[Edited version: Peace and Environment News (PEN), vol.21, no.6, July-August 2006, Insider, p.2.]
I recently saw Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. It was exactly what I expected, in every detail, like getting the Big Mac you expect when you go to Mac Donald’s. What I did not expect, however, is how the theatre filled and how everyone in the theatre seemed to swallow it down. That’s why I am writing this critique of what is an American mainstream film that serves the same political purpose as any Hollywood blockbuster – to neutralize political awareness and response.
Yes, the atmospheric trace gas CO2 has the highest concentration it has had in the last million years. Yes, this is due to fossil fuel burning. Yes, CO2 is a greenhouse gas. Yes, there have been intense weather events in recent years and yes glaciers are melting.
Therefore, let us abstract away the greatest assault on the planet and its people in the history of humanity, namely finance-driven corporate devastation and exploitation backed by military might, and change our light bulbs to the energy saving kind!
Make no mistake. No change in superficial personal lifestyle choices or even voting Democrat instead of Republican or even sending post cards to your representative is going to noticeably slow down the beast. Do these things because they make you feel good but don’t be fooled that you are making a significant difference or even that you are acting morally.
It’s important to feel good by securing the necessities and by integrating a nurturing community (even a media-based one) but if you want to be worried about global problems start with global-scale exploitation of the third world and the crimes against humanity that our governments participates in, both at home and abroad. Start by looking beyond the agenda rags we call newspapers, Hollywood productions, and the planet as a religion.
Our moral responsibility extends far beyond checking out Al Gore’s web site, and has relatively little to do with lifestyle choices; including vegetarianism, fair trade purchases, renewable consumer choices, not owning a car, etc. Our responsibilities instead include getting informed (not only on the web but on the streets also), and demanding moral accountability of all those who should serve people (including the corporations and private banks).
To demand is to put yourself out there. To demand is to show what you stand for. To demand is to risk. We must risk as much as will make us as effective as possible in producing justice.
Economic, human, and animal justice brings economic sustainability which in turn is always based on renewable practices. Recognizing the basic rights of native people automatically moderates resource extraction and preserves natural habitats. Not permitting imperialist wars and interventions automatically quenches nation-scale exploitation. True democratic control over monetary policy goes a long way in removing debt-based extortion. Etc.
Concentrated power and capital are not about to give up their practices or their imperative for profit. Resistance to the insane return-on-investments hydra that inhabits our planet is our main responsibility if we are concerned about future generations. It’s time to declare bankruptcy and start again, in collaboration, without debt or interest.
One cannot control a monster by asking it not to shit as much. The monster is the problem, not the fact that it shits, no matter what colour the shit is.
In Al Gore’s masterpiece there is not a single questioning at the root. A sanitized problem of atmospheric chemistry is used to funnel attention into lifestyle choices or filling out feedback forms for the monster’s suggestion box.
The way to help people is to help people. And the first way to do that is to stop f&%king them over.
My burger made me sick.