STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS

so, this all started with my attending the terry sponsored presentation by wade davis which led me to the terry website and there i saw the notice of a writing contest…i knew i had to get something scratched out as i keep looking for things to contribute towards and wanted to continue the trend; but the trick was finding a starting point yet with so many topics to choose it difficult to figure out where to start, so i’ll just jump right into the middle of it all

totalitarian agriculture, food under lock and key, the myth of progress combined with the ‘necessity’ of growth, the banality of evil, globalization are some of themes that run through my head; understanding them is difficult enough but determining methods to counter them are even more of a challenge

what frustrates me is during my brief lifespan, humans have truly wreaked havoc on this planet and i can see that the culmination of much of this reckless behaviour is going to occur in my lifespan – blood diamonds, ruined landscapes, chemical spills, species extinction, global warming, HIV/AIDS, 9/11, counter terrorism and countless other disasters that occur everyday on small and large scales alike

what does one do to improve the outlook for both the planet and children because they are the ones that will have to deal with the consequences and we’ve always known this, yet in Daniel Quinn’s words, the Mother Culture lulls us into a stupor that helps us ignore and even belittle all the warning signs…the Mother Culture teaches that before the agricultural revolution life was ugly, worthless and miserable because those people were ignorant , uneducated and lived like animals without security (in their food supply), without comfort and without opportunity

so how did humans survive for three million years before this ‘revolution’? it wasn’t by sheer luck; humans were and are part of a larger community on this planet, not a separate creation destined to rule everything else – we live by the same basic principles every living creature must obey and that includes limits on population, when the population gets too large and consumes too much it will collapse

we live in an age that humans have never seen with millions of people flying around the world, millions of tonnes of cargo crossing the oceans every day, telecommunications that allow access to information in an instant…we can send robots to other planets and send probes to the bottoms of the oceans but what does all this technology amount to? i’m reminded of a scene from the movie Contact in which Palmer Joss is being interviewed by Larry king (go see the movie)

JOSS
Well, let me start this way, Larry.
What has science done for you
lately?

LARRY KING
Besides letting me broadcast this
program all over the world?

JOSS
(smiles)
Besides that. Or better, I’ll give
you that, but tell me this: Are
you happier? Are we happier? Is
our would fundamentally a better
place?

Don’t get me wrong — we’re smart,
Larry. We shop at home, we surf the
net…and we feel emptier and
lonelier and more cut off from each
other than at any other time in
human history…

– – –

ever since i was in grade school, i’ve seen magazine covers shouting out weight loss fads and thirty years later i see the same claims to ‘lose 10 pounds in two weeks’; obesity rates in the west are skyrocketing such that cookie monster now eats veggies; children are being driven to schools at a ridiculous rate, sacrificing a 15 minute opportunity to breathe in real air and interact with their community, and what a waste of fuel this is but i suppose some will argue that both parents need to work as housing costs have increased at a faster rate than incomes in the past thirty years

this however leads to another line of thought as i and those i work with wonder where all the money is going? and this leads to the other question of the necessity for growth in economies – you read it in the papers and it is the basis for start up companies, they attract money from investors based on the potential for a substantial return on the investment – i suppose it revolves back to wall street and gordon gecko’s speech on how ‘greed is good’

but at what cost does greed come? well, we all know the answer to that, don’t we…environmental disasters, religious conflicts, human rights violations, civil wars, genocide, depression, obesity, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, HIV/AIDS

and then there’s the other six deadly sins (lust, gluttony, sloth, wrath, envy, pride) which really aren’t listed as such in the bible but that’s another story for another day

so what do we do about all of this? – i think the first thing is to start listening, listening to the bad news and making a decision to actively do something, here’s some of the things you can do, which are a bare minimum:

– remember the three R’s; the first of which is REDUCE – make smarter consumer choices and only get what you need, in all aspects of life; the second is REUSE; and the third and last R is RECYCLE which is the last resort because at this point the energy to produce the product has already been consumed – focus on the first two R’s

– travel efficiently; use a vehicle that is appropriate to your needs – if you need to drive then use the most fuel efficient vehicle you can afford and try ethanol enriched gas; fly less – this is probably one of the tougher things to actively do but we are entering an era of tough choices

