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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Can we find the will and the muscle to ensure our human survival?

There is a strong “current” in the political/diplomatic world that mirrors the dramatic shifts in climate we are also witnessing. Some might call this a global “pathetic fallacy” where the climate and the human drama are “in sync”…the outside world reflecting the atmosphere and the temperature and the “forecast” of what is going on inside the corridors of power.

Only this scenario differs from the traditional “pathetic fallacy” in that from a moderate reading of the evidence, one has to conclude that human agency is at the core of both dynamics. Humans, and here we mean specifically the worst demons of our kind, are increasingly demonstrating their power and influence, while the more moderate, more modest and more trust-worthy of our angels seem to be idling silently on the beaches.

 Our climate is under considerable, mounting, empirically verifiable strain, so much that if it were a human body, it would be in Intensive Care, and extreme measures to stop the bleeding, and to restore full consciousness and to bring the “patient” back to full health would be underway. And there is little reasonable dispute about the human agency in our self-sabotaging contamination of our air, water and land. Nor is there any serious dispute that steps to slow the disaster are uneven, meagre, and insufficient. Some countries are taking the evidence seriously, while many, including especially North America, seems complacent, uninterested and uncommitted to serious remedial actions like saving water, using clean energy in all transportation, and transitioning to a primarily “plant” diet.

Concurrent with our darkening horizon on the climate “front” we are witnessing  growing storm clouds on the geopolitical “front”…nerve gas, from whatever source having poisoned a Russian double agent and his daughter in Salisbury, UK, and some 100 “diplomats” have been sent home to Russia from a host of European and “western” nations, in protest. Our collective response, however, much like our disjointed and meagre responses to the dangers of climate change and global warming are unlikely to have much impact in changing the attitudes and actions of Putin and his cohorts in the Kremlin. Attempting to restore the “glory of Russia” as if it were a physical edifice that could be rebuilt by building invulnerable missile systems, capable of carrying nuclear bombs that can strike anywhere in the world, mirrors (or perhaps imitates) the “make America great again” slogan of the U.S. administration’s budget increase of $54 billion to the Pentagon.

As these immature, emotionally, psychically and spiritually bankrupt “leaders” empty that word of its integrity and authenticity, (demonstrating a kind of hollow braggadocio worthy of a Kim Jung Un) bellicose rhetoric, impulsive and helter-skelter actions like tariff announcements, transgender bans, retaliation and school-yard taunts parade across the headlines of dailies and televisions screens. Tawdry sexual affairs, secreting of billions of ill-gotten funds in foreign bank accounts in countries desperate for the business of these thugs, and total disdain for even a modicum of respect for the people these “leaders” serve (as if they were even conscious of their legal, moral, political and historic obligations in that regard) characterize the new “norm” in this global reality television show.

We have, con-jointly, participated in morphing our public debates into little more than another reality television show, populated by scripts that feed on the narcissistic motives of the worst among us, contemptuous of even the existence of the people, who by their ritualistic fixation on the “extreme” drama and their collective silence (far short of the intense and authentic protest of the adolescent chorus protesting the proliferation of all weapons!)

·        The proliferation of a new kind of serfdom in the workplace, aided and abetted by the thugs on top, and
·        the prospect of an significant increase in military rhetoric and conflict in more and more locations (witness the appointment of one john bolton who has written abundantly about the need to bomb Iran and to wage war on North Korea to the National Security Advisor’s Chair),
·        masked by a stock-market that jolts up and down with every knee-jerk tweet from the Oval Office
·        and mounting evidence of betrayal of private information for the purpose of manipulation votes in Great Britain, the United States, Nigeria, and who knows where else
·        the disclosures of an adult film actor of an affair, plus hush money just 11 days prior to the 2016 American presidential election
·        the disclosures of millions of questionable loans to the president’s son-in-law, plus evidence from foreign governments about their open and blatant desire and plan to manipulate the neophyte “diplomat”

….taken individually, these might not amount to too much to worry about. Cumulatively, however, they erode whatever modicum of confidence in public institutions, national governments, and public officials remained following the election of November 2016.

The report of the provincial and federal Auditors General, (the first time they have ever collaborated on any report) on how prepared Canadian provinces and the federal government are to meet the threat of climate change and global warming, leaves all Canadians scratching our heads, wondering, “When are we going to get our act together, take this threat seriously and show some political will and muscle sin our own defence.

Whether or not we have entered a new and different “cold war” with the Russians, and whether or not China is about to subvert the international trading system, and whether or not the North Koreans are going to limit (certainly not eliminate) their nuclear program, and whether or not a new arms race has already begun, and whether or not the Second Amendment could be abolished (as advocated today by former Supreme Court Justice Stevens, in the New York Times)…and whether or not the United Kingdom will leave the European Union (with or without a second vote, based on the subversion of the first)….

These are all questions hanging in the air. And depending on which country we live in, and which accounts we are reading and listening to, we are, most of us at least, apparently on the high side of fear, anxiety, despair and in some quarters, despondent about the potential for a lowering of tensions, threats and divisions.

Underlying all of the issues, too, is the ancient history-long divide between races, religions, ethnicities and economic classes. No matter the names on the conflicting cohorts, (the Rohinga’s versus the Muslims, the Protestants versus the Catholics, the blacks versus the whites, the caucasians versus the indigenous, the master versus the “slave” (workers, whose status, support, security and respect have all atrophied in a wash “down the many rivers” of commerce), the rich versus the poor, the developed world versus the developing world……there is a deficit of both political will and creative approaches to beginning the process of reconciliation in most of these “control dramas” (that’s what they would be called if they were occurring between two people).

All of these differences, conflicts, cleansings, wars and insurrections are not going to matter very much if and when there is not enough food, clean water, and fertile land, with life-sustaining temperatures to sustain human, animal and plant life. Sharing responsibility for our individual and collective survival seems like the handwriting on the walls of all of the cities, towns villages and underground tubes. Although it is certainly not an original concept, perhaps if we were all to focus directly, seriously, persistently, passionately and purposefully on the prospect of a a shared planet with finite resources for survival, and each of us make the commitment to change our attitudes, our behaviours and especially our willingness to sacrifice for the survival of not only our children and grandchildren, but also for the survival of all of the millions (billions) of people around the world who, one has to guess, want a world in which their children and grandchildren can live healthy, productive and rewarding lives, long into the future.

Is this dangerous moment in time adequate to help us all remove the blinders, the denials, the excuses and the resistances from our minds, ears eyes and hearts…those same resistances that keep us locked in our enclaves, our ghettos, our sanctuaries, our executive offices, our board rooms, our bars and restaurants…and stretch ourselves beyond our current comfort zone, in order to achieve a universal comfort zone of sustainable survival for all, no matter our specific identity?


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