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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Why I'm marching tomorrow

En route to New York City.

Tomorrow is the People's Climate March. It does not exhilarate me that I will be walking with a huge throng of humanity with some dim hope that world leaders will take note and take steps to reverse the damage done and continuing to be done to the environment. If anything, I liken this to a funeral march for the human race and the other species we're destroying and have destroyed.

My feelings are conflicted at several different levels. An optimist by nature, I find my view of humanity grows dimmer over time. We fight over religion, politics, and bullshit. We put everything into the context of socio-economics or political might and never give a thought to the idea that nature really doesn't give a shit for our political parties or nonsensical religious leanings nor our mutual hatred for one another.

Do I think we're doomed? A not insignificant part of me feels that a large amount of the human family is bound for extinction and not unreasonably so. Our religions have not saved us and will not. Religion is by it's very nature exclusive, despite what adherents of this or that group may say. God may love each of His children infinitely, but his kids are dumber than dirt. They shit in their bed and blame the neighbors. My religion accepts everyone, they say, who accepts my savior, this text, that group of tenets; as for everyone else? They're just a bunch of poor saps who are to be pitied because they haven't found, and therefore cannot share in, this remarkable vision and bliss. I don't think Nature cares.

Or this conservative political party is all about maximizing profits, free enterprise, and making sure the rest of the country, if not the world, is on the same page. That other party wants to create a welfare state and hates freedom! Et cetera, ad nauseum. Again, I don't think Nature gives two shits.

Well, those people over there are kind of stupid. They might be nice, but they're awfully slow to adopt our ways. Someone needs to show them the right way to do things. Let's invade them and show them real civilization! At this point, I'd wipe humanity out with a tsunami. However, oddly, Nature isn't vengeful. We are the ones who want to mold the world, the universe into our image. And that comes at a cost.

We've known for decades that humanity is, has been at a tipping point. Look to the writings of Rachel Carson, John Muir, and others. Bucky Fuller extended a sliver of hope in his "Utopia or Oblivion"; he posited, in 1969, that we still had a sliver of time in which to transition from killingry and a fear-based approach to existence and relations to livingry and a longing-based approach out of a shared interest in survival. Fuller was much more optimistic than I.

The sad point is that the human race is stupid. I wish I could say that I'm not, but I am, too! My carbon footprint might be close to nil, but it hasn't always been nor will it always be. But it's not just that I'm thinking about. I'm thinking of how stupid I've been, how insensitive, how selfish, throughout my life. I might be less so now, but perhaps that's only in degree and kind. Our issues began when we prioritized the right of us over them, and by extension, me over you.

So give up any pretense by continuing down this path? I don't think so. Even if we are doomed by our myopia and retardation of species-size order, once we as individuals recognize that we can turn ourselves around (a literal revolution), then we have a moral imperative to share this with others that maybe there might be an alternative to the downward spiral and the possibility of freeing up space for others to grow and flourish where we will not or cannot.

At the same time, while living solely a "virtuous" (and I'm using the term in its original meaning; as with "te" in the Chinese "Tao te Ching", virtue connotes ability or power to do and implied in that we can append the phrase "what is appropriate") life is admirable, there is a genuine necessity to share with others and support others who need the support and who, in the face of monumental catastrophe will need it. I'm not marching because I think politicians and so-called leaders will do anything. I'm marching because solidarity may just help us survive in other ways, perhaps in even more critical ways that are not so easily defined or given to articulation.

If there are enough people engaged in a movement, a movement-toward or forward, to an aim, then there's a chance that others may be inspired to whatever degree to experiment and try it out. I say this warily, since we are stupid and because more often than not, we go to war or oppress one another when we start movements. Maybe it's better to just leave this at the level of a huge experiment in which maybe people will try to make room for alternatives to the usual group think that tends to overrun our foggy minds and confused hearts.

I'm not interested in a Buddhist solution, by the way. Buddhists can be just as thick, violent, and myopic as all others. I say this because I get called a Buddhist a lot and I suppose technically, I am one; however, I don't want to be an "-ist" of any stripe, nor do I want to represent a group, nor do I necessarily have a lot of use for institutions that privilege their perspective over others, and if you think Buddhists don't do that, think again. My note that Buddhists can be just as violent? Look at examples from Buddhist countries across their histories. Yes, this includes Tibet. If you're interested in contemporary history, look no farther than Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

I don't actually know that we have any solutions. Yes, yes, if we pray and meditate hard enough, God will supply the answer, but we've been aware of the answers for at least a century. Don't over-reproduce, don't put more stress on farmland than the ecosystem can sustain (not just in terms of monocultural agriculture, subsistence farming, but also planting and harvesting what is appropriate to the climate, soil, and regional environment and culture), don't dump poison into aquifers and waterways, don't fill the air with particulate matter lungs can't handle.



We say we didn't know any better. A load of bullshit, if there ever was one. Humans have exploited one another for as long as there have been humans. We've damaged each other and laid waste to land, water, and air throughout history and as the population has exploded, that damage has grown in kind and degree of intensity. And no, there never was a Golden Age of peace and prosperity in this world. We've had sequential permutations of oppression and exploitation since day two, most likely.

Why do I continue to see the best in others despite this? Because individually we aren't monolithically hopeless. I often hear from westerners how we should be more like traditional communities that have more communal based societies where the collective good is the supreme goal. This is simplistic and we've seen that the development of communities is no more a panacea than touting the supremacy of the individual over all. It misses out on the messiness that communities are groups of individuals who share a goal or set of values, beliefs, ideals.

Yes, a community may be mostly pacific, like a monastery. Or that same community may take up arms to forcibly convert others who don't share the same salvafic goal. I'm not against community, I just don't like automatic assertions that one approach fits all. It may be that if solutions are to be enacted to meet the myriad crises of climate change, a multifaceted and cross-disciplinary set of solutions will have to happen.

I'll be posting more throughout the next couple of days on this blog, on Facebook. I'll be publishing pictures from the march and references people can use as food for thought.



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