German Santa Claus by TYWKIWDBI
The mountains of plastic and fossil fuel based junk that is peddled and sold over the holidays is staggering and eye-opening -- this stuff is sold all year long! Watching folks struggle with ponderous stacks of Christmas catalogues at the local post office is both humorous and sobering. Watching a snappy young mover and shaker toss a mound of snappy catalogues into the back seat of a brand new black shiny Hummer is illustrative of where we are. We are lost, unenlightened and fooled. Fooled by the ease, beauty and propaganda of our fossil fuel based world. The climate is changing, the earth is warming, and, on our present track, we will build a place of ugliness and strife for our children and grandchildren. The current petrified, anachronistic American Dream will kill Santa Claus.
Most current discussion on this subject sets up an us and them scenario. However, we are us and we are them. We are all actors in this unfolding drama to varying degrees. To parse and delineate and quantify and judge now is like judging participators in genocide based on where they stood during the atrocities, whether they carried weapons or not.
We, the environmental and cultural cognoscenti; the enlightened ones, are very smug and proud of our enlightenment. We gleefully, albeit with tasteful, restrained glee, douse our "ignorant" brethren with a constant stream of "informed" verbal chastisement and recrimination as if we are all pristine residents of Bilbo's Shire.
For me the perfect storm of enlightenment happened in 1977. I was in college in Austin, Texas and among my other classes, I was taking an environmental studies class, an economics class and a sociology class. The country was in the throes of an energy crises -- it appeared that we were running out of fossil fuels, they were rapidly becoming more expensive. I wrote a paper for one of those classes, I don't remember which, entitled "We Will Live In Our Four Hundred Sq. Foot Garages and Burn Our Homes for Fuel." President Jimmy Carter had just given a speech about energy:
"If we wait, and do not act, then our factories will not be able to keep our people on the job with reduced supplies of fuel. Too few of our utilities will have switched to coal, our most abundant energy source.
We will not be ready to keep our transportation system running with smaller, more efficient cars and a better network of buses, trains and public transportation. We will feel mounting pressure to plunder the environment.
We will have a crash program to build more nuclear plants, strip-mine and burn more coal, and drill more offshore wells than we will need if we begin to conserve now. Inflation will soar, production will go down, people will lose their jobs. Intense competition will build up among nations and among the different regions within our own country."
If we fail to act soon, we will face an economic, social and political crisis that will threaten our free institutions."
Climate Change was not on the radar back then. My paper was more concerned with the direct, immediate effects of shortages, air and water pollution and social unrest. The main premise of my piece was that we were living as a species without self-awareness -- that Capitalism had failed and the design of our cities and suburbs, without the immediate embracing of alternative energy sources (solar), would become environmentally and socially unlivable. I would talk about this stuff to anyone that would listen. Ninety-nine percent of the folks I verbally accosted thought I was completely insane. I remember giving my Dad the presentation -- he just stared at me, then, abruptly left the room.
I've been thinking about this stuff for over thirty-five years -- the vast majority of Americans my age and older have never really pondered any of this. Younger Americans are aware at some level but are agnostic. The challenge for those of us that are aware and do understand the immediacy of the problems we face and the unavoidable changes and choices that we need to make as a species -- is communication. We need to educate and open dialogue, not intimidate. We must acknowledge and embrace our kinship and shared experience. We must empathize and seek communion with those that are not on the same page as us, for whatever reason.
Chris Hedges posted an article here click here recently. It is chilling. Now, we must find ways to talk about this with those that are not inclined to listen. No one really wants to kill Santa Claus?