Thinking Out Loud
All at Risk
By Brent McMillan, Political Director Green Party of the United States
I have been involved in farming for almost 25 years now. Each year when I fill out my tax forms, on the Schedule F: Profit or Loss From Farming I check a box, ìAll investment is at risk.î For many of us in the Green Party we realized, long before most Americans, that all is at risk. Those that think that they will be able to keep what they have, as we move further and further into corporatism, are in denial.
How has American culture moved further and further from sustainability, democracy and community and become more and more corporate based? Food, transportation, housing, and media, all have become dominated by corporate interests. This didnít happen over night, it happened gradually. Like erosion, this process of gradualism breeds complacency; that is there is no response until the last piece of foundation sand and rock gives way and the house it was supporting just topples off the cliff. No one feels a sense of urgency as it occurs over the years.
My Celtic forebears in Scotland learned an important lesson. They were invaded many times and often outnumbered. They learned when youíre outnumbered enlist the land.
They found that if you could find a pinch point in the landscape and get there first you could stop a larger force from advancing. I wonít go into the gory details here of how they did it. But there is an important lesson there for us greens. Currently we are badly outnumbered. Yet the need for our beneficial presence in the culture is immense. For us our pinch point is global warming, climate change, the collapsing U.S. dollar, peak oil, peak everything. We need to position ourselves there now. We need to be building and living working models for how to remain human as these issues play out. We need to be communicating the solutions that we have learned through our experience. This is not a technical problem. There is nothing new that needs to be invented. This is a cultural problem. It is a question of will.
We are currently witnessing a massive corporate greenwashing. Corporations realize they cannot ignore these issues so they are paying them lip service, but have no intent of substantially changing. They say, yes peak oil is coming. Climate change is happening therefore, let us drill offshore now and build more nuclear power plants for the future. They are fundamentally incapable of grasping the full nature of the problem.
When I lived in Washington State I would go to a place called Ocean Shores where there is a jetty built by the Corps of Engineers years ago. Its intent was to keep silt from accumulating in a nearby harbor so shipping could get through. When I go there I am struck by the arrogant thinking that we could control the Pacific Ocean. I watch as the waves crash into the jetty and spray goes a hundred feet into the air. As a result of the man-made jetty the coastline north of there is eroding. As a result of this erosion condominiums and hotels are slowly but surely falling into the ocean. Now there is real power.
I frequently meditate on this idea, ìThere are those that say they know but donít do. They donít know.î What do you know that you should be doing but have found that youíre just not there yet? What do you need to get there? The solutions often lie in community. ëIí canít do it, but ëweí can. Community solutions are often cooperative in nature. In Seattle, we saw the development of Voluntary Simplicity Circles. In Washington, D.C. I have seen the beginning of support groups for people who are working to ìunclutterî their lives. Who is your support group? Who are the people who have got your back? If you start making a list, it might pleasantly surprise you.
Brent McMillan contributes a regular column for Green Pages. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or share your thoughts at the Green Pages blog: www.gp.org/greenpages.