Ethics & Morality
May 3, 2010 at 4:35 pm
This is horrible, but I can’t help but feel helpless in the midst of all this.
What do we do about this, other than watch and feel helpless?
I do take small comfort in the fact that we can do a lot to screw up nature, but she’ll always win in the end.
May 3, 2010 at 5:09 pm
Well said Ned.
As this disaster unfolds I’ve been thinking a lot about my role, however small, in bringing it about.
Will deep sea stop because of this? I still need to travel to Kansas to visit my family. I need the oil and as long as I keep buying it there will be a corporation to supply it too me.
My only hope is that this disaster brings about legislation that makes drilling safer. Will tighter regulation cause us to pay more for our resources? Will it cut the profit margins for energy companies? God, I hope so.
May 3, 2010 at 5:55 pm
We need to more fervently support legislation that provides alternatives. There is talk of a light rail from Chicago to Minneapolis. That could really reduce car traffic and even plane flights between those cities and all the commuters between.
We need to support urban development that favors city centers so that people drive a minimum distance to get their food, entertainment, and shopping. We need to support greener campuses where students are encouraged, if not forced, to walk or ride bikes.
We need to walk more. We need to become more involved in supporting things like the wind farm on the coast of Mass.
We are helpless, to a degree. Even Obama has plans for drilling in the east coast. But he has also said some interesting things.
“When change is needed, change doesn’t come from Washington, it comes to Washington.” (He was referring to MLK’s march on the capital, but I think it applies).
Regarding the middle east, when asked by a reporter if he would enact change there he replied, “Make me enact change.”
We all feel culpapble for this, but we don’t think we have any control. What we need to remember is that this is THE issue of our time and we need to vote on it. We all voice cynicism about the government, but WE ARE the governement.
It is not in human nature to preserve the environment over our own comforts or even our survival. But we need to realize this is our survival. Who knows what life-giving and precious resources are going to be devastated by the destruction marshlands and oyster farms.
Ironically, at the museum of Modern Art, one proposal to preserve Manhattan’s geography in the face of global warming and rising water tides was to cultivate once indigenous oyster farms which promote other life which promote pioneer species, which counteract erosion. Exactly the stuff that is being destroyed in LA and elsewhere.
This is all connected. That is why I am passionate about wolf reintroduction, because we can restore ecosystems, IF we have the courage and will to see them through. We did it with wolves and bald eagles. But we have to value entire eco-systems, not partial ones. That is why when BP says, “We will pay for all cleanup costs.” I want to laugh. Are they going to buy the Lousiana wetlands from us? Is this okay with us? Does everything come down to the bottom line of monetary profit and loss?
Not in my book. Because I still, perhaps foolishly, still believe in things that are sacred.
May 3, 2010 at 7:35 pm
Thanks J.E., for putting into words my sense of shared culpability. I feel I do myself a disservice by automatically blaming oil companies. And if I want to drive my car, the oil still has to come from somewhere…and maybe in places where they aren’t as concerned about the environment. And I don’t want to get into the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality about my energy uses.
Sheesh, and I live in a city where we are fiercely reliant on cars. And I want to drive mine to go back to McPherson too. I like working from home, both from a monetary and environmental impact. On full tank lasts me over a month, usually.
And Ned, thanks for the litany of ideas. I think this is an issue where we can add new regulations, but I’m pretty sure there is already legal lines crossed and just a matter of enforcement. We need to do our part locally and hope it adds up to something nationally and globally.
Again, I think nature can handle herself pretty well in the end and takes care of a lot of our mess. There’s hope in that, it’s more an issue of our survival and “soul” of humanity.
Here’s hoping for cold fusion, or at least, Mr. Fusion and Doc Brown…..
May 4, 2010 at 7:09 am
Yes, I am culpable too, and will probably drive to McPherson over the summer.
A colleague recently said, “The environment, as we think of it in terms of areas of wilderness, was f#*%@!d the moment Ford and the automotive giants convinvced us that owning a car and driving everywhere was an expression of individual freedom.”
As for the litany, I’m sure, as usual, it sounded preachy and self-agrandizing, and I am glad that some tempered words make you feel better. Personally, I feel sad. And someone saying, “We will pay for all the cleanup…” turns that deep sadness into anger. And if you want to imply that through blaming the billion-dollar-profit oil companies, I do myself a disservice, you can do that. But I’m still riding my bike to work today.
Saying that the environment is resilient in the face of this is kind of like saying God is forgiving while driving the nail in. It may be true, but somehow seems to take something strangely for granted.
May 4, 2010 at 7:37 am
Well said all.
IF there is a bright side to all this it may be the people demand change. Or perhaps at least we begin to understand what energy consumption actually costs.
