"U" is for Ugly
by Robert Nanninga
It is said that beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes right to the
efore I get started on the planned topic, I must address
some feedback that I received in response to my article "O is for Over-Population."
David Tepool opinionated on my "Misguided assumptions regarding the
misconception of over-population." What a mouthful. To help set me
straight, Mr. Tepool sent an article, "People aren't the Problem,"
written by Jacqueline P. Kasun, a pro-life economist from the Respect Life
Program. "If all of the people in the world moved to Texas, each person
could be given the space available in the typical American home and all
the rest of the world would be empty." Yee-hah!
I don't know if this is in fact true. I realize that
planet Earth is a pretty big rock, and yes, America's birth rate is dropping.
But unless everyone in the developed world changes their consumptive behavior
immediately, overpopulation will remain a fact because resources are dwindling.
When ecosystems can no longer support the numbers of any given species,
that species is considered over-populated. So until everyone in the developed
world alters their consumptive behaviors - which isn't going to happen anytime
soon - I will continue to advocate population control. We can not wait another
hundred years for nations to bring their populations to a sustainable level.
The crisis is happening now.
In regards to my figurative slap at the Pope: chill
out Dave. John Paul is a big boy and I'm sure he can handle a little criticism.
And as for attacking "Jesus Christ himself," I never mentioned
Jesus, whose teachings I respect. Nor would I defame a man rumored to have
chased the money changers from the temple. And yes, I do understand the
doctrines - I just interpret them differently. Thank you, David, for participating
in the conversation. I look forward to hearing from you in the future. Now
to the Business at hand.
Two weeks ago, my partner and I were having lunch at
the Marie Callendars in Horton Plaza. Looking out the hermetically sealed
windows, I noticed a woman with truly bizarre hair. While pointing her out,
we witnessed the grossest display of littering I had ever seen. One could
only assume the orange soda she had purchased from McDonalds did not meet
with her approval, because she flung it to the ground as if it were a snake
that had just bitten her. We knew it was orange soda because it glowed like
a beacon. The outrage is that the woman was twenty feet from a trash can
when she had tired of her neon beverage.
So there we sat, four stories up, watching people walk
around this discarded cup of orange sugar water. Most people chose to ignore
it while it sat in the middle of the sidewalk. (I would recommend ignoring
it at the point of purchase - much more cost effective.) After a while,
a small child kicked it out of his way and sent it sailing into the bushes.
Out of sight, out of mind. The moral of the story is best told in the idiom
of Forrest Gump: ugly is as ugly does.
Now, could someone please explain to me why smokers
don't consider discarded cigarette butts as litter? At this years EarthFair,
the number one complaint of volunteers was having to clean up all the cigarette
butts people threw to the ground. Obviously, smokers have come to terms
with their own ugliness. My question is, when will they learn that the rest
of us don't want to clean up after them? Ugly is as ugly does.
While I am on the subject of the recent EarthFair and
ugliness, let me tell you about a run in I had with two of the ugliest women
I have ever seen, and believe me this has nothing to do with aesthetics.
Picture if you will: a park and 70,000 people enjoying a beautiful, peaceful
Sunday afternoon celebrating Earth Day. All of a sudden you are accosted
by two screaming women holding up large pictures of an aborted fetus. The
women were there protesting the efforts of Planned Parenthood, The Women's
Health Center, and an organization called Pro-Choice, all of whom are trying
to prevent the birth of unwanted children through education - truly a noble
These women were hard-core hate mongers. Not only did
they misrepresent themselves to the EarthFair organizers by claiming to
be The Endangered Species League, they resorted to name calling when asked
to move on. Screaming that over-population was a lie and that abortion was
the American holocaust, a woman wearing an American flag t-shirt called
me a queer and pervert when I told them that their behavior was not in keeping
with agreements they had made with San Diego Earth Day. I will concede that
the pictures of abortions are ugly, but then so were the women who brandished
them and the words they used to defend their actions. I don't know how this
gets translated into me being a pervert. Ugly is as ugly does.
Lest you think I am anti-child, I would like to announce
the birth of my namesake, Andrew Robert Nanninga, who was born on Earth
Day, April 22nd 1996. Knowing that his birth was imminent, I brought a tree
to the birthing room so that Earth Spirit would be present when he entered
the world. As his uncle, I am proud to say he is a happy and healthy baby
that was welcomed by two loving parents and an extended family committed
to his well-being. Even a non-breeder such as myself can be moved by the
sight of a newborn in the arms of his mother. The reason I write this column
is so that Andrew will be able to experience a world with blue skies, clean
oceans and abundant biodiversity, not a world of mass starvation, disease
Yesterday, a friend of mine showed me the book Judaism
and Vegetarianism by Richard Schwartz. In the chapter "Judaism and
Ecology," the author mentions a Midrash (a story that teaches a Torah
lesson based on biblical events and values). I quote: "In the hour
when the Holy one, Blessed be He, created the first man, He took him and
let him pass before all the trees of the Garden of Eden and said to him:
'See my works, how fine and excellent they are! Now all that I have created,
for you have I created. Think upon this and do not corrupt and desolate
My World, for if you corrupt it, there is no one to set it right after you.'"
I was impressed. It just goes to show that the wisdom
is there. Why as a nation have we forgotten these ancient lessons? Could
it be they no longer suit our purpose because desolation and corruption
have proved to be so profitable? So, ladies and gentlemen, it is time we
stopped littering and began cleaning up after ourselves and our consumptive
impulses. If not for your sake, then for the sake of your children and your
children's children. We are the only hope they have. Beauty is as beauty
does. So here's to Andrew and a beautiful future.
Robert Nanninga is an independent video producer, actor, vegan, San
Diego Earth Day board member and active member of the Green and environmental