By Dr. Jim Ferguson

I became acquainted with the term “blue line stream” while trying to develop our property in Knox County. The wet weather drainage ditch at the back of our property was deemed a protected waterway by the Knoxville “EPA” acolytes. Mosquitos must be allowed a summertime stagnant water habitat.

We are water creatures, and astronomers continue to search for evidence of water in our solar system and beyond, believing water is a prerequisite for life. Carl Sagan and others have tried to imagine life based on a molecule other than H2O. In his book “Cosmos,” Sagan hypothesized balloon-like creatures floating amidst the hydrogen clouds of Jupiter. And because silicon is chemically similar to carbon, others have imagined silicon based lifeforms.

I’ve always been drawn to flowing water more so than the sea. Perhaps it’s the Smoky Mountains in my soul. Rivers and streams have always been important for life-giving water. Later in history, controlling water, such as the annual flooding of the Nile, and the irrigation of farmland, became important. The Egyptian civilization developed around the construction of dikes and canals. A second cradle of civilization arose in Mesopotamia (Greek for the “land between two rivers”) along the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates. And a third civilization arose along the banks of the Indus River (India).

Several years ago, friends escorted Becky and me on a non-traditional trip to England. We rented a converted canal longboat, in some ways like a houseboat on a Tennessee lake. We learned how to steer a craft sixty feet long and ten feet wide through old waterways and one hundred and fifty year old locks. The canals were constructed for barge transportation of heavy cargo, avoiding marginal roadways. Our Tennessee River is similarly used for transporting goods by barge.

I previously wrote about the Tennessee River and its headwaters, the Holston and French Broad. This week I continue the “river series” moving southward as the Tennessee River sequentially adds the Little Tennessee, the Clinch and Hiwassee tributaries.

Kids love water. My grandkids never miss an opportunity to stomp in a puddle, and if they’re not watched, splash in our horse troughs. As a boy my brothers and I often walked along the Tennessee River, but even as boys we wouldn’t dip a toe in such a polluted toilet bowl. Just like my grandson, we loved to throw rocks into the river, though we had no shortage of floating refuse for targets. No one in their right mind swam or skied in the Tennessee River around Knoxville in the 1960s, but they do now.

A liberal-progressive friend of mine was amazed to learn that a conservative like me cares about the environment and our rivers. I told him I was recycling before was it was cool and invited him to come and pick up roadside trash with Becky and me. He looked at me as if I were insane. My problem is not environmental insensitivity, but the bureaucracy of a government (EPA) run amok. Our Tennessee River will never be the blue of deep water. However, with conservation efforts our river is no longer a dirty brown, but a healthy green. I don’t ski anymore, and I was never that fond of swimming, but I would not cringe to be in the river’s water today.

I’m not a big fan of coffee table books. A Seinfeld episode once centered around these books which I’m not sure are even popular anymore. A patient of mine afforded me an exception, a beautiful coffee table book called “Tennessee River, Sparkling Gem of the South.” The book by Ron Lowery features sequential aerial pictures of the Tennessee taken from an ultralight aircraft. It is a unique perspective for our unique river. The picture above is taken from the banks of the Tennessee River just above Chattanooga at the mouth of the Tennessee River gorge.

Unfortunately, another blue line is on my mind these days. For some time I’ve prayed for the men and women in blue who, like our soldiers, stand between us and anarchy. These professionals stand on protest lines and on the front lines. Colliding perspectives like tectonic plates intersect along fault lines as various groups confront each other across police lines. Why is anyone surprised that fireworks result or that police are blamed for societal woes and are assassinated in New York and Dallas? I’m not excusing officers who abuse the people or the blue uniform. There are bad actors in every profession. Like doctors and teachers, police and soldiers are held to a higher standard of conduct than others in society. There are even dishonest politicians and deceitful media types. I’m surprised there aren’t more abuses on either side given the inflammatory rhetoric that emanates from Washington.

Some deny the obvious, but we are again engaged in a civil war. The Dallas monster said he wanted to “kill white people and white cops.” Jesse Jackson said that “cops are the modern equivalent of the KKK.” The Black Lives Matter bunch, driven by the lie of “Hands up don’t shoot” (it never happened), even made Bernie Sanders and Hillary retract their statements that “all lives matter.” I guess they wanted to promote their victimhood and the class warfare of the New Black Panthers (the bunch Eric Holder refused to prosecute for voter intimidation and who want the territory of five southern states for their new country).

David Brown, the Dallas police chief, invited the BLM protesters to come off the picket line, file an application for the police department and he would put the recruits in their neighborhoods to be a part of the solution. We’ll see how that goes. The point remains, the police can’t protect us, especially since they are required to do so much more than keeping order.

Civilization depends on people following the rule of law. But how can we expect them to abide by the rule of law when the President ignores the Constitution, the former Secretary of State compromises national security and then lies to us all? Is it any wonder that many believe their government is corrupt when the FBI Director and the Justice Department refuse to prosecute Hillary Clinton for malfeasance? No wonder an outsider’s promise to “Make America Great Again” resonates with We The People.