“…The questions I keep coming back to are these: in this time, as countless multitudes of humans & nonhumans suffer 4 the profits & luxuries of a few, & as species go extinct at rates greater than any in the last scores of millions of years—as large-vertebrate evolution itself is being halted—what does the world need? What does the world need from me?…” — Derrick Jensen
This isn’t the post I was going to write. I’m actually working on three others at one time, but this one came to me in a conversation I had yesterday… This is a very short post, anchored on an inspiring essay from Orion, including a few creative ideas about what others do to stop the systemic destruction of the only home we have. First a short commentary from me, and then that essay, and then excerpts and links linking what the world needs now….
Lately, I’ve been thinking about how much of the environmental activism I see is focused on lifestyle and consumerist change. It always strikes me that my neighbors are people who can’t just change what and where they make purchases, nor simply start to “live simply” and “live off the land”. (Hardly simple, of course…)
Once a month I pay my utility bills at a corner store. I don’t like mailing out my bill payments (I’d always be late!), and I don’t like going to a franchise (they’re taking over small businesses, why do they need me?). I like this corner store, a family owned business, only a couple blocks away from my house, walking distance, and I really like the guy who runs it. He’s been in business for 20-25 yrs, and he runs it like a community store. He knows the people who come in…he’s kind and respectful…he stays calm under pressure when monthly food stamps come in and the line builds…he’s good to his workers. He’s also resisted takeover by franchises like Wilson Farms and Tops (Tops owns WF) and The Convenient Food Store.
He charges for the service of paying bills, but I don’t mind. I figure I’m going to pay either way… Either for the service of the convenience of checks, or the service of auto-payments (no thanks), of whatever other way the capitalist middle-man will find to take away one more piece of our lives. I’d rather give it to him and keep the economy as local as possible, in part as a way of thanking him for his service, under the same pressure of wage slavery to a system he didn’t create, but survives and helps others survive.
The place smells like going home… There’s a kitchen in the deli, where they make sandwiches and subs, and after each visit, I smell a little like fried foods for a few hours. One of these days I’m going to eat one of those sandwiches. Being there is the one place in my neighborhood on the West Side of Buffalo, where I can see my true neighbors. I see a lot of poverty and destitution. I’ve lived in this area for 17 yrs, and it’s getting worse, fast. Sometimes my heart races, aches, when I walk down the street, and I see how hard it is to merely get by for so many. I see the drug and alcohol abuse that’s part of the package of coping with crisis and extreme hardship. Yesterday, a man who wanted to buy a pack of cigarettes was surprised when told that the price was hiked to $9 a pack. He said, “Forget it! I’ll tell my wife it’s time for her to quit!” I wondered how often in any given week my friend behind the counter heard that…
Yesterday was a rare occasion… He initiated a conversation with me. I usually just say hi and thanks, because I can see he’s working hard and has a lot of balls to juggle, but this time we talked a little. As he took my invoices and payments, he said, “You pay your bills in full every month. Do you have any idea how unusual that is?” I looked at him, smiled, and listened. He told me that only 3-5% of his customers pay their bills in full every month. Then he talked about how he watches their balances pile up, and sees the threats of shut-offs of gas and electric and phones. I was feeling really tired this week… Feeling the pressure build, feeling at least relieved that it’s summer, and the heat and electric bill is much lower, working hard to not get too freaked out about the future, as rates and costs keep getting hiked, and the economy keeps spiraling, and work keeps getting harder to find. He said, “You should feel a little better about how you’re doing in your life, right now, based on that very fact…”
And I did briefly. I did. I thought about that later that day, too, when I read the following links about how my human survival is not the point, but how other humans survive and fight back the colonizers and thieves…. 7 links below…
What the World Needs Now:
“…[A]…line by the psychiatrist R. D. Laing, “Few books today are forgivable.” He wrote this, I believe, because we have become so very alienated from our own experience, from who we are, & this alienation is so destructive to others & to ourselves that if a book does not take this alienation as its starting point & work toward rectifying it, we’d all be better off looking at blank pieces of paper. Or better, actually experiencing something (or someone). Or even better, entering, as Martin Buber might have written, into a relationship W/something or someone….But there’s another reason…(few films, paintings, songs, relationships, lives, & so on) are forgivable….The conservation biologist Reed Noss has called his field a “combat discipline”:…We are in a crisis, & our attitudes & actions need to reflect this…If you were trapped in a burning building, would you want the firefighters to be reluctant enthusiasts, part-time crusaders, half-hearted fanatics? Should the mother of a very sick child be reluctant or half-hearted in defense of that child?…The questions I keep coming back to are these: in this time, as countless multitudes of humans & nonhumans suffer 4 the profits & luxuries of a few, & as species go extinct at rates greater than any in the last scores of millions of years—as large-vertebrate evolution itself is being halted—what does the world need? What does the world need from me?…”
