News Flash #1: Anti-Bush bumper stickers and a heartfelt commitment to recycled toilet paper don’t constitute a movement. Neither do candlelight vigils, vegan diets, petitions, voting drives, letters to Congress, monthly donations to Greenpeace, yellow ribbons, red ribbons, pink ribbons, or becoming the change you wish to see in the world. All you need is love? Yeah…that and a million dollars a minute (what America spends on war).
Americans wield more influence and power than any people on the planet but, while an obscene number of humans in this world live in abject poverty, we live our lives in such a manner as to threaten every living thing on Earth. For example: A primary component in your beloved cell phone is “Coltan” (Columbite-tantalite), a metallic ore found mainly in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The mining and sale of Coltan is not only funding both sides of that nation’s brutal civil war, it has directly contributed to a 90% decline in the local Mountain Gorilla population.
News Flash #2: In America, there are no innocent bystanders.
*Epidemics of preventable diseases: cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc.
*Poisoning of our air, water, an food (including mother’s breast milk)
*Global warming, climate change, animal and plant extinctions, disappearing honeybees, destruction of the rain forest, topsoil depletion, etc.
*1/3 of Americans uninsured or underinsured when it comes to health care
*More than half of the world’s top 100 economies are corporations, not nations
*A rising income gap
*Presidential lies, electoral fraud, limited debates, etc.
*The largest prison population on the planet
*Corporate control of public land, public airwaves, and public pensions
*Overt infringement of our civil liberties
*Bloated defense budget, unilateral military interventions, war crimes committed in our name, legalization of torture, blah, blah, blah...
Before you know it, the government might start spying on American citizens and detaining prisoners without charges while corporations ravage the earth in pursuit of profit, wiping out entire eco-systems in the process. Oops, sorry…they’re already doing all that without being stopped.
Take a look at your watch. Since yesterday at this hour, 13 million tons of toxic chemicals were released across the globe; two hundred thousand acres of rainforest were destroyed; more than 100 plant or animal species went extinct; and 45,000 human beings died of starvation (most of them children).
Ask yourself this: Which do you prefer, a consumer culture or an ozone layer? SUVs or Redwoods? Cell phones or Mountain Gorillas? Would you give up the ability to text your BFF in order to save a species from going extinct?
The humans (and all living things) that come after us won’t care if we religiously read websites like this or we marched in parades (I mean, protests) or we held open doors for little old ladies…if they have no clean air. They won’t care if we voted for Obama or McCain…if they have no clean water. It won’t matter to them if we ate organic or drove a hybrid or switched to an energy efficient light bulb…if they end up stuck on a toxic, inhabitable planet.
If anything, they’d probably just want to ask us this: What in the world did you have against your planet and yourself? After all, they’d assume, if we didn’t despise our planet—and ourselves—why would we stand by and let everything be consumed or poisoned or destroyed.
But before that question is asked of us, we still have time to ask this: Will we ever disrupt our comfortable lives and dedicate ourselves to stopping—by any means necessary—global warming, US military interventionism, economic exploitation, factory farming, environmental devastation, etc. or will we continue defending “our way of life”?
The US constitutes 5% of the earth’s population but consumes more than 25% of the earth’s resources.
Mickey Z. is the author of the forthcoming novel, CPR for Dummies (Raw Dog Screaming Press). He can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net