Nearly 6 months into the COVID-19 pandemic and the loss of nearly 200,000 American lives, the wildfires of California, Oregon and Washington have blanketed the entire west coast with an unimaginable shroud of smoke and sense of despair. For days on end, we have been warned not to go outside as the air is unhealthy in the extreme. Today, venturing out to look for some remnant of light, the air smelled like yesterday’s campfire. Dank and sour.

It feels like we are in the trifecta of bad things: COVID-19, environmental devastation and the continued daily assault of Donald Trump. A more callous and inhumane person has rarely existed. Not a shred of compassion for the lives lost to COVID and to the fires. Not an ounce of understanding or recognition of environmental catastrophe nor an acknowledgement of the crises that are unfolding because of climate change.

As each day folds into the next, largely indistinguishable, I feel we are on a completely downward spiral in this country. And my usual resolve is beginning to wear thin. What will it take to turn things around? At the beginning of COVID, I was hopeful that the exposure of the dark underbelly of racism and wealth disparity would give way to a commitment to change. I really believed it was possible. Now, as people have settled in to their COVID-19 routines, the awareness of essential workers plight, the vulnerability of the poor and the aged, the need for action has given way to the usual American shrug of the shoulders and inaction. What will it take? Is it possible to ever heal this nation?