WHAT’S AT STAKE:
How bad is the oil spill? Flight sheds light on magnitude of disaster…Author David Helvarg takes a flight from the shores of Alabama to the site of the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion. What he finds is disturbing….Wed, Jun 30 2010 at 2:56 PM EST Fires on the ocean…We do a photo run over the dolphins and then circle the source with its relief well rigs and big ships and helicopters taking off from the Enterprise and fireboats directing torrents of water at the burning flares, and as we circle, the flat sea gives off strange reflections of flame, smoke and sky distortions I’ve never seen before, like a funhouse mirror and a rainbow haze drained of all color….We pass over a dozen more dolphins in thick oil only 9 miles from the source. Like the last dolphins they seem to be lolling at the surface rather then leaping forward together as you’d normally spot them….“There’s more on the left. It’s like Jonestown, man!” Tom exclaims….“It’s like they don’t know,” John says. …“Their home’s dying and they’ve decided to check out. They’re drinking the water like those people in the jungle,” Tom explains his Jonestown reference. “They’re dying.”…“When I was a little boy I’d watch the dolphins in our bow wake on the way to Ship Island [in Mississippi]. They were my friends. It’s heartbreaking,” John says, needing to verbalize what we’re all feeling. http://bpoilslick.blogspot.com/2010/06/how-bad-is-oil-spill-flight-sheds-light.html
WHAT WE’RE UP AGAINST:
It’s the policy, stupid…Why eaters alone can’t transform the food system… by Tom Philpott…29 Jun 2010 12:03 PM… The problem, Rogers makes clear, is a widespread lack of infrastructure for supporting small-scale, ecologically minded farmers. The public resources that might do just that are siphoned off by the industrial food system, in the form of commodity subsidies and largesse to the corn ethanol industry. Farmers like Pitts have to pass on the costs of their ecological stewardship directly to their customers in the form of eye-popping prices, which still don’t add up to a decent salary, while industrial-scale farms can generally trash the environment with impunity, letting society as a whole, or distant communities, pick up the bill. See, for example, the Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone.
Whistle blower to testify on oil spill worst fear:BP deliberately sinks oil with Corexit as cover up…June 30, 1:38 PM Political Spin Examiner Maryann Tobin…”By sinking the oil before it can be collected, BP won’t have to pay fines on it….McCallister said, “Everybody in Europe, where the standard practice is to raise the oil and collect it, is scratching their heads, and quite honestly laughing at what’s happening in the Gulf.” He added, “Everyone is looking at us and wondering why we’re allowing this to happen.” http://www.examiner.com/x-33986-Political-Spin-Examiner~y2010m6d30-Whistle-blower-to-testify-on-oil-spill-worst-fearBP-deliberately-sinks-oil-with-Corexit-as-cover-up
How I Got Arrested and Abused at G20 in Toronto, Canada…by Tommy Taylor…(originally posted to Facebook at 1002 hrs, 29 June 2010)”…We live in Canada, so before you say that everyone should have gone home, no. Is that the country you want to live in? Where you can’t speak up? One day you’ll have to actually face an issue of injustice that will make you actually stand up and go outside and use your freedom, use your voice – and you’ll be glad you can. Imagine if you couldn’t? What country does that make you think of? So, with no instructions from the surrounding police I ask someone marching in the street and they seem to think it’s back to Allan Gardens Park, perfect! We live there!…” http://cotbn.blogspot.com/2010/06/following-is-reprinted-in-its-entirety.html
WHAT WE CAN DO TO STOP IT:
The vhaVenda People are attempting to defend one of their sacred sites from being utterly destroyed for the tourism industry in South Africa’s Limpopo Province. In April, bulldozers entered the forest area surrounding the site, the Phiphidi waterfall, to pave the way for so-called tourist huts. With eyes locked on the World Cup, the bulldozers continue to destroy this sacred site…. http://www.sacredland.org/bulldozers-move-in-on-south-african-sacred-site/
Innu communities are blocking access to two mining projects in northeastern Quebec and western Labrador in an effort to protect their Indigenous rights and ensure that no mining can proceed on their territory without their consent. As of mid-June, roughly 100 Innu were attending the blockade. http://intercontinentalcry.org/innu-block-access-to-mining-projects-on-their-territory/