"Do you believe that this culture will undergo a voluntary transformation to a sane and sustainable way of living?" When Derrick Jensen, an environmental activist, author, small farmer, teacher and philosopher asked thousands of people this question, the answers ranged from emphatic "No's" to derisive laughter. His next question was "For those of us who care about life on this planet, how will this understanding - that this culture won't voluntarily stop destroying the natural world, eliminating indigenous cultures, exploiting the poor and killing those who resist - shift our strategy and tactics?
The answer? "We don't know, because we don't talk about it, and we don't talk about it because we're all so busy pretending that, against all evidence, there will be some miraculous transformation."
I'm beginning to move past the stance of trying to get myself and others to cut back on the use of water and electricity, to recycle, eat sustainably, drive sparingly, to the realization that those measures, while necessary, are dealing with the effects of global warming - not dealing with the cause. I'm reminded of an example my pastor once gave, of someone being extremely busy fishing dead and wounded people out of the river as they float by and caring for them, but never questioning why so many people are in the river, "Who's throwing them in?" We are only dealing with the effects, not questioning the system. We must, I believe, stop taking Industrial Capitalism as a given, as something that must be preserved as we tackle the problems of today.
We may be working as hard as we can to protect the places we love using the tools of the system. Yet we do not do the most important thing of all: We do not question the need for the existence of this death culture. We fail to question the logic that leads to clearcuts, murdered oceans, loss of topsoil, dammed rivers, poisoned aquifers, global warming, and most of us certainly don't act to bring it down.
Derrick Jensen points out, "Those who inherit whatever's left of the world once this culture has been stopped - whether through peak oil, economic collapse, ecological collapse, or the efforts of women and men fighting in alliance with the natural world - are going to judge us by the health of the land base, because that's what's going to support them or not. They're not going to care how we lived our lives, how hard we tried. They're not going to care whether we were nonviolent or violent, whether we grieved the murder of the planet, if we were enlightened. They're not going to care what kind of excuses we had to not act. (e.g. "I'm too stressed to think about it," or "It's too big and scary," or "I'm too busy," or "But I recycled," or a thousand other excuses we've all heard too many times.) They're not going to care how simply we lived, how pure we were in thought and action. They're not going to care if we voted Democrat, Republican, Green, Libertarian, or not at all... They're going to care whether they can breathe the air and drink the water, whether the land can support them"
As the earth's weather patterns react violently, and unpredictably to our actions, or rather, inaction, are we waiting for FEMA to bail us out as we shake our heads in disbelief?
The CEO's and politicians running this deathly economy are trying their best to pit us against each other. If we are busy fighting each other we will be blind to the real cause of our downfall. Do we expect these officials to come up with the miraculous transformation we are looking for? That's like putting the fox in charge of the hen house. It is long past time we change the industrial infrastructure. We must be the miracle we are seeking.