Personal change vs. political change

Obviously, by creating categories such as “economy” and “ecology” we have tricked ourselves into thinking that the world can actually be contained in such quaint boxes, but the enduring lesson of environmental history is that it cannot be.
~”The Lost Wolves of Japan,” Brett L. Walker

Ran across an article written about a year ago from Orion magazine. It’s a good article, so read it. I’m not going to sum it up for you.

I do agree with the author. To an extent. I still believe in personal change. If we can’t count on anyone else, we can count on ourselves.

I think he forgot that a lot of our water consumption and waste can be lowered by simple living. Cotton, used in our clothing, consumes massive amounts of water. If people started opting out of consumerism and bought less clothing, there would be less demand for cotton and less water used. Granted, this is an oversimplification, and dependent on the government deciding not to subsidize cotton growers for the drop in demand.

A significant reduction across the board would, other than panic more people than this supposed “great recession,” would dramatically alter the way industry operates. Government would probably attempt to prop it up for a while, but eventually the change would come.

And placing the blame of environmental degradation squarely on the shoulders of industry lets people get away with the “It’s not my fault/responsibility/problem” excuse. We are all responsible, via our actions and inactions. We can’t shove all the blame for habitat loss onto our personal shoulders, but we do have to take up our share of the burden.

And just who is going to take up Mr. Jensen’s challenge? Apparently not Mr. Jensen. Nor I, said the Fox. Not while I have debts to pay and politics is not my forte (hey, at least I admit it). And how? That was a great call-to-arms, but where to direct all this passion? There are vague references to activists from different time periods, but no mention of how or what they did. No real concrete ideas as to how to go about this rebellion aside from the pretty-easy-to-mention-but-questionable-in-efficacity “…voting, not voting, running for office, pamphleting, boycotting, organizing, lobbying, protesting…” That sounds about as effective as dumpster diving to me.

As we all well know, it’s easy to say that someone should do something about it. It’s less easy to say what should be done and how to go about it. Actually doing it is even less so.

Do I have anything to add that would help a would-be activist? Not really, other than to offer up a suggestion…read “Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries” by Naomi Wolf. That’s a place to start, anyway, and it’s more than Mr. Jensen offered.

In the meantime, I’ll keep trying to change the world slowly. One person at a time. One less purchase at a time. One more mile ridden by bike instead of driven by car. One less bit of energy spent. One less cotton plant grown. One less acre given up to sprawling development because I refuse to use more space than necessary. It may not be much, but it’s something, which is better than nothing at all.

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One Response to “Personal change vs. political change”

  1. I was into the article until he broke Godwin’s rule. Also, he’s pretty bad about fear-mongering himself.

    Honestly, I think we should spend energy looking for manufacturing processes that allow things to not have to be produced in bulk while still maintaining efficiency. Moving away from large industrial settings and back to the small shop paradigm will help this. Unfortunately, this is something best undertaken by those with money.

    Also, somewhat on topic, http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/05/mowing-with-goats.html

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