When we tumble, will we fall?

I'm not ready for the tumble.

Close, but not quite there.

There is no crystal ball needed to say with a certain amount of confidence that great upheaval and instability are in our (near) future. There are just too many fronts in our war against self-sabotage.

Pick your poison...

We could get slapped back to the stone age at any moment, it takes only seconds to craft a short list of the man-made (and avoidable) blisters about to burst.

Over population, climate change, political revolution, untended nuclear weapons, mono-agriculture, peak oil, pollution. Then there are also the regular guarantee of earthquakes, tsunami's, influenza, blizzards, hurricanes, drought, wildfires and the ilk in the mix.

So every once in awhile I allow myself to fall into the paranoia of a survivalist and start down the checklist:
  • 3 months of food? Give or take.
  • 1 month of water or means to purify? Yes.
  • Medicine, antibiotics, and first aid? Yes.
  • Alternative local food sourcing? Yes.
  • Year around climate protection? Mostly.
  • Optomistic attitude should the lights go out? Nope.

And there it is, the final part of survival that most experts say is a necessity in order to get through the dark nights. Will we be "okay" when the lights go out, the gas stops flowing, and the grocery stores have empty shelves? How long until each community follows the Lord of the Flies into militant power struggles with only violent choices?

Can anything be done to prevent the fear from taking hold of us and choking the best and most gracious parts of humanity?

When the lights go out, when Marshall Law has taken effect and curfew been announced, when rice is rationed, water putrid and the courthouse quiet, then is the time find our courage, to open our doors, hearts, and minds to the truths that we belive to be most true. If we tumble will we fall, or will we stand for those things we value?




Should the shadow fall on us, take to the streets with banners and bells. Spread the word that we are not powerless. Share your bread and bread will be shared with you. Survival of the pack requires the pack. A community must commune.

Am I ready for the tumble? Yes.

The odds are on our side

For those who are the believers, the ones to carry the torch to light the way to a more just, sustainable, and compassionate society, it can, at times, seem to be a struggle already lost.

For instance...

Unlike the Presidential primaries where candidates are guaranteed the same amount of news coverage regardless of their qualifications, experience, or even their chances of being elected, the average mouth piece for industry has no constraint. This is how a relatively marginalized and certainly shrinking band of climate change deniers can huddle together for a "conference" and capture national headlines.

Even I am helping their "cause" by point out their tenuous existence, but I do so willingly and for a purpose.

This tribe of “stay the course” industrialists have some money, they are connected to Big Oil and Big Polluters. They employ their two PowerPoints and a microphone to spin talking points, make a few Ann Coulter style statements related to their hurt egos and lonely dance cards. It’s getting harder and harder to justify mass consumption and strip mining, though they press on. But alas, their moment in the climate light is brief and soon the banner will be taken down from the stage, the sages of silly will put away their Al Gore voodoo dolls and return to the warm glow of their computer monitors and conspiracy theories.

The green movement, or as I like to call it, the "lets save the species" crowd, has something to rail against for a week, which is good. Remember when Murphy Brown had a kid on TV and George Bush Sr. called her a tramp? Such stupidity from the POTUS actually helped create a brief, but thoughtful, national dialogue about single mothers, pride, and children. When Ellen came out of the closet and was protested, those screaming about the end of society were yawned at. The "event" did help with equal rights for all citizens because it brought attention back to the issue, if only for a few days. Japan is now killing whales for “science” (the science of digestion?) and their activities rekindle the dwindling flame of “Save the Whales”.

I celebrate the rantings of the deniers, they keep the fires of change alive.

The moral compass is a muscle that needs to be exercised on a regular basis. It is no different than the bicep or heart. If you go too long without flexing, stretching, and testing your conscious it will atrophy.

And really, who wants a flaccid soul?

Each block on the road to doing the right thing, the just thing, the moral thing, is an invitation to not only strengthen our resolve and hone our arguments about the growing threat of environmental instability, but also a chance to let the light of love shine through us individually.

These brief blasts from those who are personally closed and rigidly frozen in their dysfunctional fears should be seen as small opportunities to yet again commit to the cause of spiritual sustainability. When you meet someone who calls climate change “junk science” just remember that they are scared, afraid of change, unable to process the prospect of growth. If you encounter a person who says “Of course the climate is changing, it always changes, it’s a NATURAL process,” recognize that they are personalizing the guilt associated with over-consumption. They are the ones to pity the most, the ones that need the most compassion and understanding. Those that try to skirt the responsibility of our collective actions are the ones who deep inside actually see that we brought this upon ourselves, and they can’t handle the responsibility.

