully persuaded The United States Fish and Wildlife Service that, yes, it’s perfectly okay to start hunting elephants for game again. To begin with in two unamed African countries. And to make things even crazier, this deal, should it go through, is being made – with all likelihood – with the president of one of the Africa countries who is arguably even more mentally challenged than the dude with the crazy hairdo currently in our oval office.

I think you’re strange to begin with if you think shooting an elephant is fun and exciting. I don’t really understand the thrill of hunting in general and especially not killing animals for shear amusement. That’s sick however you slice it.

In closing, I think we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Yup, we be in for some really rough tough times, Bubba. This is an era that looks to be defined by a freeforall or better yet a most deadly game of musical chairs. So the question is where are we and the planet when the music finally stops?

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