Ahhh…hhh…hhh! It (Xmas) has come and gone for yet another year! Apparently markets have hit an all time high of moving stuff from store shelves to Christmas tree guarded aggregations of plastic/paper/ribbons/goods from which a modicum of pleasure will be extracted before it all goes out to the curb for collection into that vast sea of waste under which we are burying ourselves—and our planet.
Sometimes when I go through this orgy of greed we call Christmas I worry that, like Alice observes of Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, we “have seen our nobler aspirations fall off one by one, until the master-passion, Gain, utterly engrosses (us).” We can no more understand that essential human characteristic we bury beneath the conflation of Christmas and sales than Scrooge could understand the ominous words of the ghost of Scrooge’s dead business partner, Marley, “’Business!’…Humankind was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The deals of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”
Tonight, New Year’s eve, we slurp our drinks and pray the intoxication can, for this one night, hide from us the knowledge that our consumption compulsion is destroying our Earth and cooking our atmosphere.
Tonight, as I contemplate what lies ahead for the new year, I am overpowered by the lyrics and melody to a song, “Can Anyone Tell,” I heard many years ago at an antiwar conference in Nelson, BC. The song envisions the Sun, Moon and Stars in a conference. The Sun, in this celestial gathering is saying to the stars and moon, “I see that you are sorrowful. For ages we shone for her (our Earth) and loved her so well, but now she is turning/busted and burning. Why would they do t is Can Anyone Tell?” The song goes on to paint a musical picture of this beautiful life-sustaining planet, beautiful in its seasons and life sustaining and asks repeatedly, “Why would they do this (destroy this beautiful, life giving planet)? Can anyone tell?”
I don’t remember what else was said and done at the conference but I remember driving back over the Blueberry/Paulson pass from the conference with this question that haunts me to this day (forty years later): Of all the things that a so called intelligent species on a beautiful, fecund planet could do why would they choose destroying the life sustaining qualities of their planet as their first priority? I ask myself, “Why would they do this?” and I get no answer except that we have this illness called an economy that, like a bodily cancer takes over everything draining our ability to be or feed anything other than our parasitic illness.
Though I generally support the idea of a Green New Deal (GND)because it envisions a world less dependent on creating atmosphere cooking gasses, I worry that it contains a fatal –hair of the dog–flaw in advancing the idea that we can buy our way out of this mess. After all the Green New Deal seems to advance the idea that markets are all we have. Perhaps they can be tamed and redirected but the GND doesn’t begin to conceptualize a different vision of what we are doing on this Earth or why we are doing it. The GND envisions spending trillions of dollars on buying different stuff but there is nothing about the Green New Deal that asks us to fundamentally rethink our ideas of who we are and why/what we are doing on this beautiful/life sustaining planet. Is it now beyond our ability to imagine a world where we celebrate the beauty of our life sustaining planet without grinding it through our life/planet eating economy? Could we not–like the Sun, Moon and Stars of Can anyone tell?—envision our beautiful planet as something to be appreciated and cared for rather than just an inert object to be transformed into “valuable stuff” by our greed for more things?