Sunday, March 8, 2009
Mother Nature don't do bailouts
Thomas Friedman asks, in his Op-Ed in today’s New York Times, “What if the crisis of 2008 represents something much more fundamental than a deep recession? What if it’s telling us that the whole growth model we created over the last 50 years is simply unsustainable economically and ecologically and that 2008 was when we hit the wall – when Mother Nature and the market both said: ‘No more.’”
For years, I’ve fed on writers who have shouted similar messages from their pulpits, smaller and less amplified than the New York Times usually but pulpits nonetheless. I have long been a convert to various strains of “Less can be More” credos of consumption, if at times admittedly lapsed in my dedication. Bill McKibben and Wendell Berry before him have long argued for a combination of personal and collective action to counteract prevailing destructive forces of contemporary capitalism; Gary Snyder and Annie Dillard are champions of the wild that is out there and in us; E.B. White examined work, craft, and community; Henry David Thoreau filled reams in an attempt to walk the walk he was talking.
Recently, I’ve sat down with more sobering fare: The World Without Us by Alan Weisman, I Am Legend starring Will Smith to name two. Both ask related questions: How might we push ourselves over the cliff edge? What will the ensuing post-apocalyptic world look like? A related, though ultimately more uplifting movie is the fantastic Whale Rider [If you haven’t yet, see it.]. A subplot that shook me was the story of whales. Whales elude conveyance – by saying that a house is large, blue, and south-facing, have I showed you what kind of home it is? Whales, like the dolphins in A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy, may yet leave. I think I should resume a previous habit of answering, whenever asked, “What animal would you choose to be?,” – a whale.
While I can’t swim like whales, what lessons can I learn from them? Put another way, how can I better walk the walk of a concientious consumer/educator/friend/citizen? What can I do to help restore balance? What am I, what are we doing differently in 2009 that will help us climb up to greater stability, sustainability, and symbiosis? Symbiosis?
Yes -- "sym·bi·o·sis, noun 2. a cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship between two people or groups." To this definition I would add “or systems” – educational, health care, political, financial, energy, industrial, military, transportation, commercial... What systems will we create to ensure that Mother Nature and the market, our families and communities can look back and say, confidently and gracefully: “Never again.”