My daughter-in-law has been fund-raising on behalf of the public school my granddaughter attends in Rancho Penasquitos, a moderately affluent town twenty miles north of downtown San Diego. Perhaps she doesn’t mind having to raise money for art, music, and classroom supplies; after all, her child’s education is among her highest concerns. Or, perhaps she does mind, given that she and my son have already paid dearly into a system that is supposed to provide free education, a system that, regardless, places a higher value on the military machine than on her children’s education—$1,164,513,049,451 and climbing spent on wars since 2001 (this number will be obsolete by the time you read this).
One trillion-plus dollars spent on destruction. That’s who we are. But that’s okay—the more mothers we can enlist to pitch in and take up the slack in our schools (habituating service), the sooner we can privatize all the public schools and devote more financial resources to the main goal, which is, apparently, to turn America into a neo-feudal, corporate wet-dream of everlasting war and broken government, that is, paradise for millionaires and billionaires, while the scruffy stray dog the Commons has become wanders about searching for scraps...
Oh “gloom and doom!” Let’s not think about it! After all, we’ve already thought about it —irrational wars, our warming the planet to the point of no-return, the corporate coup d’etat of America— and come to realize we’re screwed. Time to “eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may die,” or at least check our horoscope to discover we “may feel a little down today or low on energy. We may feel that we have hit some kind of creative road block, that we have suddenly turned invisible...” Or, perhaps we will poke somebody on Facebook, hoping for a poke back (Nobody ever pokes me, sigh.). Or we can write a blog post that nobody will read. That’s always useful.
Nobody wants to think about it? Not quite. Not all are ignoring reality; some are giving our situation a serious look and taking action. I happen to like Chris Hedges’ take on the subject in “Death of the Liberal Class,” for example. He has helped me to see what this denial is all about, and where we might be headed if we don’t get out of it, the denial, that is.
This morning UCTV aired a lecture by ecofeminist Professor of Environmental History, Philosophy, and Ethics at Berkeley, Carolyn Merchant. This lecture was entitled, Environmentalism: From the Control of Nature to Partnership. There, she traced the history of science from the Renaissance, with its Earth-as-a-Living-Organism world view; through Francis Bacon’s view of Earth as a female that man can shape and have power and dominion over; through Newton and the Industrial Revolution, where the view of nature went from “organism to machine.” Okay, so now we know how well that philosophy worked out, or is working out, still expressed by corporations that continue to operate in that unenlightened mode. They still act as if nature is something they can control via technology, in a mechanistic way. It’s nuts, but that’s who they are.
Fortunately, we can now say, “Whoa boys and girls, there’s new science to consider!” Namely, the “Butterfly Effect” in “Chaos Theory,” which I don’t pretend to understand, but which, according to Merchant, has given us a chance to “re-think our relation to the natural world.” One definition gives us this to consider: “Chaos Theory claims that as complexity increases in a system, its predictability decreases.” Think about that—Man, you don’t get to control stuff anymore. You’re weak and pathetic compared to Mother Nature.
So, suddenly, just in time —we hope— we have reason to tell people to give up the folly that we can do as we please with the planet, because some technological fix will save us. Science itself is telling us to forget that and start living “in partnership” with the Earth (Merchant’s vision). Well, isn’t that quaint? It took the Men, and Women, of Science in the industrialized realm this long to come to a realization indigenous peoples have understood from the start. Verrry schmaaat...but schtoopid!
It does seem to me, though, that not enough people are up to speed with the new vision. Many still think we can continue living as we do—continue burning carbon for fuel, sprawling across the urban landscape, importing food from far-away places, subsidizing the oil industry, failing to develop green technologies and failing to adopt earth-friendly options such as vegetarianism, etc., etc., etc. But how is a change of world view to be accomplished on a mass scale, when there’s so little time? We have known we are in trouble for decades. Jimmy Carter tried to tell us back in 1979, when he proposed that 20 percent of our energy should come from solar power by the year 2000:
“To further conserve energy, I'm proposing tonight an extra $10 billion over the next decade to strengthen our public transportation systems. And I'm asking you for your good and for your nation's security to take no unnecessary trips, to use carpools or public transportation whenever you can, to park your car one extra day per week, to obey the speed limit, and to set your thermostats to save fuel. Every act of energy conservation like this is more than just common sense -- I tell you it is an act of patriotism.”
But here we are thirty-two years later, and we haven’t budged more than an inch toward an energy program that would not only be sustainable from a consumer standpoint, but would be sustainable from a world peace and Earth-healthy standpoint, even though we are facing ecological and environmental catastrophes, world-wide, everywhere we look.
Thirty-two years. Do we have thirty-two years to waste, fiddling our thumbs, waiting for the corporate media to stop propagandizing on behalf of the oil industry? Do we have thirty-two years, while Japan fries (apparently global warming ='s earthquakes), Russia burns, the Arctic melts, bees die and disappear, corals fade and die?
Maybe if we hold a bake sale in every town. I can see it now...a sugar-cookie walrus hanging onto one tiny bit of white frosting on a sea-blue cake...
Naw...that’s not going to do the trick.
In Wisconsin this week, a protester’s sign read, “You screw us—we multiply!” What we need is the spirit of Wisconsin to multiply across the country in a tsunami of citizen democracy the likes of which no corporate criminal has ever seen. Wouldn’t that be something, something great for worker rights, for unions and the middle class. But notice how silent we are on global warming. Somehow it looks like only when a real tsunami of global disasters begins to affect all of us, including the Koch brothers of this world, only then will we humans get the message. I hate to annoy you with the truth, but by then it’s going to be too late.
Perhaps we need to hold hearings on the pernicious ideology of “free” market capitalism/empire, rather than the one being held this week on Islamic extremist ideology? Just a thought.
In the meantime, don’t feed the corporate beasts. They get fat and arrogant. Put your money in a credit union. Wear up-cycled clothes. If you can’t grow your own veggies, go vegetarian. Buy organic. Buy local. Buy American made products. Car pool. Vote progressive.
Any other ideas? I'm just a little bit worried for those grandchildren I love so much.