Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Refreshing Change

We Could Become Earthlings
            There are so many crises these days that it’s hard to imagine how civilization as we know it can go on. And maybe it’s best that it doesn’t in its present formulation. A change might be refreshing. It may also be necessary.
            The core of all our problems, I’m guessing, is our assumption that more is not just better but a matter of great importance. “If we’re not going forward, we’re falling backwards,” a local politician once told me in defense of urban renewal, which threw a lot of poor people out of their homes.
            For him—for most—life is a competition, a battle.
            So we grow and consume, grow and consume, like cows fattening ourselves for the slaughter. And not just in America any more. It’s an epidemic spreading across the world, disrupting Nature in ways we’ve only begun to recognize.
            And it all has to do with money. We can’t help it, we measure our self-worth by how much money we have, and we judge yours by that standard, as well. It’s not intentional, it’s a reflex because we’ve been raised to believe for too long that our worth is in our wealth.
            And, as my ballet teacher once said, “You can’t be too thin or too rich.”
            Truth is, when it comes to money, there’s never enough. Why else would the rich keep accumulating it? I made a little in my day, and it just kept sucking me in. First $1,000 was a lot, but it wasn’t enough after I made $2,000. There was no end in sight to how much money I felt I needed to feel secure.
            But, as Jacob the musician says in the film Mars et Avril, we’ve hardly learned anything yet about living artfully on the Earth. Why do we want to rush on to Mars?
            We’re clever beings. If we were to value another kind of thought, we could imagine living in a better way. We could become Earthlings. We have a garden here at home, with plenty for everybody, if we can learn to relax, be ourselves, and get along. Get back in rhythm with the Earth. Trust Mother Nature. Or, if you prefer, the Lord. And be grateful for natural science.
            There’s no end of work to do before we’re finished with those mental adjustments.
            Look at the record under present assumptions. Hasn’t it become obvious yet that we can’t dominate the Earth without killing her and slaughtering each other in the bargain? Yet I suspect Nature would begin to heal in just a few years if everyone gave up the mad race for wealth. It might take a global financial collapse to do it, but we need to change our priorities. Find simpler ways to live and keep the peace. War, with all its affiliates, is unaffordable. Let’s not allow it to become too big to fail. We all fail. We all die. Why stay so lost in the woods?


At 4:36 PM , Anonymous Kate Loving Shenk said...

Haven't thought of that word "earthling" in a while! Love it, though. It does denote a throwback of saner times!


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