In their eyes we are blaming them for putting us and our children in harm’s way. This is not true, yet they can not see it. There is no blame for where we have been, only accountability for where we are and the challenge of being more thoughtful moving forward. It does not matter who spilled the oil, only that everyone agrees to clean it up and work to prevent spills in the future. No one person is singularly responsible, we are collectively liable.

The greatest threat to making the real change necessary to ensure a habitable and sustainable future for our species is not the rabble of finger-pointing deniers, but rather our own apathy. Divisive commentary will only create division, and halving our resources is something that we can ill afford to do. Now is the time to remain calm, loving, and confirmed in our ideals and beliefs. Those that are barking loudly today are helping awaken more and more people to the notion that the world is not a disposable juice box for us to suck every last bit of sugar out of then crumple and discard, but instead it is our vulnerable life raft.

Take heart, the odds favor the willing.

2008 – The year we almost paid attention

Our short attention span will most likely be the reason we miss this opportunity to do something about our rush to environmental instability.

The distractions are everywhere.

A little La Nina blusters through and climatologists predict a cooler than “normal” year. By cooler they mean that 2008 will still in the top 10 of hottest years on record, just not in the top five. But the headlines will grab our attention long enough for us to think the pressure has been relieved. Our happy thoughts saved the day! Long hot showers and round-trips to Disney for everyone! Why bother trying to fix something that doesn’t seem to be broken at all?

Then the economy tanks and suddenly a more pressing, more critical, more important issue is thrust upon us. Our consumption of disposable widgets and plastic play things must not be muffled. Don’t choke our American dream of closet organizers and wider screen televisions, not now, not when I was almost on the phone to order the home gym so that I could become the lean, trim, rippled, sex magnate I am. My ugly duckling complex remains intact until we get our rebate checks and someone sounds the all clear. There is no time to think about the millions who will starve, riot, revolt, and crush the weak in their dash for water, food, resources, and security, we need more salad shooters and we need them now!

Or will it be another attack, or maybe thwarted attack. A perceived thwarted attack on our homeland, or allies. That is if we can find any allies. The swords will rattle, our leaders will spin the air sirens and we’ll be told to be afraid. Shut out the light of reason with our blackout curtains, dive under the covers until the war wagons come rolling gently into your driveway to draft the children and pillage the pantry for supplies. “We must fight them there or we will surly fight them here,” they whisper as the machines siphon the last few drops of OPEC oil from your minivan. “It is an epic battle between good and evil,” they murmur and thumb through your wallet. “History will prove the ends justify these mean means,” is the last thing you hear as they blindfold and gag you. Better to not see the swindle nor voice opposition, you wouldn’t want to be confused with the enemy, would you? Even if we don’t swallow the bait this time, the noise will drone out all other concerns.

And when celebrity no longer holds our interest we conjure our entertainment from the political election drama. “Did you see the debates? Can you believe they said that? Doom to us all if they get the job!” We set these groomed puppets to do our business bidding like glossy farmers of genetically altered facts. Take the germ of an idea, heap a healthy dose of manure on it and watch it grow into a bean stock worthy of Jack. You can’t run on a single topic, you need many planks in your platform, you must please most of the people most of the time. So grab some old growth forest lumber and heat up the branding iron. Stamp one with “jobs” and another with “trade”, burn “Social Security” into one and then when you find gaping holes in your floor fill the gaps with “Support our troops”. That always works, just don’t look down, the water is rising.

I read in a book during my childhood that to catch a raccoon you simply have to drill a hole in a hollow log and drop in some shiny bobble. The animal will reach in to grab it and then not be able to fit its hand back out the hole. Supposedly the raccoon will just sit there not realizing it has only to let go of the prize in order to save its life. It doesn’t seem like we Americans are really that much different. We look for the next shiny mind candy, grab on and refuse to release it, even though we have the capacity to understand that when the lights go out, when the stores have been emptied, when the fuel stops flowing, the cops and hospitals don’t respond and tanks are rolling in front of grade schools to keep the peace that none of these distractions matter.

So is set the stage for 2008, the year when we had one last chance to make a difference, to surface as the nation that could lead the world to a better more just and sustainable footing. If you think this election is about the economy, imagine how valuable your beloved 401K will be when you are burning your kitchen table to boil your drinking water.

The Ethics of Green Commerce

There is something brewing in my mind concerning the "green" movement.

