Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Should we, a decade or so ago, call for a moratorium on Quaker grannies flying about to visit grandchildren and/or to Appreciate the world?
[See http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/27714-are-humans-going-extinct -- Guy McPherson is not the most reassuring scientific viewpoint out there, but might well, in cold fact, turn out to be the most accurate...]
Human civilization is clearly way out past the cliff edge, ready to enjoy a Wiley Coyote Moment should we chance to look down. Noble gestures can at best "let us think we're doing something." But it does feel wrong that Quakers should go on blithely doing our bits for destruction, just like our heedless neighbors...
What? Too grumpy to read the joke. .. Couldn't get past the "Quaker Granny", being one of course.
The only things "uncertain" about what you are calling 'the future' -- though the extreme and intractable weather conditions which the models clearly predict are already a feature of our lives -- is "How bad, how soon, is this going to get?" -- and "Will those processes reach any plausible stopping point while we still have a viable atmosphere for mammals larger than a shoebox?"
The time to focus on what we are doing to the world's future -- would have been before we'd done so much of it. At this time, there may be time to say "We're sorry." And after that, you may hope for a miracle; I so hope, myself.
Well, I was going to read it, I really was. It sounds like something important. Nothing could be sillier than getting offended by comments on the Internet. Quaker Granny just really makes me feel really bad. Especially since I was even thinking how fun a gathering of Quaker Grandmothers would be. I know I am missing the point. I must be a befuddled Quaker Granny. bye then.
Not to cast any particular aspersions on Quaker grannies for their own sweet sakes, but observing that many of them seem to combine money, leisure, and an innocent desire for sociability & edification -- into blithely contributing to the destruction of the world they'd want their grandchildren able to live in.
While it's particularly destructive to put greenhouse gases directly into the higher layers of the atmosphere -- I can't say that running around in Priuses -- which do, after all, need to be manufactured in the first place -- is necessarily worse than paying for a passenger's share of an airliner's depredations. None of this as useless or horrendous as military aviation...
But why do nice people keep destroying the world? Could we somehow do something less reasonable, and not destroy it?
Sorry Forrest, this is just too ridiculous. I see now that you really were calling out a particular group. I am out of this discussion.
Forest I think we have a cooking a frog situation here. Some of us don't realize this nice warm comfortable life is getting warmer by the minute and many of us who do will get out in a minute or two just not right now.
Yeah, James, I'd try to 'get out' myself if I could see how; at least I hope I would.
No Quaker Grannies were massacred in the writing of this post... I just happen to have more of them than businessmen or military travellers among my friends.
Travelling is a good... but maybe we need more sail transportation?
If minds could change, could see clear of the tobacco-doctor delusions that have got this country burning-the-oil-now-before-the-crash, if we can quit smoking industrial civilization, in time... There was, probably still is, a San Francisco Friend who normally won't even accept rides in an automobile.
But meanwhile, the best of us are saying 'maybe a little less', at best.
I am going to get off the topic of nursing my indignation on the Grandmother thing until I finish my essay on the in Praise of The Calling to be a Quaker Grandmother and get back to the point. I am sure many, if not most Friends of all stripes include some kind of Earth care practice in their lives. All of us who care, Quaker or nay, make changes some big and some small. Small changes, not using disposable diapers or women's products, plastic bags. Some of us feel being a vegetarian is a more conscious choice, both environmentally and Ahimsa wise, and some of us forgo automobile transportation as much as possible, eschew plastic, avoid consumer certain consumer products. Some of us change our behavior, some of us are activists, some of us are radical activists. Some of us recycle, some of us point out that it would be best if the recycled products were never produced or purchased in the first place. The Prius argument you bring up is a good one, yes I do drive a Prius. But yes, it is pointed out that such a product had to be manufactured and then shipped on a devastatingly polluting cargo ships. I live part of the time in a town where I can almost entirely forgo driving but then, to get to that town there is some Quaker Granny travel involve. On the Prius thing, here is my reasoning. Yea, it would be better if I could give up cars altogether and perhaps I will someday soon. If I do use technology, if I pay for a product that is a small technological step to make the planet healthier, that is one small step that combined with other people's purchases, makes producing environmentally safer products more economically viable. Money just talks, okay? Of course, since adolescence I have been a bit of a Utopist, I liked to throw my lot in with various Intentional Community schemes and in the 70s I actually thought, that a more immediate and radical change was possible. But I was 17 then. I still believe the way I did at 17 at core, I just know that things are infinitely more complex then I understood then. I know there are admirable people who manage to live with very little backlash for the planet, or they say they do. I lived on a Sustainable Farm in Northern California the early part of this century, and my friends grew all their own food, we had passive solar, and my friends were moving towards the idea of not even digging the earth up at all to cultivate food. I still used wood to heat, so that put smoke into the atmosphere. Also my friends rarely drove at all, rarely went to into the town, but survival sometimes needed to trade with the "big world". Nevertheless, it was nice because they weren't holier than thou about it. They had been doing this since they met at Berkeley in the 60s. If you have ever read Alcott's "Fruitlands" , okay that might not be the right title, nevertheless the Transcendentalists became so overwrought in their environmental and philosophical desire to not exploit anything that their best efforts towards progress failed. One can take a completely radical stance and remove their body from the planet I suppose and only hope that in that effort to stop polluting and exploiting this planet that one's final act does not have too deleterious an effect. Self-immolation might cause toxins and pollution. An asthmatic person could have an attack triggered by the smoke from the burning body and then they might have to use their inhaler, which came in plastic packaging. I suppose dying of hypothermia in the woods and leaving oneself as food for an endangered species would be okay, but one would have to make sure that one went to the woods naked and did not leave any clothing with plastic or synthetic materials to disturb the environment. Also, the transportation to the scene of environmental sacrifice is troublesome, as driving one's Prius wouldn't work at all. What to do, what to do? There's a great song, "I'm a better anarchist than you", available on Youtube, but the one in which the fellow tells his accompanying story I can't find right now. It has to do with a long march in protest in Europe and how consensus failed on some point. Perhaps it was the monks who disagreed and felt that the mules who were pulling the supplies were being abused, anyway, some group disagreed. And the song tells such a story. . Luddism has its attractions, but for me that is a fun romance, I can't pretend I have a deep rugged freedom from technology nor hatred of human civilization and every single thing humans do and create and need to be what we are. . .
