The Great Unwashed

Send me your tired, your dirty clothing, yearning for laundry.

No, he didn’t mean laundry. Sir Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton came up with the phrase, “the great unwashed”. He meant common people, or the hoi polloi.

Bulwer-Lytton didn’t mean my full hamper, a week’s worth of clothes brimming over the sides. These I will carry to the garage, dump into a machine with a pellet of detergent, and let them sit in it and rotate. The suds will reach into the earth. Downstream, someday, to the sea.

Climate change occupies our thoughts. The climate changes on its own. But humans bring about changes that may not have come—or may not have been so quick. May? To the best we can tell, have. No laundry yet for our great unwashed.

Al Gore left Apple’s Board of Directors. Members can’t run for reelection beyond age 75. Kids these days. (Bulwer-Lytton didn’t come up with that.) In one forum, a kiddo said “Good: I’m glad they have age limits. Not like the Supreme Court or Congress or the President.”

We knew Gore for his stands on climate change. Some said he contributed to Apple’s progressive views in this arena. In that forum, some called Gore a hypocrite. They pointed to Gore’s use of fancy jets and gas-guzzling cars.

They griped from plastic-infused computers powered by coal, gas, or oil. Their computers will land obsolete in third world waste pits or down to the sea in ocean garbage patches. But they say, as did their elders, climate has changed ever since there has been a climate. Don’t change the climate: be the climate. Right?

We who gripe about those who gripe do so on those same computers. Unlike Al, we can’t afford fancy jets. We may need gas guzzlers until we can afford EVs. And we still use those little plastic bags in the produce section of the grocery. I’m glad the “public” electric company works to convert the power for our heat pump to solar and wind sources.

I recall “Peanuts”. Snoopy had a typewriter atop the doghouse. On it, he started the next great American novel. He used a sentence from Bulwer-Lytton.

It was a dark and stormy night.