Civic Culture of Davis - Against Nihilism


We’ve all heard the rhetoric from Donald Trump. His attacking the City of Baltimore's quality of life with the term "infestation". Attacking SF & LA for their homeless problem. Attacks on Chicago for its violence. Attacks on Puerto Rico 2 year ago while it staggering to recover in the wake of hurricane. Calling other countries "shitholes"--. and his worse-than-indifference response families and children seeking refuge at southern border.

The leader of our country, elected to the most powerful office with tens of thousands of employees at his command, can offer only criticism without offering help or assistance. Nihilism.

This is what inspired the clergy of Washington's National Cathedral to write a letter rebuking Donald Trump, asking “Where is his decency?” echoing those who challenged Senator Joseph McCarthy’s rhetoric in 1950's.. His lack of humanity.

The clergy then turned it around, asking the rest of the county where is OUR decency that we tolerate his behavior and rhetoric without speaking up?

But with Trump’s dark noise filling the media news of progress to fix problems is lost. Positive acts of good government and decency by leaders and activists are downed out .

We have lost sight of our better selves as a country. In fact, it becomes hard to imagine America as anything but a Hobbesian zero-sum game, a negotiation about getting what is owed you at the expense of someone else. Theories of corruption and conspiracy in government abound. Ideas like Chemtrails, Antivaxxer, , George Soros, and Climate Change Denial even the Flat Earth Society, all based on conspiracy theories are legitimated in this climate. The mentally ill man who shot Davis officer Corona did it based on a conspiracy theory that is supported on the internet. And it is to be noted someone made a public comment at city council just 4 weeks after that shooting affirming their belief that conspiracy theory the inspired the tragic shooting was real.

But if you were at City Hall on after midnight Tuesday 7/30/19 you could see decency in action-- how people care for one another, even the stranger.

I was at that Davis City Council meeting at 12:20am, I was staying to speak on a minor agenda item on Trees. This was 7 hours into a meeting that began at 5:30pm and had ran almost non-stop (only a few bathroom breaks). Twenty minutes after midnight Council & staff began an agenda item on where and what services to put at a new respite center for our local homeless population.

Still in the room at midnight were not just council members and city staff—but also 15 Davis residents who stayed up to make a public comment to council on the issue. To provide useful input on the different options for the homeless center. To altruistically advocate for Council to take action to help the neediest in our community.

People “owning” the problem and working on it. The opposite of Nihilism.

I thought of the contrast between the dark rhetoric from the President Trump and how he used Government, and this scene that was playing out before my eyes in City Council Chambers. It moved me to tears.

When Trump was elected 33 months many of us said “this was not normal”. Our local leaders, and the Davis Community on Midnight Tuesday proved Trump‘s world view has not been normalized. We still stand up for decency in Davis.

We believe in participatory democracy here

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