The air conditioner has made deep summer bearable throughout the nation. It has made sun-scorched lands inhabitable and enabled Arizona and Florida to flourish, free from the bondage of excessive heat.
The machine that cools us down when things get hot might not be a blessing without issues, though.
Observers of President Donald Trump’s grand July 4th celebration might cool off and take a moment to think about that.
Can you chill out without AC?
The rhythms of life were slower a hundred years or more ago, before the gas Freon (aka R-22) was synthesized, making refrigerators and, eventually, air conditioners widely available.
People slowed down when it was hot. They took time to sip lemonade, take a dip in the lake, and sit in the shade during the middle of the day. They took long and leisurely summer vacations.
Along with slowing down physically, people psychologically eased off the gas pedal when things got hot. “Cooling down” is not only a physical act, but also a metaphor for letting go of anger, aggression, irritation, and other such hot urges and emotions.
Summer was no time for a hard-charging, type A personality to reign. You could get heatstroke or even a heart attack if you persisted with the mentality of damn the torpedoes, full-speed-ahead in July. It’s time to be tolerant and let bygones be bygones.
The hot capital
Washington, D.C. in July can be brutal. The heat, the humidity—legend has it that British diplomats assigned to Washington receive extra pay for the tropical climate, as if they were stationed in Bangkok or Nairobi.
Surely things were different in Washington before the air conditioner arrived. Partisan battling, protesters, and journalists searching for government malfeasance all slowed down. Maybe there was time to reconsider things, and maybe foes met for a cool drink, or just left the fray for a bit.
You might think that the internet and the 24-hour news cycle have ratcheted up the bitterness and bile of partisan politics, and no doubt they have. But who could sustain their attacks on “the enemy” if they were without their AC and instead drenched with sweat as they got worked up over affronts real and imagined?
This brings us to the grand celebration on the National Mall on July 4, with President Donald Trump and his speech. We had on display parades, pageantry, military might, and oratory celebrating the birth of the United States.
Some commentators have criticized and belittled anything the president does or says since before he was elected. Couldn’t they take a break, maybe even say something positive about the celebration? In their air-conditioned comfort, it seems they could only amp up the invective.
You’ve probably read the complaints and sneering elsewhere, so we won’t repeat them here.
President Trump made history by being the first president since Harry Truman to address the nation on the National Mall on the Fourth of July. The crowd, in the steamy air of Washington in July, mostly reveled in the celebration of the nation. The protesters, off to the side, just might have been better off with some lemonade or a sit in the shade.
All in all it was a cool time, no AC required.