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A Sane Response to Collective Insanity

2012/04/09

My version of the old adage nothing is certain but death and taxes is that the only thing we know for sure is that things will change. That’s true for this blog, too; I’m still undecided on what direction, if any this blog should take in the future. This reflects my own ambivalence about where I want to direct my energies at this crucial time in history. Globally, we are quickly approaching a tipping point in our climate system (see: Scientific American’s March 26 article, Global Warming Close To Becoming Irreversible). All I need to do is look out my window for evidence that as our atmosphere continues to heat up, our weather is becoming increasingly unpredictable – just last month twelve high temperature records were broken my part of northwestern Ontario.

So what is a reasonable response to our society’s collective insanity? Sitting on the sidelines as our political and economic system (they have fused into one) refuses to face the truth about our suicidal addiction to oil doesn’t feel like an option, particularly as the Harper Government has recently stepped on the gas pedal, accelerating the speed with which we’re going to hit the wall of climate change, ocean acidification, and species extinction, not to mention economic disaster. As Albert Einstein once said, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

As Einstein also pointed out, we can’t solve our problems with the same kind of thinking that created them; and yet here we are, putting our children and grandchildren’s future on the line because we don’t believe that a way of living that has only come into existence in the last century or so can be changed. Some of us have also thrown up our hands in despair, recognizing the risk but not feeling up to meeting the challenge it presents.

Hence, my situation of wondering what I should focus my energy on in the next while. Every blog post on 350orbust has been a labour of love, but I’m not feeling the love quite so much lately. Frankly the craziness out there is getting to be a bit much some days, and I don’t know if my time is really well spent documenting and commenting on this insanity. The race for the Republican leadership, for example, is unfolding like a bad Saturday Night Live skit. The  race to the bottom is a sight to behold, and yet it is being reported on by the mainstream media as if nothing at all is amiss. According to the MSM, Newt and Santorum’s anti-intellectual ravings, which often have misogynist and/or racial undertones, are to be taken seriously. Meanwhile here in Canada, our federal government is implicated in electoral fraud, no less (that means they deliberately skewed our democratic process during last spring’s election). The same government is also guilty, according to a recent Auditor General’s report, of deliberating misleading Parliament (aka The Canadian People) about the cost of purchasing F-35 fighter jets, giving a price that our Auditor General says the Government knew was at least $10 Billion lower than the actual cost. It appears that the Harper Conservatives lied to the nation during last spring’s election campaign as well, deliberately withholding the true cost of this purchase in order to increase their chances of winning. Yet this same government, with very little moral authority to govern, and only a slim majority, continues to introduce – and pass – draconian legislation that is meant to change the very nature of Canadian society, remaking it in the image of Mr. Harper and his far right extremism.

I’ve said it before, folks, we’ve well and truly fallen down the Rabbit Hole. Welcome to Wonderland where down is up and where unsustainable economic growth is pursued with a religious fanaticism. “Unbelievers”, of which there are increasing numbers, are called heretics (recall Environment Minister Peter Kent’s labeling of Canadian environmentalists as “radicals”and “enemies of Canada” for opposing the Northern Gateway Pipeline) and are increasingly subject to government harassment and imprisonment (remember the G20 in Toronto in 2010, where over 1,000 Canadians were arrested in a 24-hour period for engaging in peaceful demonstrations?).  Tim DeChristopher is a recent example of a political prisoner. In this clip from “UP!” with Chris Hayes, host Hayes talks about DeChristopher’s situation and the role of civil disobedience, particularly as it relates to climate crisis. If you don’t have the time or inclination to listen to the whole 30 minutes, at least listen to the first seven minutes. It’s the most honest and impassioned discussion of climate change I’ve come across in the mainstream media:

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The small Himalayan, mostly Buddhist, kingdom of Bhutan has a different idea of how nations can achieve success besides than the relentless pursuit of growth which,  after all, is the definition of cancer. Bhutan has been measuring its “Gross National Happiness” since the 1970s;  although the nation’s GDP remains low,  its citizens rank themselves among the world’s happiest people. This kingdom has now set its sights on going global with the idea of measuring “GNH”:

Once it becomes clear that further GDP growth will be ever more difficult to achieve, national leaders will desperately need ways to make life tolerable for their increasingly restive constituents. It’s plain that environmental, psychological, and social well-being must be the new goal, and we can thank the government of Bhutan for realizing this and blazing a trail that others may follow.

