Dedicated to my memory of Thich Quang Duc

It’s relatively easy to get all fired up about the blatant abominations of a given administration. It’s quite another thing for concerned citizens to look in the mirror, and get down with a proper take of their own inappropriate behavior. Our habits that are fouling us up as much as Fukushima.

The latest revelations out of the University of California at Davis demonstrate what we’re up against when we take an honest look into ourselves, our lifestyles, what we’re going to have to do above and beyond protesting The Obvious High Profile Villains Out There.

“Synthetic Clothes May Be Polluting San Francisco Bay” is not the most spot on title for the article (link) I’ve inserted directly above. The word “May” is misleading, for there’s no question whatsoever that synthetic clothes ARE polluting San Francisco Bay. And not only that bay, but many other waterways.

“There is no cheap, easy way to get rid of millions and millions of micro-particles.” Yes, true. But to do so at all — inexpensively or not, with difficulty or ease — demands that a discussion take place focused on this little talked about business. [Pause.] Actually, it would be more accurate to say, “this business which is not addressed at all.” For our collective (very much in vogue) habit of purchasing (and washing and disposing of) clothes full of damaging components is not on the table for talk of any kind. The proverbial “plate” is full, as they say.

Most talk is centered on The Abstract Big Picture; John Foran’s recent article is an excellent example by a well-meaning, highly educated and deeply experienced soul providing decent advice, but recommending action on too general a level. The starting point must be with internal introspection, a very concerted effort to determine what in our daily lives is going to have to change radically in order to bring about the radical transformation of society that Foran and many others are telling us must be tackled post haste. What Martin Luther King pleaded for over half-a-century ago (with me and my students in attendance) at Riverside Church in New York City.

The intentions of the groups cited in Professor Foran’s profile at the end of the article are worth commenting on also. I do not mean to be offensive when I offer up my criticism here. Rather, I applaud the efforts and accomplishments of the organizations he is associated with. What is ignored, however, is the fact that ALL of the non-profits he lists — along with their counterparts nationwide, worldwide — are engaged in addressing our collective crises from a distance. Meaning, they are not asking their members to radically transform themselves. [That, of course, in many cases, would interfere with fund raising.]

This goes far beyond the mantra, “Be the change you seek.” That injunction is too cavalierly bandied about these days. It’s not that Gandhi’s advice on that score should not be honored. Rather, I’m saying that it cannot be honored without a severely difficult internal struggle taking place simultaneously. And when I say, “severely difficult internal struggle”… well, I’m not referring to the dynamics that folks usually go through in 12-Step Programs. I’m talking about dealing with our Ground of Being for the very first time. What we have chosen not to look at to date.

This is kind of like asking someone to do more than switch from one brand of toothpaste to another. It’s more like asking people to stop brushing their teeth. It’s like suggesting that one reduce one’s tweets from a hundred and one a day to, say… one (sweet one).

And trusting that you will restrain yourself from announcing that you did so on a megaphone

Rachel Olivia O’Connor is a freelance journalist. She can be reached at




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One Comment

  1. K SHESHU BABU says:

    Absorbing article