See the World as it Is

....(to be continued)

A NEW WORLD            

CHANGING DIRECTIONS and working toward a better world.

I dedicate this page to my mother, who has more of the Divine in her than most, a pure Light of Goodness. Thank you, Mom, for being that shining light in our lives. It will fall to us to carry that Light forward and never let it grow dim.


Read Jared Diamond's Collapse, it's all in there. Those who take care of their environment, continue. Those who abused it or could not adapt to its changes, are gone. The poorest begin to die, with wars for resources, for food, water, medicine, living space - and sooner or later an unchronicled apocalypse takes the rest. Too dramatic? Too far-fetched? It is a very small world now, the whole earth is our island garden, we are all co-dependent and interrelated. And the dying has already begun.

It's true it is still a beautiful world, but there are places, once lovely, that have been destroyed, and peoples who see no beauty at all in their lives.

To have a garden on this island, we have to take care of it! We must repair, not destroy. We must use less, or we will use it up. We must share and improve and cooperate, or be overrun, or kill and kill and be left to guard the graveyard, and become our own undertakers.


Everywhere one looks in the news, there is new evidence that the Earth’s resources are finite and our use and abuse of those resources are infinite. The days of reckoning are coming, unless we change our approach to one that seeks balance of give-and-take instead of take-take-take, seeks “enough” instead of “whatever I want”. Today’s example: No salmon fishing this year. Collect the articles!

Global warming is still being denied in some narrow circles, and those who deny it use their punditry to raise emotional hackles and feed the fear of giving in to fear, to disaster-theorists, as if planning for worst-case scenarios will bring them on or make them worse. Like with Katrina – where it could hardly have BEEN worse? Considering the important coastal cities and populations that would be inundated if those spouting denial litanies are wrong and the climate is actually getting warmer, it would seem the sensible approach is to prepare – JUST IN CASE! But that would require people to take some form of action, and the kinds of action that would help most would apparently hurt Big (Powerful) Business interests, so denial continues. They play on our American sense of Entitlement: we’re the best, with the best, we deserve the best. We deserve not to have to tighten our belts or do without. We deserve whatever we want. Right?

This arrogant attitude has sweeping significance for global health. It’s not just ourselves we hurt – in fact we hurt ourselves LAST. The very survival of some societies in this increasingly interdependent set of continents, islands, oceans and seas – and we have just the ONE set – is threatened by a combination of factors that affect available resources. Climate is HUGE.

There are two kinds of resources: Finite and sustainable. The finite resources run out as they are removed and used: coal, oil, mined metals and gems. And they WILL run out, sooner or later, logic says so - but the thought is so untenable that some refuse to accept even the possibility. Sustainable resources can last forever, if properly managed: growing things like trees, fish and wildlife. But they can and will (and have) run out if carelessly harvested, rather than carefully husbanded. The Native Americans and other indigenous populations had an intimate relationship with nature – they recognized that humans are part of it and dependent on it. So-called “modern” societies could learn a lot there.

The survival of a society depends, at bottom, on its access to resources to feed, shelter, and protect its members, so they can live healthy lives and reproduce. It is a very non-PC non-secret of the first world that many of its members do not CARE if third world peoples reproduce or perhaps don’t think they should if they can’t support themselves – but one reason they often are short of resources is because the fruits of their labor are being sent to the first world and the payment goes into business pockets, and they have no choice in either case. But they are NOT US, so does it really matter? Yes.

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The USA has a wealth of resources and we take for granted such things as clean water, fresh and plentiful groceries, access to medicine. These are resources in short supply, or completely unavailable, in some parts of the world. The fact that we have and they don’t doesn’t make us smarter, better, more deserving or more moral. We are just luckier – so far.

Drive less, walk more. Carpool or public transit. Bicycle. Stay home more! Wear a sweatshirt or your woolies instead of turning up the heat at home. Turn the computer, the TV and the lights off when you aren’t using them. Use only reusable (not disposable) products. These things probably won’t help the climate (although they could, if we all did it) but they make you feel better about yourself and save you money! Then find out who, in the business world, is making the effort to: Use “green” practices, contain methane, reuse generated heat and remove pollutants. (Good reference: the Solar Institute.) Then use their products and REFUSE to use the products of polluting and non-environmentally-aware companies. Write them LETTERS and tell them why. Write your representatives. Write your president. VOTE for those who uphold your views, and throw the rest of the bums out. 032606


Buy, grow, choose it with care. Food is not merely fuel, but culture. It’s in our art, songs, and literature. It’s in our memories – tastes, smells, sounds, visuals, and feelings. It’s in our souls, giving us shared experiences with family, friends, coworkers, and community. By taking charge of what goes on our plates and how it gets there, we begin taking charge of our lives.
  - Jim Hightower, “The Hightower Lowdown” Vol 8 no 03.


Darfur, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, China – these places seem far away and their often horrific living conditions have little to do with us – right? Haiti, Cuba and Mexico are closer, but still “other” and not related to our complacent culture of being the richest, having the newest and best, and using the most – or so we might think. Americans buy, or take, the resources from faraway places and feel we are entitled to do so, while thanks to global communication the citizens of those places know what we do, want what we have and may bitterly resent our usurious bargain with them.

We have unbelievable luxuries here. Clean water, stores filled with groceries, good working automobiles, fuel to travel and to heat our homes; not to mention fine wines and liquors, medicines and medical care and an infinite list of goods and opportunities unknown in many parts of the world. At a more basic level, we enjoy a greater sense of personal safety in our homes, businesses and travel than almost anywhere – in spite of news-making stories of criminal attacks and terrorists, their incidence is statistically very small. Would you trade with a person living in Haiti, with a family in Darfur, or, really, anywhere else?

Meanwhile the schizophrenic approach – the dual immorality – of decrying illegal immigration while requiring it (we need their cheap labor but don’t want to take care of them (educate, provide health care, etc.) and their families, while they are here; and the sending of jobs out of the country to find cheap labor there; are two sides of the same coin – and that coin fills the pockets of the CEO’s and stockholders of big corporations while they “downsize” or merge, and cut jobs of stateside workers. The rich remove to their mansions and gated communities and the working poor, unemployed and underclass swell the ranks of the homeless, and the prisons, and their desperation ferments into a bitter brew.

No matter how high we build the walls or how viciously barbed the fences, some of those who struggle to survive or just wish to live the good life they see on TV will find ways to breach the walls and fences - if not pleasantly and legally, then unpleasantly or illegally. Those of us on the rich side of the wall have two choices – hoard or share. The one begets resentment, violence and the spending of resources on weapons and barbed wire; the other allows education, cooperation and mutual responsibility for caring for each other and the world’s resources. I vote 'B'. 032506


A possible savior has entered the arena, someone with a new message that holds all of us within its sweep and includes all of us in its promise. Some think Mr. Obama is the pied piper, playing his hynotic pipe to lead the trusting children astray. I think he is the most inspiring individual to enter the publuc forum in my adult life. Let us help him live up to his promises - because it our country, after all. 060508

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