And the Rains Came

This has been the wettest month of June in recent memory. Is it a coincidence that the word rain is a jumbled version of Iran where civilization has had a nervous breakdown? Is our climate having a breakdown as well? Climatologist's point to global warming as the cause of this rain, and my soggy mind has been occupied with building an ark – the kind Noah had constructed when faced by the great flood – only I’m building it inside my roiling brain. Now comes the big question: With whom do we fill it?

You, of course, reader, are welcome aboard, but without your flat screen TV, gas guzzler van, exhausted cell-phone and whining children with ipods glued to their ears. Being human I would go for my own family first. Taking care of one’s own comes with the Good Book seal of approval. Noah didn’t leave his family out to surf the rising waves. Both my sons and their significant others, together with my grand-daughters, my good wife, the family Labrador Sam, and cats Byron and Kittay would make it aboard. Of course I’d invite congenial friends, preferably ones with musical or story telling skills to while away the long hours in the darkness as we rocked and rolled in that raging sea. Plenty of biscuits and bonine aboard. My family doctor would be welcomed with her family. She’s kind and gorgeous and skilled and must be saved. The caring nurse who sees me through the ups and downs of my chronic illness will be among the invited along with various physicians who qualify as full human beings rather than MRI technicians. Cats allowed but no catscans. Janet Ritz, the brilliant environmentalist would be there to give us some tips on how to survive it all. And we would need some folks who are skilled with aqua-agriculture and can mix up a self-restoring batch of salad greens to keep all of us fed. We would all be vegetarians. None of those two by two animals on board would be there for the slaughter. The trouble this modern Noah faces is that virtually every wild animal is now an endangered species, as is much of mankind, so rule number one is no eating the passengers.

Among the celebrated I would invite the Obamas, and their daughters, we need leaders with optimism as we are tossed about in the darkness, although I would spend time arguing with him about that stimulus program which aided the banks more than the people, and forced me to nod in agreement with some bombastic Republicans against my will. No, there would be few Republicans invited. It’s been my experience that they don’t like to share their toys and they can’t play well with others. Beside, the rash of Republican sexual infidelities – the randy eyes of the Gingrish/Sanford set would destroy the comity of the ark. Lust may keep the world populated but on an ark it would only cause dissent, the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments and a fatal disharmony.

For celebrity relief there would be Meryle Streep for acting genius and Pete Seegar for songs and teaching us how to survive the worst, but the two by two racket would have to go. Solitary souls, unmated gay men and women, sad divorcees would all be welcomed on my ark as long as they know who the boss is – me – and they are prepared to pitch in with the rowing from time to time. Arianna would be there to blog the daily doings onboard, and to bring with her the sea-faring traditions of the Greeks. I’d ask Rachel Maddow aboard to report on the events in the ark with her wry, quirky intelligence, and help the nervous ones aboard keep cool. Also aboard would be an inordinate number of elderly men and women, who come with a lifetime of experience on how to survive everything from a Great Depression to a son who doesn’t call home. Straight and Gay marriages would be performed by the captain – me – but no divorces allowed until we hit dry land.

There would be no room for certain radio talk hosts, the Limbaughs of the world would be left outside to float like flotsam as they condemn God as a lefty from their watery graves. Anne Coulter could be found clinging to the stern, shouting for Noah and other Jews to perfect themselves and let her on board as one of the pre- perfected. Rupert Murdoch would attempt to buy the ark and turn it into a right wing tabloid called The Daily Snark but he would be rejected and last be seen clinging to the roof of the Wall Street Journal cursing the darkness. And after God finally forgave us for messing up our gorgeous planet, he would send a city pigeon with a cigarette butt in its mouth to tell us that the floods had receded, and remind us of the mess we had made of it all. And if you listen closely from far off on his mountaintop refuge in Texas one could hear the voice of George W. Bush shouting, “Brownie, you did a heck of a job.’

Sadly, my ark would sink all too quickly under the weight of our past transgressions against the earth, no matter how well it was built. Global warming, rising tides, and disaster will surely come unless we turn our planet into a sustainable ark with clean air, unpolluted waters, and healthy forests and save ourselves now. The work of the world begins today. Not next year. A pile of lumber and a prayer won’t do it anymore. So save the olive from the olive branch for a last martini as we toast mankind’s survival and pledge ourselves to everyday acts to save our planet rather than dream of some future salvation from above.

Editor's note: aw, shucks.

Contributing writer, Sherman Yellen, screenwriter, playwright, and lyricist, has won two Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award, first for his drama John Adams, Lawyer in the PBS series The Adams Chronicles, and later for An Early Frost, a groundbreaking drama about AIDS in America. His Beauty and the Beast was nominated for an Emmy and won the Christopher Award. Yellen was nominated for a Tony Award for his book for the Broadway musical, The Rothschilds. Yellen's other plays include Strangers, December Fools and Josephine Tonight! Sherman Yellen received a lifetime achievement award in Arts and Letters from Bard College.