Paradise on earth

From my rooftop terrace in the old town on top of the cliff, I might perhaps be excused for imagining that this is a beautiful world. Squinting against the sun, I see undulating green fields, pink almond blossoms, pale against the rich green foliage of orange trees, frolicking birds, a twinkling river – all carefree under a warm mid-February sun. From my long walks in the mountains just a few kilometres away, I know that some wild animals still survive , and even here, in this very village, by the river, there are exotic birds and otters. On one of my walks near the town I actually saw a mongoose.

Yes, this part of the world is without doubt beautiful, at least for some of us, it is.

A financial crisis struck Spain in 2007, and banks had to be bailed out with tax payers’ money. Now, they say, the crisis is over, but a large part of the middle class has been pauperised since 2007, as by a stroke of lightning. More than 37% of those who are 25 or younger are still unemployed.

As for this village, time has forgotten it, has passed it by. In the old town, many have moved out, and lots of the town’s 16th–19th century mansions have been partially or entirely abandoned and left to crumble, while people who still live here try as best they can to whitewash their erstwhile seigniorial dwellings in time for Easter every year.

My neighbours live on what they can gather from day to day. Wild asparagus, for instance, which is sold in the streets, or snails. But Spain is still, after all, in the EU, and people are not allowed to die of starvation. There are social services. And neighbours help each other as best they can. One neighbour is nearly a hundred years old, and her mind has long departed. Her six children take turns nursing her. Lifting her out of bed, dressing her, feeding her, taking her to the toilet, putting her to bed… They have been doing so for years. And years. And years.

This is a kind village. A very kind village. Very little crime. You can walk safely home at night.

Meanwhile, hearing the faint echoes of the news, I ask myself: Why is mainstream media so pusillanimous about discussing the essence of each disaster? I mean ALL mainstream media, not just US media, though my example now is about the NRA: Just exactly what is the National Rifle Association? What is the socio-economic profile of its members? What is the average level of education of its members? What are the NRA’s links to the Republican Party? How much does the organisation as a whole plus individual members pay to maintain their political sway, officially and unofficially? And not least, what is the extent and the nature of the NRA’s links to the arms industry?

Such questions are important, are they not? Why do I hear so little about them? True, I am not a US American. But are these questions loudly addressed in the USA? Do US Americans understand why the NRA holds so much sway? For that matter, do US Americans understand why they are being ruled by a Donald Trump?