“It became apparent to me that a people would never abandon their means of livelihood, good or bad, capitalistic or otherwise until other methods were developed which would promise advantages at least as good as those by which they were living.” —- Job Harriman (quoted in a Counterpunch article)
I saw a notice in a local newspaper recently in their Calendar section. It read
“Save Our Shores will be hosting our final paddle cleanup with Kayak Connection. Come join us on the waves for a day of waterway cleanup and shoreline debris removal from the comfort of your kayak.”
Well, aside from the fact that there’s no sense of urgency embedded in the announcement, it’s important to underscore that the emphasis on “comfort” is counterproductive for getting people into optimal gear. One simply cannot address our major environmental challenges in comfort. Rather, we need to begin emphasizing the radical personal transformations we will all have to go through to deal with what’s happening to us all. It’s not at all going to be as easy as becoming the change we want to see by taking yoga classes or leaning out of a kayak on a given day.
Folks to the left, right, above and below me, are busy tackling the challenges presented by Climate Change outside of kayaks, and they are almost all doing so embracing technology as their main means for saving the day, the planet.
Well, Janet, that just won’t do. For after all is said and done when the day is through, you’ll be hard put to make a case for dispensing with the Precautionary Principle, which is what is happening across the board, as per the latest article by Robert Hunziker.
My opening quote from Job Harriman is germane here. For academics and corporate people engaged in addressing all of our collective crises will not even mention meaningful aspects of the sources of our troubles — those lifestyle habits which no one is changing — as they go about researching, discussing and implementing their ineffective solutions for our major environmental issues. Because holding onto their jobs is their primary priority.
Activists who suggest that workers in, say, the fossil fuel realm can look forward to transitioning to jobs with equal pay in the Employment Flavor of the Day realm of alternative energy sources are misleading one and all. That’s not going to happen, that can’t happen across the board. For there has to be (at the very least) a period people must pass through in which their income and benefits are reduced somewhat.
Not just with regard to the transitioning workers, but all of us must be prepared to lower our lifestyle demands, expectations initially… as we grapple with radically restructuring society. Maybe permanently.
That’s not the proverbial Elephant in the Room. Rather, that’s the Silent Elephant Slated to Doom Us All, if our violation of the Precautionary Principle doesn’t get us first.
I ask parents of youngsters who are preparing to pass the SAT, ACT and other tests — for the purpose of securing enrollment in a prestigious institution of higher education — to take all this quite seriously. I ask the reader to pass the word to them and the teachers employed in local schools. And I ask all teachers, counselors, test prep tutors and the like to take a moment to be honest about what is really motivating them in their daily rounds.
We’re moving in circles. Our entry into this deadly treadmill of destroying the planet began… God knows when. But the starting point doesn’t matter. At this juncture, all that matters is for someone to stop feeding the circular insanity involved in getting better and better at advocating and practicing the Technological Terror which rules us.
We get all fired up if an election is rigged. But we don’t even talk about the complicity of our personal gig. The job at which we are playing our life’s tune must tune into the times, which are festooned with crimes designed to make the world not worth living in. We must calibrate, not continually celebrate personal advancement.
No one will win unless the vast majority of us get with a movement which requires — by most standards — major personal sacrifices.
Rachel Olivia O’Connor is a member of the Oxman Collective. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.