Measure C: the Next Steps
The aftermath of the loss of Measure C (the watershed initiative that would have offered some protection for oak woodlands and water supply) by 641 votes out of the 35,700 votes cast, has the quality of the quiet just before dark clouds rumble on the horizon. Soon the winds pick up, whipping treetops. Lightening bolts flash. When I was a child, we were taught to count from the moment we saw the fire serpent until we heard the explosive crack. One-one thousand, two-one thousand, three-one thousand, four-one thousand, five-one thousand. Each five seconds was a mile. My father told me lightening fertilized the soil, ripping nitrogen molecules apart to recombine with oxygen, then dissolve in rain, and seep into to the earth. Violent action can have positive consequences. Perhaps it will be so in Napa as well.
Is this the rhythmic pause between the in-breath and the out-breath? Or are we holding our breath? How hard to live with ambiguity, that consequential curse of eating from the tree of knowledge of the opposites. Is this the beginning of transformation? Jung spoke of the transcendent function, that which may appear when we consciously entertain all aspects without projecting what we don’t want to claim. Only then can something entirely new come, something often beyond our wildest imaginations. In the Jewish esoteric text of the Kabbalah, this fruit-eating is synonymous with “the great task of beirurim, sifting through the mixture of good and evil in the world to extract and liberate the sparks of holiness trapped therein.” Can we hope for such an alchemical, albeit painful, outcome?
To quote Super Chicken, one of my little brother’s favorite childhood heroes in George of the Jungle, “You knew the job was dangerous when you took it.” Holding opposite views is always psychologically dangerous: we are tempted to go to one extreme or the other to release tension. Ambiguity is uncomfortable.
Yes, I am angry that the No on C folks spent three times as much money as the Yes on C folks, mostly to deceive and confuse voters. I am angry No on C signs and fliers blatantly lied about the impacts of Measure C, should it have passed: that it would increase traffic, raise taxes, cause more cutting of trees, and more event centers in the hills. It was not a fair win, but it was also a very qualified win, reflecting what can be creative tension. Hopefully we are up for the task of staying present to the facts of the situation as well as to the anger, disappointment, and grief, knowing this is far more than the passage of a citizen initiative. In the words of the Talmud, “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. … You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”