Taking Care Of Old Mom Earth

(11 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

The oddest thoughts.

If I lived in suburbia and my dog ran out and pooped on my neighbor’s lawn, my neighbor would be angry.  My neighbor might tell me to clean it up.  S/he’d be much angrier if I spilled a truck full of chemical fertilizer or garbage on the lawn, something that would be hard to clean up and looked and smelled bad.

I live in the country.  I go for a walk in the fields with my dog.  On my own land I come upon an enormous horse poop.  Later, I see my neighbor and ask if she’s been riding on my land.  I shake my head, no, at her.  She says she’ll clean it up.  I think, well, what if she had left instead a few leaking barrels of hazardous material or poison.  What if she left behind baited leg traps so my dog and pets could be injured.  I’d be much angrier.

If BP were pouring its oil on my roof, or in my yard, or in my street, I’d tell them to cut it out and to clean it up.  I’d probably also get angry at BP.  I would plot ways of having my sweet revenge on them for making a mess of my house, or land, or street.  I’d think about all of the demonstrations, lawsuits, administrative actions, and so on I could instigate against them.  I would look for revenge.  It wouldn’t be enlightened, but that’s what I’d do.

But BP’s not pouring oil directly on me, or my family, or my house, or my land.  No.  They’re spilling it, lots and lots of it in the Gulf of Mexico.  I notice that I’m less angry about this than if they were filling my basement with crude oil.  I notice that nobody’s really picketing BP gas stations or their corporate headquarters.  I notice that people are not screaming at them to cut it out and clean it up.  I notice that people are not asking that BP be nationalized or seized or confiscated.  I notice that their gas stations are still open for business.  Same for their refineries.  I notice that their bank accounts still work, their stock is still traded.  I notice business as usual.  I don’t see them in receivership.  I notice that I can turn away from them and do other things. Like go to work.  And read.  And sleep.

Why is that?  Is it because the Gulf of Mexico isn’t my physical backyard? Or my fields?  Or my street? Is it because it seems further away from me?  Is it because we’re just beginning to see the devastation that this will bring to the Gulf Coast?  Is it because we don’t believe that it is destroying the Gulf and our planet?  Is it because the oil isn’t going directly into my basement and disrupting my life at this second and befouling my every breath and making me sick?  Is it because I cannot smell the stink of it?

I like to think that we humans are stewards for mother earth.  That we take care of her.  It’s like the old song, “The earth is my mother/I must take care of her.”  I like to think that we belong to the earth, that she does not belong to us.  I like to think that our precious, small, blue planet will support and nurture us and give us all we need.  And all she needs in exchange is that we take good care of her.  But I don’t think we’re taking good care of her right now.  I think we’re destroying her.  It’s not just the oil in the Gulf, not by a long shot, but the oil in the Gulf is the latest, most obvious, most egregious example of the failure of our husbandry.

If somebody insulted my mother, or harmed her, I would be outraged.  I would protect her.  I would do whatever was in my power to keep her from harm.  Goodness.  Some people will actually fight if somebody even says something bad about their mother.  Well, this is worse than saying something bad.  This is actually harming, defiling, injuring the planet and the creatures that live on it.  Here we are, our mother is actually being harmed.  And somehow, somehow we sit idly by.

We think about the situation.  While we think, the oil is still flowing.  Out of control.  We hope that some new contraption will stop the leak.  The last one didn’t but maybe this one will.  Or the well that arrives in July.  We hope the damage won’t be too great.  We hope BP will stop the damage, the spill.  We hope the government will get involved.  We sit on our hands.  We stare at the ceiling.  We hope this isn’t the beginning of our planet’s death rattle.

And, of course, we make arguments about policies we will need in the future.  And we talk about how it’s our fault that there is a gigantic oil leak in the sea because we’re addicted to oil.  We blame ourselves in some regard for this rapidly expanding injury to our planet.  But we still stare at the ceiling.  And we hope this isn’t the beginning of our planet’s death rattle.  And that something will save our pearly blue planet from harm.

The truth, I’m afraid, is that we’re in a trance.  We’ve been drugged by darts.  We’re immobilized.  We sit and stare.  We think.  We talk.  We type.   But until the end we won’t do anything to respond to this, to embody our fury, to protect ourselves and our planet and our oceans.  We’ll wait and hope that the damage stops.  And we’ll talk about our planet’s remarkable capacity to stabilize itself and heal itself and repair itself.

