Sunday, April 10, 2016

If I Were 18, I'd Sure Be Pissed off at the Rest of Us

If I were a younger me, maybe 16 or 20, I'd be puzzled – and angry.

I'd see a world my elders had badly poisoned and were continuing to poison.

Consider the vast amount of carbon dioxide we've added to the earth's atmosphere; rising and acidified seas; glaciers, sea ice, coral reefs, trees, species, and arable land vanishing with obscene speed; and potable water rapidly disappearing while the world's population surges. Inequality growing, democracy endangered. Probable pandemics.

It's an interrelated mess. Meanwhile some of the worst poisoners (oil, gas, coal, and particularly the Koch Brothers' network of wealthy donors and paid shills) are spending zillions of dollars on a tobacco-ish con job to protect their huge profits against any serious effort to deal with the mess. They're also throttling our democracy by impeding voters, buying politicians, and pumping unprecedented sums into elections.

None of our Presidential candidates seems to notice our planet is burning. The Republican nominees, like refugees from some comic-strip, argue about the sex lives of each other's wives – and deny that foul air, rising seas, or bizarre weather are anything to worry about. So what if fracking pollutes water and brings on earthquakes? That's freedom. And it pays. 

The Democratic candidates recognize we have a problem, but they've failed to propose a detailed plan for preserving a livable world. 

Make no mistake: there's a huge difference between the parties. Most Democrats at least acknowledge some of the problems, strive generally for a cleaner and more egalitarian world, and would appoint Supreme Court nominees who live in this century. We can't afford decisions like Citizens United.

But if I were young, I'd be as furious over our “business-as-usual” self-absorption as I once was about racism, poverty, and a stupid war that even its managers later admitted made no sense. I could see so little difference between Humphrey and Nixon in 1968 that I cast my first vote for Eldridge Cleaver.

If I were young, I'd be furious that my elders (including this old columnist) still treat the world's resources as if they were toys in a playpen, and as if our parents (or God) would replace anything we lose or break. Sure, industries do the “real” damage; but how can we keep planting lawns, watering at noon, using damaging pesticides and fertilizers, and driving ten miles just to buy some unnecessary item?

I'd be appalled to see my elders doing nothing and know that I'd have to live in the world they were still poisoning. I'd be insulted that while purporting to love me, and purporting to be good Christians and good people, they were too lazy or too greedy to take a stand. Or too timid to look the truth straight in the face.

I'd wonder what might wake them up. I'd consider eco-terrorism. In my frustration, I'd wonder if blowing things up, even if it cost me my life, might do it. If aliens were destroying our world as rapidly as we ourselves are doing, and endangering our health, we'd resist violently! 

One might suggest organizing around serious issues and electing sensible people who, whatever their party, made decisions based on evidence, science, and rational thought. As many have been trying to do. But that's awfully slow, when you're young, and when temperatures, sea-levels and oceanic acidity are rising beyond control, and Great Barrier Reef is dying. 

I might get some comfort if I had a little brother in the Las Cruces 5th-grade class which, when told its field trip would include Trump Towers, protested in such numbers that the school changed the itinerary. 

[The column above  appeared in the Las Cruces Sun-News this morning, Sunday, 10 April, and on the newspaper's website, and will appear shortly on KRWG's website [mouse over "News" and click on "Local Viewpoints," second from the top on the drop-down menu].  I invite comments and criticism, here or at either of those two sites.]

[Someone did urge me to stress that I'm not advocating eco-terrorism.  I'm not.  Nor am I anywhere close to asserting that my own conduct is perfect in these matters.  As "(including this old columnist)" above suggests, although I do try, I do not come close to minimizing my own "footprint" nearly as well as I wish I did.  But it seems important to try; and to advocate, stridently sometimes, that others try, particularly industries and large entities.  The Koch Brothers and the oil companies have spent such vast sums trying to muddy the waters, and sometimes spending that money well, that many folks don't face the significance of the scientific consensus.  (I urge everyone who cares about the environment, our democracy, or just facing up to the truth to read Dark Money, which provides a lot of information on the network of billionaires, led by the Kochs, spending incredible amounts, often in very sly and dishonest ways, to soften public opinion so that we loosen up on environmental regulations, lower the taxes even further on the wealthy, slack off on trying to keep wealthy financial entities from gambling unwisely with our money, and otherwise approve steps that aren't at all in our interest.  One great method has been to convince people that the rules protecting us from corporate abuses are somehow similar to the rules keeping us from smoking marijuana or hunting with a gun or doing other activities people enjoy.  "See, we're your allies against those evil government bureaucrats who just don't like anyone to have fun."  Uhh, pouring mercury down the drain or polluting our air are not exactly the same as drinking or smoking a little too much or going hunting.]

1 comment:

  1. We are mad.

    I wonder if it's a matter of getting people to realize that change is a long con, and, we're [luck-willing] going to be running the game for much longer and the changes we make now will have an impact.

    But then, you don't people investing or even building a savings account because the RIO is really... [Insert commentary on us kids needing instant gratification.]