"Forty years ago the position of scientific studies was not so firmly established as it is today, and a conflict was necessary to secure their general recognition.The forces of obscurantism and free and easy dogmatism were arrayed against them; and, just as in former centuries astronomy, and in more recent times geology, so in our time biology has had to offer a harsh and fighting front lest its progress be impeded by the hostility born of preconceived opinions, and by the bigotry of self-appointed guardians of conservative views." (1)
Now, about a hundred years later we are in an even more serious debacle, the refusal of our authoritarian top leaders to take "scientific studies" seriously. It's more tragic this time; not only a clash of ideologies, but a clash of our own future on this planet, our only home. What kind of earth will we and our children and grandchildren try to survive in? It's already obvious, depleted energy sources inextricably wound up in the incredibly stupid endeavor to solve the whole shebang by ever more clever technology, a technology guided by free market short-term profits in an unregulated economy. This will do nothing for us and for the dwindling habitats of many, many species that share this earth with us.
What is the solution ? Cutting way back on our foolish demand for ever more unnecessary stuff. That does not mean that we have near-perfect view of what our wanton destructiveness will bring in the near future. A humility in facing the future is badly needed. We can't go on and on taking the "feel good" lies from political opportunists and buying our way to paradise.
In the agonizing long months of political maneuverings from presidential candidates and their advisors, the state of the earth has barely been mentioned. This is the tragedy facing us; we are being sucked into a devastating denial.
Isn't it enough to look around, notice how insecure we are? Isn't it a bloody shame how we bring war to other nations as part of our denial of reality? Remember the slogan shouted over and over again during the Vietnam protest days? Or doesn't your memory stretch that far? No wonder, the people in charge of our lives do not like to look back. They refuse to tell us about recent, and even remote past struggles and consequences. Oh no, that might feed more insecurity and unhappiness among us ordinary folks, reducing trips to the mall. Okay, here's that chant from many a peace march way back in the sixties and seventies:
LBJ. LBJ. HOW MANY KIDS DID YOU KILL TODAY ?
Agent Orange (they didn't dare show the poisonous chemical formula) sprayed on forests in Vietnam. Soldiers on both sides and workers on the land and babies still in the womb were affected, for life. So, here we are again, our president and his careless and uncaring crew killing people. Yes, people. For what purpose? To show the flag? To show those colors don't run ? For oil and world dominance? Meanwhile, reality haunts us. Last night a military man sang God Bless America to cheering crowds at the fourth game of the World Series that was adorned with ads, some of them obscuring the crucial pitching and batting struggles. Car ads, gobblers of oil and gas. twenty three mpg, is that something to brag about ?
Comment from Flossy Powell, a valiant peace activist:
"But Sarah McPain doesn't believe that the problem is man made--it isn't mentioned in The Book, afterall. Do not comfuse her with facts. Many folks still think the whole shebang is just part of natural fluctuations and patterns that have repeated over and over all through the life of the earth. Yeah, and T-Rex (and whatever species were on top when the comet/meteor/black hole whacked Earth) thought she was top of the evolutionary tree, too, way too important to fall prey to the weather, so important that she was no longer part of the system. Can you say Katrina? I wonder what T-Rex she prayed to? Hmmm." (2)
"Light from above?" Where did we first catch hold of the idea that we are especially favored by that light? Long time ago. We desperately need to know the truth about what we have actually in fact done to other people on this huge stretch of land we call the United States of America. But, to repeat, we are not given reality by our leaders , by our TV, by our newspapers. However, in today's USA Today, a minister speaks out.
"As a minister I'm mindful that most Americans are citizens of two kingdoms. They're loyal Americans, they're also people of faith. Thus their patriotism is tempered by loyalty to a God who transcends all national and international boundaries--whose precinct is the universe.
"My father who was a Baptist deacon as well as a World War II veteran . . . taught me that true patriotism is not a contest to see who can fly the biggest flag. True patriotism exists where citizens love their country enough to hold it accountable. That means making certain that the president we have elected and the government we have created live up to the words of our creeds and the dreams of poets and prophets." (3)
Well, we Zephyr readers owe special allegiance to habitats and animals and our precise place on this earth that looks pretty damned dark right now. Let's look at a partial list of the damages our way of life has created:
l. Denial of climate change, reliance on technology instead of our own will to take the bull by the horns and make REAL changes in our "life style."
