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Ill Shut Up - Right After This

The good guys just keep trying

We&

re out at Lava Beds, south of Klamath, in the moonlight, checking out the long ridge of moon craters and mountains through the telescope. Two striped chipmunks dart around near us, doing their mating dance among the rare Mariposa lilies. We&

ve just been to the little cracker bar outside the National Monument boundaries for a delicious, dust-cutting pale ale. It&

s so silent &

&

quiet as a skunk in the moonlight,&

as the cowboy saying goes. The sky is so vast, the sage and juniper so still. And so are we.

The ranger says we have to be out by Friday because the Modocs are coming home from Oklahoma and will need the whole campground. They used to live here, before the Army forced them out. The Modocs wouldn&

t go. They holed up in these lava caves through the winter of 1872-73, with their families. At peace talks, they took out Gen. Canby and some others and hung for it. Now you can go on a self-guided tour of the natives&

fortifications. At the end of it, tourists have spontaneously erected a shrine to the Indians, with all kinds of sticks, buttons, feathers, stones, coins, notes. As Leonard Cohen sang, &

Everybody knows that the war is over; everybody knows that the good guys lost.&

It&

s good to drive back into Ashland, where the battle over another good guy, Chief Mike, still rages and posters are hung, protesting that the hard-line cops want him out because he&

s &

too soft.&

I remember him in the &

80s as a young cop, one who would always greet you with a smile and nod, one who would stop and talk to you. He was the one you&

d remember because he was the only one you met, not in your rearview mirror with lights flashing, but out of his car, standing there with you, one of us. My daughter Heather, in high school in the &

80s, would comment, &

Oh yeah, he&

s the cop who comes up to kids smoking pot in the park and, instead of putting the cuffs on them, stops and asks them how their lives are. And listens.&

&

It seems that every few months in Medford, some guy gets drunk, waves a gun around and the cops rush out and &

hey, he&

s got a gun, end of story &

pump the poor bastard full of lead, then ask questions. I mean, hello, we do have rubber bullets, tear gas, tazers, all kinds of nonlethal means to get him alive and into drug treatment and counseling. But when it happened in Ashland a few months ago, Mike wouldn&

t let his people fill the air with bullets. Does this put them in danger? It takes a lot more guts and brains to do it peacefully. That&

s what we pay cops for. I think if the city got rid of Mike, there would be a local revolution.

We pick up the paper, alas, to read that via Measure 37 claims, developers want to virtually ring sweet Ashland with golf courses, three more of them. I know that hitting this little white ball around is, for many people, a ritual filled with deep passion and reverence, but surely they could wait their turn at one or at most two golf courses? Or perhaps find stress relief by taking up yoga and meditation in one of our town&

s dozen yoga parlors? Sprawl on, developers. Sometimes, it takes a bumper sticker to succinctly sum it all up. One I just saw reads, &

Visualize taking your yuppie ass back to California.&

Meanwhile, other cities, like Sorsogon in the Philippines, are dealing with very different visions. I&

m interviewing Sally Lee, Sorsogon&

s mayor, at the annual Social Artistry retreat put on at SOU by author-philosopher Jean Houston of Ashland. Lee is basing her budget on U.N. Millennial Development goals &

environment, gender equality, children&

s safety, health and education, getting rid of AIDS, and global partnering.

Never heard of it? Neither had I. But 192 nations, including the U.S., agreed to it in the final year of the Clinton administration. We&

d never agree to it now. Sally, the quintessential &

just a housewife,&

suddenly found herself running a city of 140,000 and using these goals to make the world work, not for developers and the military, but for women and children first. After all, if the world works for women and children, the world is going to work for everyone.

Such is not the case in our nation&

s agenda &

local, state or national &

but suddenly Jean says Hillary Clinton is going to be our next president. Really? How do you know that? She&

s an old friend of Hillary&

s and has always seen it in her bearing and vision and the people she has around her. It&

s her destiny. It&

s time for a woman&

s hand on the tiller, isn&

t it? Hope she wouldn&

t be a Jimmy Carter &

nice but neutralized. No, says Jean, she&

s tough and knows what she&

s doing.

The good guys keep tinkering, trying to make it better &

like Ely Schless, building silent, nonpolluting electric motorcycles in his warehouse out by the Ashland airport, year after year, getting ready for the time, not too far off, when, instead of spending $200 billion and 1,800 American lives (plus 20,000 Iraqi lives) going off in search of oil, we&

ll spend half an hour charging our bike, going off in search of groceries.

is an Ashland writer and counselor &

jdarling@jeffnet.org