– buy local; it uses less energy to get it to your home, supports local economies and is easier to ensure no exploitation occurred during production

– eat organic, especially if locally available – don’t worry if someone says they aren’t any more nutritious than regular food because that’s not the point

– get to know your neighbours – have a block party, send them postcards, mow their lawn, baby sit

– get involved with your elected representatives, especially if you have elections where you come from – they might actually listen because if you simply complain to the wind the politicians really won’t hear it

– read and write; there are so many good books out there that have been written during man’s tenure on this planet, seek them out and write down the ideas that stand out and add to them

– – –

my friend was recently laid off and received a fairly generous settlement which has given him time to reassess his employment possibilities and he has decided to become a sustainability consultant – what that is i have no idea but it must have some financial potential otherwise he wouldn’t have chosen it because underlying everything he does is an element of economic opportunism

to me he has not truly made a shift in the way he does things because after announcing his conversion to sustainability he emails a tale about his shopping adventures at Costco – i pointed this out to him but he failed to see the irony

to me part of the problem is so many people say their doing things for the environment and then turn around and point out how much money they saved by doing this or that; but i think you miss the whole point by basing the motive in dollar terms

it frustrates me because we live in a capitalist society that focuses on the ‘bottom line’ rather than in the social benefit or the ecological benefit of our decisions; the whole sustainability ‘industry’ is based on allowing humans to continue doing what we do and i really don’t think that way of life is sustainable because it’s so dependent the exploitation of other people…

drinking that cup of coffee in your hands has a cost even if it is fair trade coffee: land had to be cleared to grow the coffee beans; workers still have to purchase food at market prices which may fluctuate beyond the income generated from growing coffee instead of growing food for their own consumption; energy is expended in transporting those beans which uses oil which in a long loop funds terrorist groups; further energy is expended in the processing of those beans into the coffee you drink; the coffee is dispensed into disposable containers more often than not and these containers required further resources for their production (perhaps the paper was even bleached producing carcinogenic compounds), sugar is sometimes added to the coffee which like the coffee are grown on land that could have produced food for those that live in sugar producing regions let alone the energy required for processing and transport; others add milk or cream to their coffee produced by antibiotic loaded cows producing pus filled milk, living in overcrowded conditions; those cups most commonly are tossed into the garbage even though they are recyclable adding more stuff to the landfills; then you have to go pee more often because of the diuretic effect of the coffee wasting water and introducing caffeine into the environment with it’s potentially toxic effects on wildlife

now i bet you’ll be arguing, well i use a reusable container and don’t add sugar or milk; so what, i bet you wear organic cotton and bike to school, whoopee f**king doo – why don’t you go have a seat and think seriously why you need that cup of coffee – we live in a sleep deprived society that is so self involved in so many activities to get an education in hopes of getting a high paying job so that we can buy the things advertisers tell us to so that we can have the illusion of happiness; or you can go look up the statistics and ramifications of sleep deprivation – bet you won’t like that either

what people need to do is fight back, turn the world upside down and reevaluate the messages we keep hearing: buy this, go see that, get an education, the masters degree is the new bachelors, get vaccinated, bottle not breast, 400 HP of turbocharged power with sixty airbags to protect you from other stupid drivers, you’re either with us or against us, don’t pay for sixty days…you get the message (over and over, day after day)

now go away and study for that exam or finish that assignment but tomorrow i want you to get up and think – consider why you have fallen for the trap of credentialism, think about how you will educate others, think about calling your parents and thanking them for the s***ty world their generation left the planet in, think about how you’re going to do things different before your kids call you and thank you for the s***ty job you’re doing

good night and good luck for i was supposed to stick to 2000 words or thereabouts but you can bet i have more to say…

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terryman

Raised by wolves on Burnaby Mountain, Wes learned to forage for academic credits on the SFU campus. Emerging several years later at UBC, Wes found refuge in the basement of the Cunningham Building. Using the steam tunnels to access the libraries at night, Wes began to understand that all was not right in the world. After being publicly labeled a Luddite, Wes decides to take up that banner and utilizes the internet to continue the fight (irony noted). Hopefully, with the assistance of like minded individuals, a strategy for the sustainable continuance of the human endeavor can be achieved and implemented. You can write to Wes at vancouverwes@gmail.com or go visit his blog at vancouverwes.blogspot.com

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