2. Denial of tundra softening, releasing unpredicted green house gases.
3. Removal of mountain tops in eastern coal country, removal of sage/grasslands in western coal country.
4. Department of the Interior full of scandals, including accepting gifts from corporate lobbyists, but its biggest scandal is deliberate withholding of generous habitats for the other species among which we live, whether we know it or not.
5. Glaciers melting, placing cold water on top of salt water threatening huge ocean currents such as the Gulf Stream.
6. Air, water, atmosphere and soils poisoned, not only by greenhouse gases, but by a host of relatively new species of chemicals, most of them unregulated,
7. Oceans turning acid.
8. Kyoto accords woefully inadequate when judged by recent scientific data and conclusions.
9. Science thoroughly politicised.
10. Tragic waste of oil and gas by wars and by lifestyles that demand every household have wheels, if for nothing else, to drive to work.
We know all of that don't we ? And yet, once more we Americans voted for what each of us considered the lesser of two evils, Obama or McCain. In BlackCommentator.com we have a valuable reminder:
"Long time Black political activist, Ralph Poynter, and comrade, recently reminded me of the timely and timeless paraphrased words of the late and renowned writer and activist, James Baldwin, who said: 'There is no such thing as the lesser of two evils. You either vote for what you want or for somebody else's program'
"The Democratic and Republican Parties are both equally unacceptable, and Barack Obama is not the lesser of two evils. He is an integral and systemic part of the Republicrat's cruel sham meant to maintain and perpetuate repression at home and U.S. Empire abroad." (4)
When a new president takes office he will be at the mercy of "the way things are," namely corporate demands based on the terribly flawed theory that "What's good for General Motors is good for the country." At an anti-war protest two weeks ago I told a colleague that I would vote for Cynthia McKinney.
He said, "Who?"
I gave him a brief sampling of her platform.
He said, "She can't win."
Hey, that's not the point. Our only hope as we move into truly tragic times is People Power, a power that can face and reverse the strangle hold on our history, our traditions, our very lives. It's time to look back, to our traditions powered by ordinary citizens, to insure that we honor by bold words and effective action the words of Abe Lincoln at Gettysburg, ". . . of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."
I have posted in this space a few lines of a poem by a consciencious objecter, William Stafford, who looked into the present and how it foretold fragments of the future. I post it again, the entire poem this time. (5)
The Daily Shoot-out for Tourists in the Square in Jackson Wyoming
"It's more serious now, the encounter
on Main Street and the pretended shoot-out.
It means more today, the pink-gartered women
riding the stage past admiring children who
wait the mock hanging and the sprawled
gunman slid to the roof edge playing dead.
What got away?
Was it something the women once
behind their men, but what put curtains
by the front windw? And whatever it is
that sends back deep for supplies more
precious than food, before winter ?
Now there's a little flaw in the wagons,
the music, the whiskey.
Now it is the birdcall every evening saying
"Why?" It is the coyotes ignoring what people
are doing in town. It is the brief, silent
glow in the clouds found for a moment then
lost when the crowd looks down, surging
into their history, rejoicing in the dust.
It is more serious now."
1. Oliver Lodge, intro. to Thomas Henry Huxley, Man's Place in Nture and Other Essays. 1906, E.P.Dutton.
2.Flossy Powell, e-mail to fellow activists, Oct. 17, 2008.
3. Ungodly hubris, USA Today, Oct. 27,
2008. (Oliver Thomas . . . author of 10 things your minister wants to tell you (but can't because he needs the job).
4.BlackkCommentator.com "At BC, we firmly believe that it is through discussion and debate of divergent opinions that we gain in understanding, and therefore may be brought closer together - not that we will come to speak with one voice on every issue, but will grow in our critical thinking.
5.William Stafford, Wyoming. April, 1985, Ampersand Press.