Imagine a world where governments made increasing the Gross National Happiness of its citizens a priority; I choose to believe that it could happen. We are hurtling towards a tipping point; it will be either a tipping point into catastrophic climate disruption which will doom our children and all future generations to lives of untold misery and suffering, or a tipping point towards a world where there is wide recognition of the limits to growth,as well as recognition that there is enough for everyone’s need but not everyone’s greed. Sound impossible? The choice is ours; as the Nelson Mandela quote states, “it seems impossible until it’s done”.

I’m away on vacation for the next few weeks, so will have only sporadic access to my computer. Catch y’all later!

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Theresa permalink
    2012/04/09 8:14 pm

    I for one am glad you have built this amazing blog! You are my connection to the pertinent issues and related news happenings regarding climate change. You are a writer and I will read whatever you have written wherever you are and in whichever form the writing has taken! Keep up the amazing work Christine and know that you have created a ripple in my life. The flame may flicker but will never go out.

    • 2012/04/11 6:44 am

      Thanks for the kind words, Theresa – and for what you are doing in your community to make a difference. It’s very encouraging!

  2. climatehawk1 permalink
    2012/04/09 8:15 pm

    Thanks, Christine, and have a good vacation. Be sure to let us know what you decide.

    • 2012/04/11 6:46 am

      Thx Climate Hawk – you can be sure that I’ll be sticking around in cyberspace one form or another. It’s hard to keep a climate activist down for long!

  3. 2012/04/09 9:29 pm

    Enjoy a well-earned vacation and hang in there. Jenny

    • 2012/04/11 6:50 am

      Hi Jenny, and thanks for the encouragement. I see that you are in a state of transition as well, judging from your blog post from last month. Any ideas about the direction you and your husband are going to take – I’m intrigued by the “he wants to act” statement.

  4. diamondwalker permalink
    2012/04/10 7:26 am

    I admire your refreshing, warm, intelligent, spirited ideas & efforts. If there are active people like you to counterbalance (or be the antidote to) the ‘ministerial’ failures and dullards such as Joe Oliver.. Peter Mackay et al.. and to be sane, clear voices defying the shrill barking of ‘ethical oil’.. then I will feel even more confident and optimistic. We need to look after our own backyards. It seems you have that ethic embedded within you. Thank you for including that video update re Tim DeChristopher. His actions and punishment caught my eye a ways back. To me, he’s an example, like you.. of people with deep reservoirs of that rare attribute, ‘common sense’.. Courage is an attribute that always seems to keep company with common sense. Unfortunately, courage very rarely keeps company with partisan politics, and like truthfulness is never found in the vicinity of ‘big oil’ or ‘big finance’ or ‘big religion’ .. Share Value = Dogma = Speaking Points .. Please keep doing what you are doing.. Priceless .. !

    • 2012/04/11 6:56 am

      What kind, and encouraging, words, DiamondWalker. I know that there are a lot of Canadians – the majority, in fact – who are appalled by the direction our federal government is taking. It just may be that they will be the authors of their own misfortunate/downfall with the F35 fiasco (apparently election fraud/contempt of Parliament isn’t enough!). But frankly the Liberals and the NDP haven’t lead on the issue of addressing climate change, either, although perhaps with Mulcair at the helm that will change for the NDP.

      I’m not going to disappear, but am pondering the shape of 350orbust in the future. Your feedback has helped. Be well.

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