I wonder.  Are we trying to kill our planet?  Is this a slow form of attempted planetary suicide?

Why are we letting our mother down like this?  Where is our gratitude for all she does for us?


simulposted at The Dream Antilles and dailyKos


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  1. I must take care of her.

    Thank you for reading.

    • Edger on May 13, 2010 at 01:15

    No really. Don’t laugh. I actually do try to sometimes.

    I think maybe people thinks that it’s too big a problem, too overwhelming, that they are powerless, that there is nothing they can do to stop it, because well, what if I do my little bit and not enough other people do? It gets too hard to think about and there is the never ending hum of life and tv to distract them from the uncomfortable feeling that it’s too big.

    No. Fuck that. The whole planet is my backyard and I’m sick of people pissing all over it and poisoning it.

    There’s too much hallucinating going on. Maybe because not enough people used psychedelics when they were younger, and maybe because not enough people use them now.

    It is said that humanity has evolved one-sidedly, growing in technical power without any comparable growth in moral integrity, or, as some would prefer to say, without comparable progress in education and rational thinking. Yet the problem is more basic. The root of the matter is the way in which we feel and conceive ourselves as human beings, our sensation of being alive, of individual existence and identity. We suffer from a hallucination, from a false and distorted sensation of our own existence as living organisms– Most of us have the sensation that “I myself” is a separate center of feeling and action, living inside and bounded by the physical body–a center which “confronts an “external” world of people and things, making contact through the senses with a universe both alien and strange. Everyday figures of speech reflect this illusion. “I came into this world.” “You must face reality.” “The conquest of nature.”

    This feeling of being lonely and very temporary visitors in the universe is in flat contradiction to everything known about man (and all other living organisms) in the sciences. We do not “come into” this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean “waves,” the universe “peoples.” Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe. This fact is rarely, if ever, experienced by most individuals. Even those who know it to be true in theory do not sense or feel it, but continue to be aware of themselves as isolated “egos” inside bags of skin.

    The first result of this illusion is that our attitude to the world “outside” us is largely hostile. We are forever “conquering” nature, space, mountains, deserts, bacteria, and insects instead of learning to cooperate with them in a harmonious order. In America the great symbols of this conquest are the bulldozer and the rocket–the instrument that batters the hills into flat tracts for little boxes made of ticky-tacky and the great phallic projectile that blasts the sky. (Nonetheless, we have fine architects who know how to fit houses into hills without ruining the landscape, and astronomers who know that the earth is already way out in space, and that our first need for exploring other worlds is sensitive electronic instruments which, like our eyes, will bring the most distant objects into our own brains.)

    The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events–that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies–and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.

    We need, each of us individually, to stop hallucinating before we can deal with reality collectively. Because either way we personally and collectively create the reality we live and die in.


    • Edger on May 13, 2010 at 01:15
  2. destroyed the links to its future. It killed the caretakers of wisdom. It turned its back on different cultures, languages and people. It saw the Colt 45 as justice. It saw the railroads as ladders to progress, as they scarred the lands and molded the Great American Dream, the Dream embodied in the ruthless, but very well dressed, entrepreneur. It saw its government sold.

    It cannot save itself, since it came into being by destroying its links to its future. It killed the caretakers of its land: It privitized her. It sells her and rapes her. The Revolution of 1776 was a revolution of blind, selfish greed that fed on Old World principles of conquest and conflict in the name of their God. Sure, they talked a good game…………………………

    It cannot transform itself. It was born in the blood of injustice and genocide, and destroyed its links to its future. If it is to have any chance, any thread of a chance whatsoever of realizing the principles in its founding Declaration, it must unclog the tar from its arteries and fast.

    Nice essay david—————————

  3. …that I don’t go out there to carry a sign and stand against BP.

    A couple of the best protests I did were solo, because I couldn’t wait to find someone else to go with me.  I stood alone at the “equipment and troop” entrance to Travis Air Force base as convoys were being sent to “I knew not where” during the Reagan years.

    We had seen the large cargo and troop carriers taking off from Travis for 2 days.  We did not know where they were going, but we knew it could not be for any good.

