The day after Donald J. Trump was elected, my three freshmen granddaughters, Sunnie, Sophie, and Elizabeth texted me. We’d discussed Mr. Trump’s misogynistic behavior. Of all the back-and-forth texts the one that gut-punched me were two words from Sunnie, my multiracial granddaughter; “I’m scared.”

Technology is bringing about a paradigm shift. What used to bind us no longer works. When older theories and rituals become irrelevant, we seek new sources to give meaning to life and find connections with others.

Legend tells of 9th-century goat shepherds experiencing a burst of energy after eating the cherries of the Rubiaceae coffee plant. Don’t know if the goats consumed the plant, but goats love eating invasive plants and will chew on Thistle when goodies are scarce, so it’s likely. Then, the story goes, an abbot from a nearby monastery concocted a drink from the cherries and it worked like a sort of a spiritual no-doze for monks during long meditations.

Catastrophic events can be a turning point for societies. The Black Death (peaked in Europe between 1347-1351) is said to have taken the life of 60% of Europe’s population. The plague didn’t discriminate, young or old, wealthy or poor. Realizing that religion could do nothing to stop the spread must have been a bitter pill to swallow. The life people knew and trusted ended.

A young inmate picks up a rock to throw at a seagull standing in a puddle. Jarvis Master, a black man on death row, raises his arm to stop him. The San Quinten yard got quiet because, in this culture, you stay out of other people’s business. Angered, the inmate shouts, “What do you think you are doing?” Jarvis answers, “Don’t! That bird’s got my wings.”