Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Beginning of Another Beginning

Warning: this is personal blather but it's part of my environmental journey. This post will be followed immediately by a post with useful information.

I moved to Ellensburg. During this transitional period I'm having difficulty focusing on environmentalism. I never stopped thinking about it, I just couldn't muster the energy to consciously do something. Namely, to research and write.

Weaning off of my car has been far and away the most difficult life change (**but extremely important to do, and not impossible ... just want to make that clear**). I've readily made excuses and justifications for driving, and while some of them are understandable (if not forgivable), most of them boiled down to my addiction to my own convenience. However, I did ride the bus quite a bit and tried to consolidate errands/visits if I felt I "had" to drive. Now I'm in Ellensburg and my car's parked in Seattle temporarily. I'm doing a lot of walking and I'm conquering my fear about bike riding (pretty easy in this town, the traffic's minimal and the landscape is basically flat).

I noticed before my move that after not driving for several days, I felt pretty tripped out behind the wheel. The freeway traffic unnerves me. I'm not sure it's a good activity for so many people to be engaged in at once. The injuries from my two car accidents (I was a passenger) illustrated to me how little we truly acknowledge how dangerous these machines are, not to mention harmful to the planet.

It's not necessary to think cars are "bad" in and of themselves, in order to acknowledge their destructive capacity. I know we rely on cars. It's not our fault that we were born into this car culture. If we know what's really happening, though, and we can see the direction the Earth is heading and what might lie ahead for our great-great-grandchildren, or their children ... if we then choose to cling to our cars (and our green lawns in July, and our disposable toilet brushes...) then that is our fault. We cannot wait for corporations and governments to make this a priority. Until I finally listened to the evidence and began to reconcile my life to positive change, I had either taken the fatalist's view or that of compassionate ignorance. I never acknowledged the possibility that "they" weren't going to do anything about it, because preserving the earth for generations to come requires the sacrifice of personal convenience, or at least that is what our culture has led us to believe.

How do you define convenient? I have moved to a small town where I can walk or bike to everything I need. My house is so small (and I share it with another person) that a lot of things are in reach from wherever I sit. I feel like a millionaire. I am living like royalty compared to most of the people in the world. Between us we have three computers and one out in the shed. We have clean water from the tap, organic food in the fridge, heaters, hot water, plenty of space for the things we really need. Even the cat lives well. We could be living more sustainably but it's a learning and deprogramming process that demands time.

There are cultural, spiritual, and economic imbalances which are creating the enormous imbalance in our natural environment. There is no model in nature for unchecked growth, and this growth in our population will undo us. Unchecked growth of capitalism will undo us as well. Corporations in a capitalist economy will NEVER have "enough" money. They will never stop making money if there is money to be made.

Corporations exist to make money and the government exists to ... well, that's a tough one to answer. In my mind, the current United States government exists primarily to make war, build an empire, and further the extreme agenda of the ruling party. I imagine that most of the individual members of the government do not lie in bed at night and wish for war and suffering. But has the government of this country begun to emulate the corporation? In which there are a few select people at the top (a preponderance of white men) who benefit the most from the way the organization functions and they intend to keep it that way?


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