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.”

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