Thursday, March 02, 2006

Feel the Fear, but Go Forward

I finally let myself get talked into becoming involved in town government. I'm running for the Planning Board with the slogan, "Vote for 'cafiend' for Planning Board 3-year seat. Honesty. Integrity. He has no plans of his own."

I've been an environmental inactivist for years. Human ambition is the most damaging force on the planet. Greed denies the value of the balance of nature. It demands retribution eventually, because a system out of balance will vibrate to destruction, as we see happening now. We can improve the quality of life in ways that matter. We can find benign uses for technology. We cannot keep living on credit, clawing the guts out of the Earth and calling it "wealth creation." We cannot keep profiting by the fact that there are more people who need houses than places to put those homes. The swelling ranks of the dispossessed will not remain placidly hopeful that better times will come.

Maybe the answer is beyond our ability to accept and implement reasonable limits on ourselves. In that case it gets left to impersonal forces. Maybe that is really best in the long run, but you'll have to accept that your life and every other human life is cheap and easily replicated. Your children are simply statistics, some to add up to more than others. Love them all you want. When the collective shit hits the environmental fan you can't count on having any place to hide from the spray.

Huge objects are made of unimaginably tiny particles, so you can't really say that your individual actions don't matter. You yourself may be individually disposable, but your existence creates ripples. Your properties affect the properties of others. This is true as metaphorically or as actually as you care to interpret it.

Previous generations could be oblivious to this, because the debt had not accumulated enough for imminent alarm. In 1939, George Orwell wrote things in "Coming Up for Air" that I fully identified with in 1998, and took to be sentiments from the 1950s until I looked at the book's publication data. But his complaints about suburban sprawl and pollution could still be considered aesthetic. His observation that governments control their people with constant threats of external aggressors and internal infiltrators probably seemed like the much bigger issue. And it was true at the time .

As the human socio-political situation ran its course through the Cold War, we continued to breed, building up even greater environmental consequences while coincidentally increasing social tensions within and between nations and peoples. In terms of our daily life, who among us would notice stepping on a single sperm or egg, or even a whole zygote or an early embryo dropped on the sidewalk? Yet these tiny things can grow into full-size people who produce more of them and argue bitterly, even violently about them.

And so on.

When there's no water fit to drink, or so little that it is too expensive for the common people, when the acid rain sluices down the denuded hillsides between the disintegrating remains of "newly-constructed contemporary home(s) with breathtaking views" we will finally be free to live like perfect libertarians. In other words, the law of fang and claw will have replaced all those intrusive regulations meant to stave off the inevitable consequences of human arrogance. We can go back to banging out the little ones, watching half of them die, and duking it out for whatever resources remain.

Meanwhile, I'm not busy with anything else. I guess I'll see if I can delay the collapse of western civilization.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So how SHOULD we live?