The Denome’s Advocate: Fire, fury and a reason to smile in these trying times


t’s the middle of November and California is on fire. It’s unsafe to walk around outside without a mask on. And the president is talking about the need to perform basic gardening tasks as the solution.

Not too much room for optimism, eh?

It certainly is hard to be excited about what the future holds considering what this state, the nation and the world is going through right now. Between scientists telling us that we’re in the midst of a climate crisis, a President-elect in Brazil openly talking about genocide and the ever-depressing realities of American politics, there’s not a lot to be cheerful about right now.

In spite of all this, we can’t become apathetic. We can’t resign ourselves to a downward spiral of life. Of all times, now is the time when it’s most important to be optimistic, and to think of a better world and how we can achieve it.

Confined to my house by the smoke this past weekend, I spent some time reading for pleasure, which I haven’t been able to do since summer break. In one book I read, about the history of the Santa Clara Valley orchards and apricot growers, the author painted a striking image: of how a century ago, from the peak of Mount Hamilton, the air was so clear that an observer could look up and see all the way across the Central Valley to Yosemite National Park.

This image encapsulated me. The smoke outside currently makes it impossible to even see clearly down my street, let alone some 100 miles across the state. But what a fantastic view that must have made, with the peaks of the Sierra Nevadas in front of the person and the Santa Clara Valley behind them, which was once filled with fruit trees described as all different shades of pink and green and orange.

How nice it would be if things were still that way and we could all spend a day at the Lick Observatory and just gaze down at the sights. Yet that view is likely lost to us forever. We’ll be resigned to rising temperatures and growing discontent.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

We may disagree on the solutions, but there is a recourse for humanity, in which we can save the planet and save ourselves. And most importantly, build not just a satisfactory world, but a better world. Perhaps we can find some new beauty in the Santa Clara Valley that is even greater than vast orchards or a view of the Sierras from leagues away.

I sincerely hope that you have a similar utopian view of the world in mind, or at least some form of hope for the future. Either way, take some initiative! Go out (as soon as the smoke clears) and get to volunteering, picking up trash, cycling, protesting or whatever other action you think is best.

Maybe once all that is done we’ll have time to rake the forests. That’ll appease the president.