    I made a sign which said:

    Troops.  Don’t die for Reagan’s lie!

    I still feel a little righteous about that.  But I can’t do that any more.  Age, emphysema, COPD…keep me home.

    I would risk death if that might make enough of a statement.  But risking my life to make a statement that is correct only because it is correct without any other effect, doesn’t feel like a sane option right now.

    Thank you, davidseth, for this very appropriate diary and your statements about this.

    Yes, folks:  Although I can no longer go out with a sign to protest, I urge the rest of you to do so.  You’ll be amazed how empowering a solo vigil can be!

  4. until about an hour ago, that james lovelock, author/inventor of the gaia hypothesis had declared the gig up several years ago.

    he does not believe climate crisis can be avoided and that massive human deaths are inevitable.

    i’ve been busy trying to make a difference for 3 decades and for some reason never thought of looking for his newer work.

    the scale of the thing just seemed too big to make predictions until now.


    he also believes in nuclear power.  something else i didn’t know until quite recently as he thinks it would have been the only way to avoid global warming catastrophe.

    while i think his original thesis essentially undeniable, i don’t buy his ideas about nuclear power and/or alternative energy.

    but his analysis that it is already too late feels right and i am about a year and a half behind the critical insight as has been my tendency through much of my life.  

    i see ahead, but not far enough.

    i think we have run out of time.

    humans have always had a suicidal bent wrapped around the most incredible will to survive.

    and we are, at root, in modern society, completely ungrateful and insatiable.

    just watch hgtv a week.  since when were granite counter tops and absolutely necessity for the good life?

    the arrogance of the majority of people shopping for homes on hgtv keeps me glued to the tv.  i simply cannot fathom the things that come out of these people’s mouths.

    considering my 91 year old mother didn’t have electricity, indoor plumbing and an automobile till she was well into adulthood, the idea that we need the luxury these people demand is beyond my comprehension.

    and i really, really like luxury, but i know there are limits of all sorts and priorities, even when we are discussing luxury.  but granite counter tops are just stupid.  they need a lot of maintenance and aren’t nearly as good as alternative.  but they are shiny and humans and raccoons like shiny.  something about pleasure and shiny being associated in the brain, i think.

    the earth is more than our mother.

    she is our reality.

    when we fuck with her, she reacts.  she cannot help but do so.

    lovelock’s new book was released in paperback April 27, 2010.

    just seven days after the oil volcano erupted.

    he does mention somewhere that sustained real volcanoe eruptions could help cool the earth sufficiently.

    as lovelock is a scientist and not a mystic, i would like to talk to him about the prospects for gaia doing just that: erupting a series of volcanoes in a sustained way.

    this would, of course, also cause much human death and drastic temperature shocks downwards.  

    imagine not being able to fly over much of the earth, much of the time and enduring a mini ice age.

    and this is the best we can hope for?

    i am glad i have lived over half my life already.

    • banger on May 13, 2010 at 19:05

    know what this is all about–the junkie mentality. It’s that pure and simple. People I see all around me, good and not so good (with some exceptions) do not want to face the truth or the come-down. The earth will do whatever it does and there’s no way to predict it since the system is so complex. The important part is to know our moral depravity not only as a culture but as individuals. Each of us is responsible, not  because we are doing very little (I know we are all doing something) but because the culture we live in exists in each of us and displays itself in unique ways. The same disease that affects the collective affects each of us collectively.

    We want to get rid of this shit? Well then let’s look at it inside of us. Look at the way we seek escape. Look at the fact we really just want to live our separate little existence rather than join together and create something new and, frankly fun and communitarian. But that means letting go of our little lives and risking everything–every fucking thing we have. We won’t do it, you know we won’t do it, we’re afraid to even talk about it here. This is not because we are “bad” or even weak by comparison to others. It is because we are not strong and we need to find out what, within us, is causing our weakness. It will automatically make us stronger bit by bit. Not by blaming ourselves but by practicing compassion. We are in a really fucked-up situation and the fact we can think freely at a time when mind-control has captured practically the entire population should be cause for some deserved self-respect and show that we are on the right path.

    I think we’ll get there at least some of us–but it’s going to take some intense and perhaps unpleasant Work.

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