I use the term green to encompass all activities that could be considered sustainable to our species on this planet. Perhaps, I hope, we will also salvage our societies, norms, and traditions along the way. Is it possible that amidst the crush of overpopulation, pollution, and natural resource depletion we will find the sanity to stop our consumption and preserve our art?

Time will tell.

My concern, my question, is as we make a move to a more sustainable future, will we encourage our moral compass to follow suit? Will the new green enconomy be one that still dwells on profits soley or will we expand our ideas of business to be more inclusive of community and spirit?

Though it will require mega-corps to help mass distribute energy saving technologies like CFLs, and hybrd cars, we can not expect their interests to ever be far from stake holder profit margins. It is not their strength.

But we can expect more from the individual who decides when and with whom to share their personal wealth. If we want to shift the world into the new paradigm of responsibility I suggest that we begin with our own sphere of influence.

Buy local.

Buy less.

We are doomed to be the next Great Generation.

For my adult life I have been looking, with great expectation, for my call to action. Living in the twilight years of acceptable mass consumption painted my self-perceived place on this planet as nothing more than a lazy American.

In the 80’s, when I was cutting my consumer teeth, Japan was no longer a bad word in terms of cars and electronics. Everything started to get smaller, faster, and cheaper. Products made in China had yet to be questioned. The threat of being nuked was tolerable and the economy was booming. If it hadn’t been for AIDS and a few “We Are the World” guilt trips it might have been the 1950’s all over again, with more zippers and make-up. Our Cosby to their Leave it to Beaver.

At least that’s how it is described today.

Yet still the nagging call of activism kept leaving messages on my soul phone. With impotent frustration I read article after article about corporations plowing through sensitive and protected areas to claim their profit margin. What happened to the tuna? Where are the salmon? Who cut down the rain forest? When did public lands become private ventures? Why does the value of natural resources only merit standing in economic terms?

Then it happened. We were challenged with the obvious and inevitable, immutable law of the land.

Natural consequences.

Groups with a vested interest in wiping out the bison, razing the native grasses, or committing genocide on the indigenous populations will always, always, point to a patriotic justification for their actions, but in the end their arguments remain based upon economic self-serving goals, and not sustainable to the whole. They lobby for profit at a specific cost paid for by the oppressed, and anything that falls into fair market value, be it human, animal, or vista, is the oppressed.

Forget the deck chairs, these are the bastards who call for champagne from their first class seats in the lifeboats as the Titanic sinks. They are served with haste by the second class porters and politicians who settle for tips they won’t be able to spend.

The question is, who are we destined to be in this dance of destruction. Most likely we are not the ones who are reaping the large financial rewards from global exploitation. We in the United States are certainly the benefactors of cheaper cheap goods, but that is a modest offset compared to the vast sums of profits being made and reinvested in the same. So we turn out to simply be idle enablers. We neither complain about the trough of slop from which we dine, nor turn our nose up at the fare to forage for the more difficult, yet more nutritious, native plant.

But the unavoidable moral burden of reconciling a century of gluttony with a reality of starvation, disease, and war will sooner or later fall on our shoulders. The bill must always be paid, even after the Baccalaurean celebrations subside. When that times comes and we witness the collapse of artificial economies supported by our compulsive need to fill the void with disposable lighters and designer t-shirts, we will be left with two choices. Will we turn from the bevy of natural consequences our lifestyle has wrought or will we face the painful challenge of sacrifice with humility and compassion?

Will we throw walls around our tired and wild-eyed nation to try and save ourselves or will we acknowledge our complicity in the global strip mining of sustainability and extend our hand, share our bread, give our shirt, swallow our pride, and show compassion to any who need it?

Will we invade to claim more and more or will we curb our appetite and consume within our means?

My belief is that when the critical mass of resource exhaustion crests and we will fall in the looming shadow of the breaker we will chose sacrifice over style. We will no longer linger in the pleasant yet childish fantasy that status quo will prevail. We will assume the mantle of our abilities with grace and grim determination.

We are doomed to be the next Great Generation, we, the clutch of citizens who recognized a dire need within the realm of the greater good and accepted our task to amend. Already it has started, yet I fear that before we truly embrace our destiny as the culture that strived to return balance to the planet we will need to witness great imbalance.

It is not climate change.

It is not global warming.

It is environmental instability.

It is survival uncertainty.

It is spiritual sustainability.

Should we succeed in scaling back the drones of expansion and quieting our berserker lust for dominance, future children may erect a simple stone monument to honor our deeds. In hand-carved letters they will simply etch,

“The Geeks, Freaks, and Believers of 2000 were here, and they left the world a better place than they found it… finally.”