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     "Find your niche," everyone advises the writer, and all
would-be writers.  You don't need a niche in which to write, but
evidently you do need one to put your materials into, to attract
the attention of editors and publishers and readers.  If you
don't want to attract attention, but rather simply enjoy the high
that comes from writing, that is, from clarifying what you think
by writing it down, you'll be better off without a niche.  Just
go ahead and write.
     But I wanted to share some of mine, so here I am enjoying my
rather absurd niche -- my age.  Everyone is either getting into
my niche or dying.  It's getting crowded here, they tell me. 
Everyone is aging, at the same rate, one day at a time, day after
day.  For me the days are flying by extremely fast -- except when
I'm writing, which somehow magically slows down Time, and even
allows some kind of Time Travel.  Anyway, my niche is my age and
my memory.  I wanted to call it, "The Longer Perspective," but so
far that's been a little too dignified.  
     Here's this "old guy," enjoying the Second Half Journey more
than some of my fellow-travelers seem to be doing, remembering
when the world seemed to make sense.  My major concerns are not
my health or my "financial condition."  Rather I find myself
concerned about overpopulation, equality, violence and the
deteriorating environment.
     My concerns help define and clarify my niche, without doubt. 
And yet I wonder -- shouldn't these things be absolutely
everybody's concern?  But then, if equality, for instance, was
everybody's concern, it wouldn't be much of a problem, would it?
     There are those who think that "environmentalists"
constitute a "special interest," as if the decay of the ozone
layer, or the multiplication of the volume of toxic and
radioactive waste loose in the world, or global warming, or the 
depletion of the fresh water supply, weren't going to affect in a 
deleterious fashion all life forms!
     Our current president thinks that environmentalists are his 
enemies, and if his budget is any indication, he is enemy of the 
environment, for sure.  His public relations statements do not 
really count.
     But, what is an "environmentalist"?  Anyone who drinks and 
needs to drink clean water, right?  Anyone who is susceptible to 
cell and gene damage from radioactive bombardment, right?  
Anyone whose skin is burnt by overexposure to ultraviolet  rays, 
right?  So, who isn't an environmentalist?
     Persons who do not comprehend nutrition, or radiation, may
not be environmentalists.  Persons who know so little science and
math that they find the alarms incomprehensible and unbelievable
and can't follow the logic where it leads may not be
environmentalists.  Persons who are making a profit from the
exploitation and depletion and pollution of the only world we
live in may not be environmentalists.  But all the rest of us,
who can add and subtract and figure and follow logical arguments,
who breathe oxygen and drink water and don't need any more poison
or radioactive insult, are surely environmentalists.  
     Maybe we aren't handcuffing ourselves to bulldozers, or
spending months living in the tops of threatened trees, or
bothering yet to boycott the worst polluting corporations, but we
care about these things and surely could be called at least
"closet environmentalists"!  Special interest?  What's special
about it?  It's merely human.  
     The polluters could perhaps be called a special interest.  
The current administration in Washington does seem to fit the 
definition. They care more about their profits than the health of 
their children and grandchildren, which does make them rather 
special, it seems to me.  Unusual, anyway.  And they fit perfectly 
the phrase, "special interest" -- they stand to gain something from
the harm they are doing the others.  How they became exempt
themselves from that harm is something that does need studying. 
How do they survive without clean air and water?  How do they
avoid the consequences of radioactive bombardment of their cell
nuclei?  Expressing concerns about these things constitutes a
sort of special niche, evidently.

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Copyright © 2001 Harry Willson

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