“We should be clear about what it costs to bare one’s soul and make an authentic difference.” — one of the author’s home schooled youngsters
I’ll be relocating to Lodi, California soon, the place that Credence Clearwater Revival “honored” back in the day when they made a fuss about getting stuck there… “again.” And — once again — I will try to step into a new U.S. realm to make a difference vis-a-vis our horrid climate momentum. Lodi’s as good as any municipality on earth to use as a point of departure for waking folks up, moving them to move into meaningful solidarity following a fresh paradigm. Even with its tiny population hovering around a mere 65,000 as I write. For I plan to take an unprecedented bite out of its potential.
Why not? At least 275 million city dwellers live in vulnerable areas, the majority of them in Asian coastal megacities and industrial hubs such as Shanghai, Shenzhen, Bangkok and Tokyo, but none of those centers of “civilization” have chosen to take me up on my volunteer offer to work with them to head off the horror of rising seas. I worked for six months trying to simply get my singular gestures across to the powers that be in those countries, making use of my contacts with independent journalists abroad for the purposes of translation. [Pause.] Unrequited outreach… without so much as a “Thanks, but no thanks” reply. No one seems to get the thrust of what Yahoo had emblazoned all over its main page the other day. From Miami to those cities I’ve cited, the scorecard is in. And yet all we’re getting is talk, talk… and more talk.
And though some of the dialogue is walk-talk, carving out some minimal inroads, we can’t afford to wait for the baby steps to transform into the giant leaps forward required. It really does feel as if I’m watching a five-hundred-foot wave descending in my direction — headed for my children — and being told to hold my tongue respecting why a crawling infant won’t be able to grow up soon enough to take the quantum leap that’s mandatory now. “Shut up,” for sure, if you’re serving youngsters in today’s schools. “Keep it zipped,” as you might frighten the kids… unnecessarily. And what’s their solution? Get Google to donate a year’s subscription to National Geographic… “which does cover climate change issues.”
Cover, no. Cover up is more like it. Publishing photos like the one that Yahoo offered up the other day spotlighting the plight of frightened polar bears is tantamount to having a token African-American up at the dais while die-hard southerners attend a conference focused on how offensive Civil War statuary tributes can remain in place, untouched by present efforts to remove them. All the while ignoring the rise in racism, the increasing segregation, etc. To say nothing about the fact that there’s nothing in the whole mix which costs anyone anything personally.
The rising waters must be met with a single collective corrective focus. And that must begin, as things now stand, with school teachers and others setting new priorities, and not succumbing to whatever politically correct silence has been imposed on the classroom or a given community.
Are the school teachers and parents who are protecting youth from putting two and two together with regard to polar bears feasting on rotting whale carcasses and Yemeni children being subjected to abominations which are the equivalent to what infants suffered during the Nazi Holocaust doing the right thing? They are not. There’s not much point in protecting innocence if a child’s being brought up to be an ostrich.
Soon we’ll not be able to ask that humorous question about whether or not a bear poops in the woods. Why are the woods slated to be gone?
You’re likely to never know if you’re attending one of the vast majority of schools now operating in the U.S. For in just about all educational institutions they’ve still got bears, whales and trees clearly separated on their illustrated alphabet charts. And in bright-siding colors at that.
I submit that if one school district — anywhere — calls a disappearing bear a doomed bear in a world where none of us will be able to survive off of whales or hide in clear cut “woods”… they could get something going which would give us a shot at creating the watershed in history that’s now necessary. Any individual stands to do the same.
So it is — for all of us — whatever we do for a living, wherever we live, wherever we choose to go, let’s admit that there’s something we can do. And that whether it’s in Moscow, Washington, D.C. or lonely Lodi, California… to make a meaningful enough difference we’re going to have to be crucified on some kind of cross. Or rack.
Cross over to where you really bear the disappearing bear on your back. Where it will cost you dearly to be clear and cracking.
Rachel Olivia O’Connor is a member of the Oxman Collective. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.