Steps. Here in Montana people haven't caught on that our wild endless spaces are not infinite. So, recycling is even new here. So, one thing is, Recycling, supporting the recycling center monetarily and setting the example. The Prius. The bike riding. The vegetarianism. Human practices whenever possible regarding animals. Taking action in many quiet and sometimes loud ways about exploitation of humans on multiple levels. The non-use of plastic bags. The walking along the river and picking up plastic and garbage. The quiet education of others about some of these practices, until more and more people agree and do these practices.
Here's an idea that struck me some time back when I was talking to a Jewish friend. I went to grad school at an Adventist university and they were very serious about Sabbath. Those lights in the library are going out Friday afternoon. so you better get out fast.
So what would an Earth Sabbath do? Would a day of lights out, power-down, no shopping, no selling, no business, transportation for emergencies only, not as a special spiritual day, since as Friends every day is Holy, but as a planetary stewardship measure do? Either Saturday or Sunday, whatever. Or another day, non-religious, although people could use the day for human rest and spiritual contemplation too. Adventists have an image in their minds of stopping work and dropping to their knees in prayer as Sabbath begins and how that practice moves visibly across the planet as Adventists everywhere honor and practice Sabbath. How would it effect the planet if this sort of browning out happened, regularly, across the globe. .
Yeah, guess it is as much of a dream as my 17 year old Utopist beliefs. I would have self-immolated long ago, or somehow ended it, if I didn't think there was some point to my life, some reason to live, some work to finish, some hope for humanity, if I thought that I really was just taking up space on the planet and then ending up a Quaker Granny, with nothing to offer, who should be jailed somewhere for taking up space and using up more of the planet's energy and doing nothing but leaving a pile of garbage for the future. Pretty grim .
That "Earth-Sabbath" idea, I like. It even fits with the prophetic comment (after the Babylonian conquest) that "Now the land will finally get the Sabbaths you weren't giving it." I'd like to do this without having to radically depopulate first!
But probably it would need to be more like: "six days not messing w things" to "one day of wrecking havoc"? Not 'six days of rest,' because we'd still have more than enough needed-done, alas.
It's a very complicated world in which we live. I have stopped using one neighborhood non-franchise drug store because I didn't like the posters in their window only to find out the one I switched to was partly owned by the owner of the first one. However, I still firmly believe the only thing we have control over is our pocket book. The less we spend on certain items the less profitable it is to the modern corporations that reign in place of the Kings of the past. Another way we can fight for a simpler life is to refrain from making every dollar we can and limit ourselves to making just enough to meet our needs and not our wants. The less money we earn the less taxes we pay. Maybe there will be one less bomb to drop but even if there isn't I will know I tried to deliver the message (see Ezekiel 33:2 to 6).
Friends are at their best when they take things personally.
One day John Woolman could no longer deal with writing a bill of sale for some customer’s slave. That was the turning point. Did he spend the rest of his life as a shopkeeper refusing to write certain documents? No! He spent the rest of his life traveling and worshiping with Quaker slaveowners, so that the power of God came over them and they couldn’t own slaves either.
Most of us are uneasy with the government’s parade of oil wars. Do we simply not enlist in the army? No! We actively work against the oil wars in many ways. We use our minds when we counter-recruit. Some of us study nonviolence as an academic discipline. Some of us are regularly right out there in public abhorring wars.
Now we come to a simple question of whether grandmas will abstain from flying to see their grandchildren. Maybe some will, but is that the lifetime end of their protest or the turning point?
As for me, I have recycled newspapers in 1979 when all of recycling was one tiny experiment over one square mile of houses. I rode my bike in the 1970s when I was a complete goon and not a hipster for doing this. I’ve been arrested. I’ve walked in long-distance peace marches. I attended weekly peace vigils for years. I can do the symbolic protests, but in my opinion that’s not what shall truly inhibit climate change.
In the 1940s the March of Dimes raised funds to conquer polio. They funded the Salk and Sabin vaccines. Those were different times, when Jonas Salk said that he didn’t want to make money on the vaccine, but he only wanted to end polio. Someday soon you shall read that polio in the wild has been eradicated from the last village in northwestern Pakistan, and so it’s now gone from the face of the earth.
This can happen again with solar. I believe that worldwide climate change is certainly inhibited on every day that any major solar energy product gets cheaper and more effective. Speaking as an experienced inventor holding two solar patents and counting, I believe that companies aren’t experimenting hard enough on the cutting edge of backyard solar energy products, the kind of products that can be rolled out and ramped up quickly. In my opinion a March of Dimes-style campaign for solar product development would win a great victory soon.
Would this cause some kind of capitalist food fight over the new solar? It might. As a world we might be willing pay that price. However, it’s just as likely that we can own our own heat and electricity.
So, my advice to grandmothers is, fly as long as you can. Just don’t expect that not flying is the end-all.