Tuesday, June 17, 2014

5 Steps to Save the Humans

So today in our province, the big news was as expected: Our Feds approved the Northern Gateway Pipeline that threatens to destroy a large tract of northern BC wilderness as well as potentially (and the potential for oils spills in the crazy fjords they'll be tanking through is high) our entire coast, and with it, our lives and futures. The political, social, and ecological fallout from this threat might overwhelm us. But it's justified because jobs. Because money. Because paying back whatever we owe to China. Because our faces are too stuffed into our latte cups to see that there are no jobs on a dead landscape.

The little sound I live in is just now beginning to show the first signs of recovery from the industrial devastation it endured half a century ago... there's a long way to go until full recovery, but before that's possible, our provincial government has a few more plans (thank you Chris): LNG plant, waste incinerator, gravel pit, and massive logging of the biggest island in the heart of the sound (as if they hadn't already decimated the perimeter of the sound). What is now a sparkling green sea will become Vancouver's filthy little industrial wasteland.

This is our home. This water, the sealife, the land- and air-life, the plants, the rain and the fog among the varied bluffs and lakes and forests are the body of earth where my children (and we) have grown up. This is the land and sea that feeds our bodies and hearts and minds, and we are devastated. Our children are scared, and we are fanning that fear with our teachings and our own cautions about climate change and other ecological issues. In schools kids learn about problems associated with fossil fuels and then they come home in big buses with the plastic wrapping of their lunches and truly - what are they supposed to do about it all? Are we saddling them with this because we don't know how to stop it ourselves, so we hope they'll grow up to save us?

At the rate things are going we can't wait for our kids to save us. They'll be barely into their adulthood when the shit hits the fan, and then it's rather too late, isn't it? Or maybe the shit's hitting the fan right now and only our kids have eyes open wide enough to see it and let it permeate their nightmares. As if the news today didn't reach them. Today, their government approved the pipeline. Only the children, with their darling enviable innocence, were truly surprised and horrified by the news.

Shit. Hitting fans. It isn't one big afternoon event. Shit's not like that. It hits the fan and then sprays out, hitting us all with little sticky pieces that seem to stink even after we thought we'd wiped them off, and apparently we don't notice what's happening until it's too late. The shit hit the fan a long time ago, and we've had enough signs, now, that it's obvious: too late is beginning to slap us in the face.

We don't need to stand up to save our children. We need to stand up to save ourselves and stop waiting for our children to do it. We need to be the first generation to actually turn the fan off. And it isn't about saving nature, or the world. It's about saving the humans. It is about saving ourselves.

This is going to say "5 Steps...", and I choose the word steps very carefully, as opposed to "5 Ways..." or "5 Things You Can Do...", because these are not independent items. You cannot choose one and be done with it. We need to do all of these things. Now. Yes I'm aware that it's overwhelming, and that if each of us just stopped driving one day per week it would make a huge difference... but it wouldn't be enough. We are not going to make what in actuality needs to be a massive culture shift by simply minimizing our driving, or consuming fewer disposable containers. Every single one of us needs to do ALL of these things. In my notoriously unhumble opinion.

5 Steps To Save the Humans

Be engaged. The news sources, entertainment, and companions you choose greatly effect your understanding and engagement level. Just a couple of weeks ago our Canadian federal government mandated that meteorologists may no longer mention climate change on air. Is that the media you want to rely on? Look around, look outside of your normal scope, and get more of the things that you feel are good.

Unschool your children and yourselves. School curriculum is heavily influenced by the same corporate-controlled governments that are controlling the mainstream media. So are your extra-curricular resources: You can find branding in everything from your child's food to his clothing to his dreams. (Remember Scholastic's InSchool Marketing program?) Yes, you can counteract this by supplementing at home, but when we send our children into that environment for 30h+/week, our remedial impact is going to be minimal. Being free to learn in our own ways; to get engaged with the topics that inspire us and to follow our passions - those are the things that give us the power to make the changes we want to see. There is no point in worrying about PLO's and certificates. If things continue the way they are, there will be no future for our children to be learned and wealthy in, anyway. So let them - and let us - be learned and wealthy on our own terms. Yes, wealthy. Which brings me to #3...

Stop supporting enormous corporate interests such as oil, and the food/agriculture conglomerates. America is an oligarchy. Or a corporatocracy. And Canada is no different, as our federal government reminded us, today. In order to stop both the environmental and financial devastation caused by this situation we need to divest. To stop supporting this. That is, to give up plastics, fossil fuel, fossil-fuel-utilizing services and products, and oil industry investment. This sounds pretty bleak and impossible, but it doesn't have to be. We CAN find better, more sustainable, more local services and goods. These options are available to us, and in getting to know our communities and our neighbours we build our own support networks, as well. The wealth found in a supportive community; in the extreme pleasure of homegrown foods and local entertainment; in authentic relationships with each other and our ecosystems is enormous. In fact many of us are already doing these things, but I'm suggesting we need to go more quickly.

Be satisfied. My husband and I never go on "vacations". We've never been to tropical paradises, and unfortunately never get out for more than an evening or quick over-nighter without the kids. So we booked one: 3 days in an insanely expensive B&B in Victoria (because we were going there anyway; it was a good excuse, we thought)... and I came down with the worst pneumonia I've ever had. The vacation was not to be, and we came home feeling disappointed to have wasted all the money we'd actually saved to fix up our house this summer on a couple of days of shaking blinding fever and inedible food at an exceedingly crappy B&B. The next week, when my fever broke, I wavered out through my neglected and dirty house to the sunshine, where my family served me a bowl of rice and homegrown veggies on the porch. I could smell the May flowers. I could hear my children talking and chewing. I leaned my head on my husband's shoulder and felt blissful. Still deeply sick, but blissful. The kind of blissful that doesn't come from money spent on restaurants and accommodation but from a choice made to be satisfied with the good things we already have.

Until we, as a culture of humans, can learn to be satisfied with less, we will remain on this dangerous upward curve of consumption until it kills us.

Move from growth to sustainability. When we learn to be satisfied with what he have instead of always needing growth and expansion, we can find peace. Yes, this means living with less; even having fewer children. We have already so over-populated the earth that we are suffering the consequences. If we each replicate ourselves - 2 children per couple - and we take responsibility for that limit ourselves (not depending on our state to limit us, as has proved so disastrous elsewhere), then we will not only live in a more stable world, but will have the good feeling of knowing we created it, ourselves. We need to move away from a growth paradigm and towards a paradigm of joy.

My daughter elaborates a little on this, on her blog, the Economy of Joy. And that brings me back to my point: Our children are already doing everything they can. We need to step up and save ourselves both as role models for our children, and because the shit has already hit the fan.


(In case all those news-article links in the body weren't enough...)
Pipelines in Canada: CBC Article
Please sign this call for referendum: Let BC Vote


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