What I’m pretty sure we have to accept is that life must slow down for us. We have the expectation that we can go anywhere at any time at a high rate of speed. If convenience and speed are reduced on every level that will take us a long way, both practically and spiritually to a better tomorrow. No doubt it will be a slow process, but it begins with good governance and good governance begins with us.
The upside to this is that even as the environmental costs of moving our bodies through space increase, the costs of communication are going down even as the speed increases. As evidenced by this blog.
May 4, 2010 at 8:27 am
Ned, I just wanted to make sure somthing didn’t get lost in translation. You said “if you want to imply that through blaming the billion-dollar-profit oil companies, I do myself a disservice, you can do that….”
I wasn’t speaking about you or your motives at all, simply speaking to mine. So I hope you didn’t take my self reflection personally. I wanted to blame the Captains of Industry, but really I Just Want to Drive. That is a look inward to my motives…not assigning anything to you.
And as far as the idea that the environment is resilient, I am also speaking to myself and my set of beliefs mostly. I have to remind myself that we’re pretty insignificant on a global scale, and even moreso on a cosmic scale. It may be violent and soul retching, but there’s instruction in that for me. (I guess I am sort of letting my love for Flannery O’Connor show a little too.)
Here’s a question and a thought I had. We tend to think of the environment as other. Is it, and are we set apart from it? Or are WE environment too? Or when we say we’re taking the environment for granted, does it also mean we’re taking ourselves for granted?
I’m also curious about everyone’s thoughts on conservation, since I don’t dwell on it too often, and am curious. What is the balance between the static and the changing? I.e., extinction is an intrinsic part of nature. It’s happened for ages when we weren’t around to incite it. How much do we try to keep extinction from happening, and when do we say “it’s just part of nature?”
I don’t mean those two paragraphs above as loaded in any way. I am really curious how to work those ideas out in my mind.
Thanks for the dicussion, I am really loving this chance to talk things through with you guys and have a little electronic franternity here. (What could our Greek Letters be?)
May 4, 2010 at 9:03 am
I am the environment, no more, no less. But as a human I have an exponential potential to abuse or properly utilize the environment. Just as I would say, I do not have a soul, I am a soul. Yes, we are taking ourselves for granted, in my opinion.
I was not offended by what you say, Toby, I guess that was my back-handed way of saying that I do a fair amount of self-reflection too. Sorry if I can seem very aggressive in these exchanges, it’s kind of the way I am, even when I try to restrain myself.
I have strong opinions on conservation. Most of these relate to land use on the Midwest and Western U.S. as I have read a lot on this (which stemmed from my interest in wolves, coyotes, and foxes). I think the idea of interference is very interesting and I have complex opinions on that but perhaps too lengthy to write up now.
“We should be guardians, not gardeners.” – Adolph Murie
“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect. ”
“We shall never achieve harmony with land, any more than we shall achieve absolute justice or liberty for people. In these higher aspirations, the important thing is not to achieve but to strive.” – Aldo Leopold
I wrote an essay to go with some drawings recently, and I am wondering if you guys would want to read it?
May 4, 2010 at 11:49 am
I’ll read any essay you wish to share Ned.
In a related matter, I’ve been reading the plays of Edward Bond lately and thought of you throughout. Like you, he also aggressively expresses his ideas when writing in essay form but has a great deal of metaphorical subtlety though his art. If you’re so inclined start with “The Bundle” or “The Worlds.”
May 5, 2010 at 9:45 am
HAMM: We do what we can.
CLOV: We shouldn’t.
Samuel Beckett, ENDGAME
May 6, 2010 at 2:13 pm
I forget how funny Endgame is. I need to see it again, last time I saw it was at Kieran’s Irish Pub one holiday weekend. Every time it gets better….
Ned your essay deserves a seperate post, so I am going to repost if that’s okay with you and we can comment on it more there. Thanks for sharing, I don’t think you should hold back at all. I haven’t gotten through the entirety, but it’s good work. Good work, indeed.
Perhaps some earnestness and hope to temper the hilarious emptiness of Beckett, from Rilke, which I think is strangely apt with the images of oil floating on water skimming my mind:
So you must not be frightened
if a sadness rises up before you
larger than any you have ever seen;
if an anxiety, like light and cloud-shadows,
passes over your hands and over all you do.
You must remember that something is happening to you,
that life has not forgotten you
that it holds you in its hands,
and will not let you fall.
May 6, 2010 at 4:51 pm
Thanks for reading into it Toby. If you post it separately, could you please password protect it? Or I can. Thanks.
May 7, 2010 at 7:40 am
And the Rilke was much appreciated.
May 12, 2010 at 11:29 am
Watch this video.
May 12, 2010 at 11:53 am
I thought it was a joke until I saw it was the Huffington Post. That’s amazing. I wonder what the larger picture would be, but it seems feasible.
You must be logged in to post a comment.
© 2019 The Hollow Men
Theme by Anders Noren — Up ↑