Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Disturb and engage yourself

Warning this post is disturbing and insensitive in that it exposes the oft-unsaid sentiment of many people that I know

OK, so I’ve had some pretty disheartening things happen to me in my lifetime (rehab, divorce, debt, dead dogs, etc.) but two days before Christmas I had the pleasure of being given the auditory equivalent of a carefully planted weapon of mass deception subversively plopped right in my own lap by none other than a close family member. I have been flirting with the idea of putting pen to paper, or is that keyboard to memory, on my reflections of ideological and unstated premises of close friends and family members with whom I vehemently disagree but have kept my mouth shut in the spirit of harmony. Well this last conversation really just lit the proverbial match under my ass and here I am for your literary pleasure. Below is a collection of sentiment I have heard often uttered under ones breath or in the safe confines of ones home surrounded by others who share your view or at least would never have the audacity to say something contrary to your opinion. But hey guys you forgot one thing, I was there and I heard you and now I want to engage you. It may sting a little at first but in the end I think we will all be the better for our endeavors.

Now I expect that the majority of the citizenry of United States, or any country for that matter, however an unfortunate statement of humanity it may be is relatively unconcerned with politics, personal civic responsibility or major world events. I mean who cares about those Muslims in Iraq? Lets just bomb all those sand niggers…right? Kill em’ all and let god sort them out. After all they let Saddam Hussein become their leader and you know we (the US) came in to liberate their sorry asses….right? I can't believe that you could possibly expect me to believe that the US went there for the oil. They shouldn’t have been harboring terrorists. They should be thankful and yet all they can do is fight each other to undermine all of the goodwill that the US military has sent. Global warming?….come on, it is just some plot to scare us. The earth has always had cycles and we are just in an upswing. It is just stupid to think that man could have a hand in global warming through our own actions. I mean cows are more responsible than humans with their methane gas. I’ll wait till the government tells me that something is wrong and then I’ll worry about it. Besides why should I worry when an asteroid could come along and wipe us out at any moment. I just want to have a good time in life and live a “normal” life like everybody else. Peak oil?….I bet that is just a ploy to charge us higher prices so that energy companies can rake in the profits. It sure does serve their interests. The earth is not a finite resource, it has and always will provide humanity with everything that it needs. People in the third world making my tennis shoes for pennies a day…..fuck em’. Most people are poor because they are lazy. If they would just get off their asses and work then they could succeed like everybody else.

Yes most people are more concerned with shopping at the mall, getting a fake tan, just trying to have fun in life, apathetically disengaging from reality in video games, buying lattes from Starbucks or just plain trying to get by on minimum wage to worry about what some talking heads in the government are doing or saying. I mean they are in charge so let them do their jobs and don’t question or critique their performance. We all know that those in charge always have peoples best interests in mind and will always act to ensure that the publics best interests are kept at the forefront.

The preceding paragraphs were meant to be sarcastic and snide. They were also meant to disturb some and engage you. Disturb some in that there are actually people with these convictions and engage people with those convictions as to why some people might be disturbed. Got it….good. Where do I start? Over the next couple of days I intend to expand on a few of these ideological issues and lay out how I view the world and how I view our collective responsibility as members of the human race to engage these issues. I hope to challenge a few assumptions and instigate dialogue with those in my life so that we can seek truth and come to a better understanding of each other and hopefully reach a more enlightened level of consciousness.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

What's stopping you?

Comment from one of my best friends on my holiday reflections:
I better not ever see you putting a disposable diaper on Lily, throwing away a recyclable bottle or can, tossing a newspaper in the trash, getting plastic instead of paper bags, or even turning on a light switch during the day - you wasteful shit-talking bastard.......make sure your sorry ass is practicing what you so incessantly & repetitiously (almost offensively) cannot stop preaching.
D-Truck's response:

I know that you are half joking when you call me a wasteful shit talking bastard but I think you are missing the point. I looked up "preach" in the dictionary because you used it in a derogatory sense. I am guessing that you mean that I don't practice what I preach. It means: to advocate; especially acceptance of or compliance with something. The definition makes no mention of the persons motive or if the person is in compliance with that which he/she is advocating. Therefore I will agree with your use of the verbage. However, I get the feeling that you implied "hypocritically preach" and I take exception to that.
Perfection is an impossible state of existance (although Anna Kournakova is pretty close), so perfection should not be a required qualification for condeming human wastefulness and its effects on the planet. Have I been wasteful in the past? Yes. Are there things I can do better now? Hell yes. Am I better because I'm more conscious? That's a subjective question that would get different answers depending on who you ask. If you ask someone in the future say 100 years about whether someone who conserved was better than someone who didn't then you might get a different answer from asking someone who drives a Hummer today. Should I just say fuck it cause I can't be perfect? Hell no.

Humans consume things by virtue of our existence that is just reality. The challenge is how to minimize the harmful things we do and maximize the positive benefits for future generations of humans. Is the world better off with Polar Bears and Ice Caps. I would argue yes. Has the world always had polar bears and Ice caps? Most definite
ly no. The difference is that those changes took place on geological timescales that allowed adaptation to occur while preserving diversity of life. None of us are perfect and there is nobody keeping score of who has recycled more or tread the lightest on the planet. Except for the most egregious instances of wastefulness, I could care less about things I have no control over. I do have control over what I do and how I communicate my value system to others. The point is that with 6.5 billion people on the planet and 9 expected by 2030 (logarithmic growth) we (meaning all of us) have to rethink about the planet as a finite resource and not a dumping ground. By planet I mean inclusive of humans as in we are part of it. Lets not forget that mankind is a part of and depends on nature (food, water, air). Ultimately, the planet will live on and what animals are left will adapt and Earth will be like the multitude of other desolate planets known to mankind.

So what do you want Chalmers? If global warming and the peaking of global oil supplies aren't the wake up call then what will it take? I'm guessing that things just aren't bad enough yet. Don't forget that you and I have a very narrow perspective within which to view the world and "How bad it is". Most of the world lives in abject poverty through no fault of their own other then where they happened to be born. So now the ball is in your court? What is your responsibility in this? What can you do better? There are ceratinly no shortages of ideas just shortages of people willing to give them a try.

You know I love ya man its just that it is time to start wak
ing up (no judgements or elitism) and modifying our behaviours to fit the circumstances. I'm sure you understand risk management. There is a severity part to the equation and a probability part to the equation. The more I read the higher the probability keeps going up of unprecidented changes to how we will live in the future and it ain't pretty. It is not a fun message and nobody likes to be told the party is over but maybe the party is killing us.

Holiday Inspiration and Reflection

The end of the year is a time for reflections on the past and hope for the future. As we wind down the 2006-year, I would like to reflect on a few events and point out some opportunities for the future. In a world with growing population and diminishing resources, it is imperative now more than ever to work together collectively as neighbors and nations. How we collectively cope will be solely dependent upon how we come together as a community. The environment, global climate change, geopolitics, social justice and economics are all issues that will require us to rethink the way we have dealt with issues in the past. And they challenge us to find a new path forward for social and national cohesion in the future. We can start living more compassionately with each other and in relationship to the planet. We need to begin challenging the way we think about energy, the environment and social justice and look squarely in the mirror at our own responsibility to save resources for future generations. We can't continue with "business as usual" a simple scan of the newspapers and headlines let us know that every day. Perhaps we need to modify our economic system to reflect the natural rhythms of the earth as a finite system. Together we can develop more enlightened goals. More enlightened than increasing consumption and most importantly we must challenge the assumption that we need ever increasing amounts of energy to meet human needs and provide happiness. Perhaps we can live happy lives consuming less, perhaps, because we consume less.
As we enter this season of giving, think about what the basis of giving really is. It is the acknowledgement that someone is worth our time and attention and not the sound of change in the cash register. The greatest challenge of all is to seek out the opportunity that is before us and to seek truth, promote peace and reduce the footprint we are leaving other travelers not yet set foot on the path of life. Only when we decide as individuals to change our lifestyles and only when we decide as society to change the policies at the international, national and local levels can we begin to make a difference. We can no longer wait for others to make these changes for us, action starts from within. We must act now when we can look objectively at these issues when we can balance the trade-offs of energy, environment and justice and not later when the stakes are higher.
You ask "what can I do, the problems are too big?" and I suggest that the answer is not as difficult as you might imagine. Simple acts such as bicycling, driving less, eating locally produced food, voting with your dollar, using less energy, getting involved with your community and questioning your assumptions all require very little effort on our part. Progress and not perfection should be our goal. The vastness of the world's problems do not invalidate responsibility on a personal level. What we need now is leadership from within. We can no longer wait for others to do it. Time may be our scarcest resource of all.
It is critical that we ourselves become the models of the kinds of lifestyles needed. The younger generation is inheriting a world much different the one our parents inherited from theirs. We are inheriting a world of declining resources and ecological demise so we must accept that we will not live lives like our parents, lives of material abundance, luxury, comfort and waste. One not based on consuming increasing amounts of resources. And how we respond to these challenges will not only determine the fate of future generations but the fate of human species itself. How we respond will determine both the amounts and the kinds of resources future generations will have. How we responds will determine the kinds of environment they live in and what kind of lives they lead.
This holiday season I challenge each of you to reconsider our current path as a society and choose another that will lead to a habitable, sustainable and healthy world. In face of the tremendous challenges before us there is much reason for hope. Now is the time for personal accountability. Start small and keep working at it, spread the word, challenge antiquated assumptions and always look to future generations. Enjoy family and friends this holiday and think about what it is deepest down inside that gives you happiness in life and embrace it. I guarantee you that it doesn't come from Wal-Mart. Amidst dire predictions, forecasts and statistics we must not despair for despair leads to apathy and inaction. Remember that there is always hope because it is not possible to know what is possible.

I wish you a happy holiday season and a jolly new year,