A guest blog by Charlie Greene on how to play our part in these times of ecological and social crises.
We know we have work to do. We know we have hard labor ahead of us. Will we do it? Do we really believe that more knowledge and better understanding will help us to take on the hard labor we have been avoiding because it is not fair that no one of us is exempt?
What is this hard labor?
It is the labor of a mother peacefully giving birth to her child. It is the labor of a father pulling his children back up the snow sledding hill. It is the labor of a musician singing her heart out at the end of a far too long road tour. It is the labor of the farmer who is weeding 100 foot long rows after 100 foot long rows of his favorite vegetable, carrots, when the sun is beating his hat flat onto this head because he chooses sweat and sore muscles rather than pesticides. It is the labor of the nun who settles into the beginning of her fifth decade of daily meditation. It is the labor of children hard at their school work. It is the labor of the doctor who helps heal an indigent patient. It is the labor of Americans giving up our military control. It is the labor of ending War, the original politically correct word that humans find so much more comforting than what war actually is, state and non-state sponsored murder. It is the labor of the World Economic Forum divesting 99% of its money. It is the labor of ending poverty. It is the labor of creating a carbon-neutral human civilization. It is the labor of following the simple advice of every spiritual prophet since the beginning of time: Love our Neighbors as We love ourselves.
It is the work we must do with relaxed love, with a smile, with optimistic pain, with a rueful gladness. Work that will be bittersweet.
We are descendants Denisovans, Neanderthals, and Homo Sapiens who adapted, during the preceding 300,000 years, to the uncertain life of people on Earth.
We know that somewhere along the way humanity strayed onto a path that has reached a fork in the road where we must now, not tomorrow, make a great turning into uncertainty. Much like our ancestors who were determined to keep humanity alive through the most recent glaciation that stretched from 25,000 to 11,000 years before present.
With the 20/20 vision of hindsight, we can fault our Neolithic forebears who concurrently developed agriculture and slavery. We can blame faith communities who justified human sacrifice via inquisition, ethnic cleansing, economic greed, lust for power, and ritualistic offerings. We can shake our heads at residents in the early 20th century who decided that it would be more environmentally beneficial to convert from wood fuel to oil because the forests in the industrialized countries were almost gone, or to convert from horse to automobile based urban transportation in an effort to reduce flies and unpleasant odor. We can decry scientists who enabled poison gas, fire bombs, atomic weapons, and militarized drones. We can point incriminating fingers at Petro Giants, although we have known for 50 years that our willing purchase of gasoline and diesel fuels and our tacit acceptance of Big Oil’s cheap energy carried the price of ecosystem ruination.
But, to what end?
We can wait for more data, better understanding, better elected leaders, more opportune times, better technology, higher consciousness, more peaceful protest. We can take comfort in public statements of “I am better than Thou”. Or we can face up to the fact that we have been avoiding the necessity of the hard labor that we should have started no later than yesterday.
If we are to establish socially and ecologically just cultures by 2050, there is only one way to get there. Now, at the present moment, do the inevitable hard labor, the very hard work that requires us to live by the sweat of our brows, by the uncertainty of following our moral compasses, by making sure everyone has an equal share of life on Earth, even if that requires Americans to consume 10%, Europeans 15%, and the 4 billion humans in poverty 500% of what we do in January 2019.
We know enough now to roll up our sleeves. “Get to work” our grandchildren are telling us. Humans have figured out Earthly life as we have gone along for hundreds of thousands of years. It hasn’t always been pretty, but for better and worse, we are still here.
Our hard labor is an old dance we need to relearn quickly, and enjoy with smiles on our faces. It’s time to share the best of our humanity with each other, and with our ecosystem cousins.
Charlie Greene P.E.
Niles, New York 13118
Photo credits: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chauvethorses.jpg
Wed, 30 January