'A' is for Action
"A seed hidden in the heart of an apple
is an orchard invisible."
by Robert Nanninga
- Welsh proverb
here is a battle out there folks, a war of ideology
being waged on every front. Last week, Canada reinstated the slaughter of
seals. The restrictions this time are that the clubbing of defenseless marine
mammals is not allowed; hunters must be content with just shooting them.
Japan is preparing to resume whaling, and the Contract for America, marshaled
by Newt ("We don't need no stinking wetlands") Gingrich, is declaring
open season on the environment. War is hell.
Politicians constantly promise to cut taxes, knowing
full well that sooner or later someone is going to have to pay the piper.
The new twist is to abolish environmental regulations. It works like this:
in the past we decided that it was smart to protect endangered species,
so the government says habitat must be preserved. Now developers and their
puppet politicians agree this is not cost-effective and cry economic hardship.
They claim that undeveloped land cuts into their profit margin. Local governments
cry foul when asked to enforce such laws, due to budget constraints, and
refuse to support these "unfunded mandates."
No one wants to pay for the effects of uncontrolled
growth, but they are more than willing to profit from it. This shouldn't
be news to the people in Congress, but, if you don't pay the maid, she won't
clean house. Newt and his rampaging Republicans have the foolish notion
that as soon as the house gets too messy to deal with they can just pack
up and move. Sorry guys, but that only works for so long.
Now I'm sure everybody reading this article (and yes,
that is an obvious distinction) believes they are doing their part to protect
the environment. I question if that is enough. To continue the war analogy,
in World War II ("the last good war), there was what was referred to
as the "homefront effort." This is where gasoline, sugar, coffee,
tires and leather shoes were rationed. All types of metal were salvaged
and recycled for the war effort, and even nylon stockings did their part
to keep the world free. Helpful? Yes. But if memory serves me right, it
took a lot of human suffering before the aggressors threw in the towel.
These days, people are recycling, carpooling, switching
to vegetarian diets and planting trees in their backyards. Those who can
afford it donate to the environmental charity that touches them the most.
Others pick up trash along the nearest beach once a year. All in the name
of a healthy planet. I'm sorry, but this seems like we are trying to bail
out the Titanic with a champagne glass. The aggressors this time are multinational
corporations who have decided that they do indeed own the whole damn world.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Earth Day. April
22nd is the day when people around the world congratulate themselves for
still being here. However, as a concerned populace we need to do more than
throw a successful party once a year. Llama rides and drumming circles are
nice, but they are not enough to ensure clean water. The phrase "Earth
Day every day" must move beyond a feel-good slogan and become a way
Instead of recycling, how about making a commitment
to the environment by not buying things that need to be recycled in the
first place. Take glass bottles, for example. Do you really need to be a
part of the Pepsi Generation? If you actually require carbonated sugar water
for your survival, I'm sure you can find a way to make it at home that doesn't
require aluminum for packaging, fossil fuels for transport and an entire
forest for marketing and advertising. With this kind of thinking you will
begin to see bottled spaghetti sauce as an assault on the environment. Growing
your own tomatoes is easy, and healthier than whatever they put in "Old
World Style Ragu." I'm sure Mama Leone fed her family without the benefit
of calcium chloride.
Small choices such as these are a step in the right
direction. Environment action takes many forms. When you decide to boycott
a product because of excessive packaging, you need to write the company
who produces it and let them know what you are doing and why. I know you
can't grow your own wheat, but you can buy organically grown flour, in bulk,
from your local health food market. Most grain products are available without
packaging, including pasta and rice.
Other action that will make a big difference is becoming
involved in municipal government. I recently went through the committee
appointment process for the City of Encinitas. I was the lone voice in a
wilderness of development interests. Architects, engineers, planners and
realtors all wanting to help shape future growth. One person with an opposing
view point is easy to dismiss; 40 or 400 are not.
Voting is also important. If you have yet to find out
about the Green Party, now is the time. Has anybody noticed that Republicans
and Democrats have been in power so long that America has become a one-party
system? It's like choosing between Coke or Pepsi. The Green Party offers
an alternative to the tax-and-spend mentality of an industrialized establishment
that sees trees only in terms of board feet.
Volunteering is yet another way of acting on behalf
of the environment. San Diego Earth Day is always in need of people and
their special talents. I'm sure I Love a Clean San Diego would love to have
enough volunteers to clean San Diego beaches on a weekly basis. People with
green thumbs would be appreciated at local schools, and I know the students
would benefit from lessons on organic gardening.
April 22nd should always be a day set aside for us to
express and celebrate our commitment to the Planet that supports our very
existence. But we must transform this day of well-meaning to a lifetime
of responsibility and action. In the words of deep ecologist Lone Wolf Circles:
"Let those who dare be the seeds! Seeds of consciousness,
of love, of change. A time to come together and line their nests with the
physical and spiritual aids to survival. Time to ignore no lessons, ignore
no enemy, ignore no ally. Let those who dare be the seeds!"
Robert Nanninga is an independent video producer, actor, vegan and
active member of the Green and environmental community.