(This article was originally published in the Inconsequential).
The United States is an immigrant nation from its inception. While founded in 1776 on solid democratic and human rights principles, these values have only ever been partially executed. The group that enjoyed these rights in full was initially white male European immigrants with property. African American, women and immigrant rights have slowly strengthened as the U.S. economy has developed, but it has been a long and arduous struggle–for some groups more than others. A great source of national shame, the United States government, since its founding, felt driven to annihilate the indigenous Native American population in order to become a successful nation. In consequence, we have inherited a deeply engrained psychic inability to learn from new sources (or in the case of Native American Indians, old sources) from an ecological standpoint.
Keeping in mind the impact of our Western heredity is just one of countless possible drivers regarding how our future will unfold. on a thought plane: travel to India or Japan (for example) to consider the possibility that karmic retribution is alive and well as an “energy” force among human interaction worldwide. Before getting stuck oin what “we are going to get what’s coming” might look like, throw in a reincarnation curveball: out of the around 313.9 million Americans alive today, if reincarnation operated on a geographical, versus ancestral plane, then about 99% of us used to be a member of the North American indigenous human population or an animal (dolphin, frog, wolf..) or a plant (tulip, water lily, willow tree…) at an earlier point in our evolution.
For instance, who I might have been in 1068 A.D.:
If we can embrace the possibility we descend geographically from a vast array of creatures and species, as well as depend on our value systems as good Christians, Jews, Muslims, atheists, etc.—it might help us gather the momentum to join the alternative energy race with the enthusiasm it deserves.
Just as the environmental crisis is global, imperialism is not an American spun tale by any means. Human migration began with the homo sapiens leaving Africa to
colonize the world, according to the Smithsonian, 77,000-80,000 years ago and there it began…Human history is full of defining moments of imperialism leading to colonialism, exploitation and the slaughter of the innocent. Perhaps Germany’s will to advance as current world leader utilizing renewable energies in the day to day can be explained on some level as Rebecca Solnit put it in the Huffington Post: “maybe because Germans know better than us that things can change for the worse or the better fast, that the world is not a stable and settled place, and that we do shape it, they have been willing to change.” Germany’s current problems in its advanced stage of using renewable energy are just that –problems at an advanced stage. Trial and error is a part of any worthwhile endeavor, drudgery and setbacks expected.
A key departure for those of us alive today with the homo sapiens living 80,000 or so years ago is that we have run out of places to discover or migrate to unless parallel universes unfold for our viewing or another planet becomes inhabitable. For those of us who anticipate being here awhile, there is the question of waste –waste of resources, waste of time – how much faster or more powerful do we need current electronic technology to download or communicate or surveil? Does it help our lives to build robots to drive our cars or cook our food for us? The light bulb was developed in the 1800s. It is still an essential resource, but it won’t ever need to get brighter than it is. To want to work to make a light bulbs brighter than it is today is a sign of madness.
To make the industrial transition that climate change points to, energy production will have to operate as multifaceted. National economies that profit on the fossil fuel industry’s continued success are in the position financially to be the first wave to invest in developing energy alternatives through practical application. Corrupt officials, business leaders and media affiliates who reap monetary profit from fossil fuels, and spin information to deem new industry as unwelcome, betray the public trust. Same rebuke to environmentalists who exaggerate (though more understandably) their knowledge base, although to be fair that they work outside of the establishment makes it more understandable. Oil and gas production has its merits. The question is how to scale its use down in a sane and reasonable manner while alternatives scale up. An honest dialogue needs to be waged including governments, scientists, environmentalists and business leaders to determine the right course of action to ensure a sustainable mix of energy resources is determined.
There are happy endings to envision. America could transform into a defending nation led by our elected President, her or his administration, and Congress, working with business and community leaders in collusion with the rest of us living here. What is necessary is to develop collectively the ability to put into motion systems that work together, but that compete as well, and not strive for energy operations to lead to any type of definitive merger because one dimensional systems are easier to analyze than two or three dimensional systems. Environmentalist activists and a national military as bedfellows, for instance, is hard to fathom since war includes destruction of the material world, but they have preservation of national interests on a geographical plane in common. Military expansionism in its execution rarely, if ever, thrives on the desire to expand coexistence –sharing land, resources, learning from each other’s cultures and traditions; however, war is considered justified if it leads to improved human rights conditions as its outcome. Modern times demand improved environmental conditions a part of the success quotient of war as well.
Whether or not you believe scientists are right about global warming, all evidence points to the necessary repair of depleted forests and oceans across the planet in order for humans to remain here. It seems inevitable that worldwide cooperation will be necessary to lead to the invention and replication of modern cities that operate successfully utilizing diversified energy sources. Another obstacle not to be dismissed is the grim reality that our species has run out of land to explore and exploit. It is hard to imagine part of the solution doesn’t include a continual decrease in the human population to let nature grow back (so we can conquer it all over again). Who would want to orchestrate what would need to make happen though?
What also seems unique about our time is that the planet’s decay is perfectly analogous to human aging at the end stage of life—is there any other point in history this was true? The approach to life of the ancient Toltecs that life is a dream seems particularly relevant to ethical challenges manifest in the 21st century. If life’s villains and heroes, and all those in between, represent an aspect of our psyches while dreaming, the challenge is to domesticate the dream enough to keep it active, i.e., remain alive, and yet tread along the awake plane as lightly as possible, since too literal an affiliation with events—including events too much to our advantage –causes pain and suffering to the characters presentinvolved, who, whether we love them or hate them, make up an aspect of our inner life; if they suffer, we suffer, so it follows we suffer with them. There will always be the need to weigh where our deepest commitments should remain and where we should help progress along by the breaking of old agreements in order to evolve the dream into a new freer dream.
Scene from the People’s Climate March on 59th Street runs and Central Park South, New York City, on 9/21/14 ( 300,000+ in attendance to demand global action coinciding with the United Nations Climate Summit 2014 held the next day.
Copyright Heather Waters 2014
Ladybug Photo Copyright Roberto Busto 2014