Swan Song?


“One airplane program, the F-35, could be canceled and the funds used to convert every home in the United States to clean energy.” — David Swanson

The above, a line from David Swanson’s Bringing Movements Together, provides a point of departure for teaching elements of Math and Science. And, of course, it could be a lead in for instructive exploration in other disciplines as well. On all educational levels.

“We’re not going to save our earth’s climate only as individuals. We need organized global efforts. The only place where the resources can be found is in the military. The wealth of the billionaires does not even begin to rival it. And taking it away from the military, even without doing anything else with it, is the single best thing that we could do for the earth. The U.S. military is the leading consumer of petroleum around, the third-greatest polluter of U.S. waterways, the top creator of superfund environmental disaster sites.”

Yes, we “need organized global efforts.” The thing is, that’s not going to be generated by the worldwide authority figures who actually have the ability to influence the course of events at present. In fact, those with the greatest influence are making our horrid momentum worse by the day. And so I say that movement in meaningful solidarity must begin on a more humble level.

Salam Academy in Albuquerque — where I expect to teach for the 2017/18 school year — could easily stir up the creative juices of one and all in New Mexico, and thereby send positive ripples nationwide. Making possible the impact that’s desired on the global stage. And not just vis-a-vis climate change issues.  Our other collective crises could be addressed simultaneously — nonviolently, legally — through a new kind of civic engagement (that would not violate the clever parameters imposed by governmental powers that be, designed to restrict the influence of all non-profits).

All educational institutions which want to make a difference — dealing with the causes of our decline in morality, our descent into madness — should make note of what’s underscored parenthetically above. Because all governments tend to only allow an addressing of symptoms.

I see such movement in solidarity as also helping members of the Islamic community to secure a safer environment for themselves. Meaning, the collective effort I’m proposing could reduce Islamophobia; one would hope that all of this might open up a discussion of new viable options for world peace. Certainly, Muslims everywhere need as much support as they can get from their counterparts in Albuquerque. From as many people as possible.

I believe that the only problem with saving the world is expecting others to do it.

Project-based Learning has become very popular in educational institutions across the board. Well, I submit that creating an Islamic Plus Party in New Mexico would go a long way toward decent people (all across the demographic spectrum) securing significant decision-making capacity in the state. Details upon request, but note that students and their parents could immediately get into gear respecting civic engagement which follows a fresh paradigm. For starters, the Superfund sites Swanson refers to can be found in and around Albuquerque could be addressed. They are dangerous. They are underplayed and neglected. And if Muslims dealt with the challenge they represent in their backyard, I believe it would generate great environmental adrenaline among concerned citizens everywhere.

Securing the gubernatorial office would be a good start. And I can furnish details about how to go about achieving that ambitious goal (on a zero budget), upon request. Muslims would be a wonderful demographic for advocating that miracles can be performed without money in the mix.

The “Plus” part of my proposal has to do with the fact that the new political party would welcome one and all. And the first demographic that comes to mind is the Latino community. Why not make an attempt to unite Muslims and Christian Latinos? Left-of-center Caucasians of various stripes could jump on board too, of course. And, then, there would be a core group capable of recruiting enough folks to make a difference.

The thing is, the “difference” that has to be implemented is quite radical. It involves questioning matters which are not generally addressed. And much is — routinely — “not addressed” because facing certain issues would require personal transformations. Demand that individual decent citizens change habits, question their cultural ground of being and the like.

I see the Islamic community as being a very good point of departure for encouraging spiritual transformation, the kind of personal change that is begged for at present. Of course, citizens in other religious realms could serve the same purpose, but they are not doing so in great numbers right now. I’m talking about making morality popular again.

And equally important is the questioning I alluded to above, “questioning matters which are not generally addressed.” For instance, if David Swanson is talking about solar panels being used for clean energy, one must ask where the panels are produced, and under what conditions. What they’re made of too.

Horrific production lines in China are making inexpensive solar panels an option, yes. But at what cost in the Big Picture? And how many advocates of clean energy know much about the devils in the details respecting solar panels, wind turbines and the like. I’m talking about the serious downsides associated with much of what comes under the umbrella of clean energy. Like toxic exposure and slavery in many quarters. The focus of Saral Sarkar’s latest article must also be considered.

Electric cars can be considered an “improvement” when contrasted with what’s on the road right now, but aren’t there negatives to navigate through in discussion? I’m not aware of such exchanges going on. All I hear about in that realm is the talk that says — without any reservations whatsoever — “clean energy” is better than this. Better than that. The kind of generic no brain blah blah that’s politically correct, and encouraged in all so-called progressive circles.

I don’t have answers to much of this. But as Maya Angelou said, “A songbird doesn’t sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.”

I pray that we aren’t singing our societal Swan Song as background to our very decent environmentally-conscious music. That our present well-meaning lyrical activism isn’t a beautiful, but final futile gesture.

Richard Martin Oxman has been an educator and activist for over half-a-century. He would be honored to speak gratis at any educational institution which makes a request at [email protected].


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