Reality Check

When the world around you seems to be unraveling, what do you do?

I see:

  • An environmental crisis primarily caused by greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels.
  • Even knowing that, Americans continue their widespread use of personal automobiles.  Continue to fly.  Continue to build and live in single family, large houses, needing to heated and cooled.  Continue to invest in fossil fuel related infrastructure.  Continue to build communities based upon personal transportation.
  • So greenhouse gas emissions continue to climb at a time when we need to be reducing them dramatically if there is going to be any hope of avoiding human extinction, and increasingly terrible environmental conditions leading up to that.
  • Federal and state governments have been taken over by corporate interests, and no longer serve the people.
  • Regulations and policies to hold industry accountable for their impact on the environment are quickly being undone by the current Republican administrations at the Federal and state levels.
  • Science had to be discredited in order for that to happen.
  • Those who are trying to protect Mother Earth have their civil liberties denied and are aggressively, violently suppressed.  The violence against the water protectors in North Dakota was simply hard to believe.  Many state legislatures are considering legislation to criminalize constitutionally protected rights to free speech.
  • The denial of freedom of speech is important to those who are trying to protect their profits because they know that protests by the people are the only way to stop this.
  • We need to prepare ourselves to continue and intensify our demonstrations supporting our environment.  We need to prepare for continued nonviolent direct actions, since this will increasingly be the only way we can try to protect Mother Earth.

We seem to have several choices.

  • Most people will continue to do nothing.
  • We can continue to try to engage with government.  I don’t know how to address what seems to be the total corruption of the Federal government now.  But there are many encouraging things going on at the local level.
  • We can accept that this comes down to us, anyway, and we can continue our personal efforts to reduce our own greenhouse emissions.
  • It comes down to us, and our own communities.  We need to help each other with this.  Sharing rides.  Expanding public transportation.  Redesigning our neighborhoods to be more walkable.  Insisting our power utilities move to renewable sources.  Grow food locally, avoiding transportation.
  • We need to embrace a more realistic, less materialistic, standard of living.
  • We need to identify the most grievous actions against our environment, and ourselves, and determine when direct action is called for.

Following is from Grace Lee Bogg’s The Next American Revolution:

The next American Revolution, at this stage in our history, is not principally about jobs or health insurance or making it possible for more people to realize the American Dream of upward mobility. It is about acknowledging that we Americans have enjoyed middle-class comforts at the expense of other peoples all over the world. It is about living the kind of lives that will not only slow down global warming but also end the galloping inequality both inside this country and between the Global North and the Global South. It is about creating a new American Dream whose goal is a higher Humanity instead of the higher standard of living dependent on Empire. It is about practicing a new, more active, global, and participatory concept of citizenship. It is about becoming the change we wish to see in the world.

The courage, commitment, and strategies required for this kind of revolution are very different from those required to storm the Winter Palace or the White House. Instead of viewing the U.S. people as masses to be mobilized in increasingly aggressive struggles for higher wages, better jobs, or guaranteed health care, we must have the courage to challenge ourselves to engage in activities that build a new and better world by improving the physical, psychological, political, and spiritual health of ourselves, our families, our communities, our cities, our world, and our planet.

Line graph of global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels. It shows a slow increase from about 500 million metric tons in 1900 to about 1,500 in 1950. After 1950, the increase in emissions is more rapid, reaching approximately 9,500 in 2011.

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