Thursday, February 8, 2018

The second in a series of short writings based on our recent ecotourism trip to Costa Rica


I know, ecotourism guides are notoriously good at their jobs, and that has certainly been my experience in a variety of places. All of my previous trips to far-off lands, however, were pre-Trump and prior to the bubbling up of willful ignorance that his short administration has modeled, encouraged, and enabled. And so, during our ten days in Costa Rica, I found myself thinking: suppose you had our guide, Alejandro, and Mr. Trump in the same room, alone, somewhere far from the cameras and media, with nothing to talk about but their respective nations’ history, culture, natural resources, and human potential. What would this conversation sound like? Based on the evidence gathered so far, I strongly suspect that Alejandro would assess his audience immediately, tone it down, hold back so as not to offend, be patient, thinking that this other person needed a great deal of help just getting through the hour, but at the same time wondering why all his former client groups, e.g., those from France and Germany, seemed so aware of reality compared to this one. And what would Mr. Trump be thinking? Based only on what we have heard come out of his mouth so far, and his actions so far (e.g., Puerto Rico), I suspect he’d be nervous as hell in the company of a small brown man with such command of the English language, such breadth of knowledge about the natural world, such skill at bringing his nation’s cultural and economic history into any discussion but in an educational way. I suspect Mr. Trump would feel quite threatened by this young man’s knowledge, his understanding of natural processes, and his perspective on agricultural economics. This kid would obviously be educated. Educated! That nasty word that got me unfriended from Oklahoma relatives prior to November 8, 2016. That condition that makes me and most of the ~17,000 university students to whom I’ve given grades since 1966 anathema to the folks lining up behind our current president, that model of willful ignorance and fragile ego begging for a big military parade he believes will honor the Commander in Chief, but actually will only show just how important he thinks he is.

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