You wake up one day, and five police officers have been killed in Dallas.
You wake up a different day, and people are glued to their phones in an obsessive search for Pokemon.
You wake up every day and another American citizen — or two or three or five — has been killed by a gun, not infrequently wielded by a toddler.
The media treat all these events as worthy of equivalent coverage.
And perhaps they are, in terms of what they tell us about us.
Pokemon was born, back in 1990, by a designer seeking to combine his love of video games with his childhood passion for collecting insects.
Now insects — the woefully misunderstood, largely unstudied animals essential to our existence — are declining dramatically in many parts of the world, due in large part to us.
But few of us notice, and even fewer care, our attention diverted from the natural world we actually live in to the virtual world within our phones.
Which is how an electronic game comes to be deemed “an inescapable force of nature,” on par, say, with tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis.
“Billionaires can't buy Bernie” reads the bumper sticker on a Lexus SUV, spotted on the day that Sanders endorses Hillary Clinton.
And so one revolution of rhetoric fizzles as yet another revolution of rhetoric flourishes:
In countless collisions of color and creed, Donald J. Trump’s name evokes an easily understood message of racial hostility. Defying modern conventions of political civility and language, Mr. Trump has breached the boundaries that have long constrained Americans’ public discussion of race.
On the internet, Mr. Trump is invoked by anonymous followers brandishing stark expressions of hate and anti-Semitism, surprisingly amplified this month when Mr. Trump tweeted a graphic depicting Hillary Clinton’s face with piles of cash and a six-pointed star that many viewed as a Star of David.
“I think what we really find troubling is the mainstreaming of these really offensive ideas,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, which tracks hate groups. “It’s allowed some of the worst ideas into the public conversation in ways we haven’t seen anything like in recent memory.”
"It's so sad when voters are forced to choose the lesser of evils," bemoans my 98-year-old hanai mom, who has seen the world repeatedly turned upside down by the worst in us: racism, fascism, totalitarianism, terrorism, ignorance, apathy, greed and fear.
On Kauai, meth addicts rage, homeless pack the parks, feral cats devour endangered birds, agriculture struggles, roads clog, sewers overflow, the landfill towers. And the County Council indulges in distractions like dog doo and parents smoking in cars.
The bakery case offers a “paleo cookie” for $3.75. The hungry line up at food pantries, grateful for a box of sweet, stale snacks among the canned goods.
Countless hours, untold amounts of cash, are expended in a bitter fight over how to disclose the role of a plant breeding technology in the production of processed food in the world's wealthiest nation. “Mothers have the right to know what they're feeding their children,” we are told.
“The real evil with which we have to contend is not the physical evil of the Famine, but the moral evil of the selfish, perverse and turbulent character of the people.” — Charles Trevelyan, British civil servant and colonial administrator
We are outraged. We are outraged by the outrage. We are outraged by the outrage over the outrage.
And yet the status quo churns on: