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Any afternoon will do

It is a beautiful afternoon in Puntarenas, Costa Rica. The rain clouds from last night blew away and the sun is out. The afternoon breezes are picking up and it is quite fresh and comfortable after a rather hot, humid morning. We who live in the mainland U. S. must keep in mind that when we use words like "sweltering" to describe Brazil during the World Cup games, we simply mean hot and humid, not unbearable.

Anyone who lives in Florida, or who likes to go there because of the climate, will enjoy the tropical Central American countries. I am used to insects, having grown up in Guam, which is a tropical Pacific island. Insects and small animals will live in ecosystems that are friendly to them, and those who talk about the Gulf Coast as though they have a housekeeping problem are wrong.

Someone in my neighborhood is playing a concert recording, so it sounds like there is a big public event going on nearby, but this is strictly a residential area. As I think of the chaos going on in cities and towns across America, it breaks my heart to think that they could all be passing a pleasant Saturday afternoon if we did not have a media that is vested in emotion, keeping us as near the point of panic as they can so that they can make money out of it.

I rail about weapons control, and the other day my ideas about that were underlined when I started to combat the mosquitoes that sometimes hang around the patio of my cabina. You buy something called Mosquito Coils, that are made out of something resembling the Fourth of July sparklers and punks. You light them and they smolder, sending fumes around on the breeze that chase insects away. And in order to light them, of course, we need matches. Would you believe that matches are controlled in Costa Rica? Yes--I mentioned to my friends that I needed matches while we were shopping. I thought that they would direct me to wherever they were displayed on the shelves, but instead I discovered that I must ask for them at the checkout counter! I have been thinking about that ever since.

I know that Costa Rica doesn't have a standing army, and they have more teachers than policemen. The consciousness here is high enough to appreciate this situation, and I hope it doesn't change. The vicious drug craze that swept through the first-world countries is dying down, as is the clientele, and many people here and in the U. S. have no further interest in drugs.

Personally, my interest in drugs ended when the life of Janis Joplin was taken by her addiction. I can still remember the day I heard of her death, alone in an apartment in Chicago while my husband was at work. Now I experience a relatively safe haven, where people who fall afoul of drug dealers are sentenced to mandatory rehabilitation and stand a good chance to return to a productive life.

The spectacular failure of the evangelical Christian church in American society has brought us to a point at which you begin to think that you must be evangelical in order to be a Christian, while the hierarchies of the Baptists, the Assemblies of God and others try to justify their quest to embrace and dictate all the shameful posturing of the Republican elected officials. Those of us who refuse to get on that bandwagon are being confronted in a mood that comes closer to violence every day. If you read the news web pages you can find the stories in which Republican candidates and evangelical preachers exhort "sovereign citizens" to take up arms. It is going to happen one day. I can't tell you when, but at some point a group of like-minded fanatics is going to count their numbers and decide that it's time to give it a go.

They may march on the White House to try to depose President Obama in a right-wing coup, or they may head for the Congress to get their hands bloody. Whatever they do, they will have to be put down with violence and then the process of civil war will be at the point where only common-sense, everyday Americans can stop it.

Several people have said that America can never be brought down from without; the only way America can be destroyed is from within. The right-wing Republicans who use words like "tyranny" ought to be careful. There is such a thing as getting more than you bargain for.

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