Friday, May 21, 2010

It's Just Not Right!!

Anyone who knows me even a little bit, knows that I am no great Phileos Animalis. In our family, I am the one immovable barrier to my children’s desperate pleas for a domestic canine experience (thank God that Christa is allergic to cats, so we at least don’t have to have that battle). The only compromise I was willing to make was to let them get turtles, who sleep a good 6 months of the year in someone else’s garage. Talk about low maintenance! The only pet I had as a child was the adorable little kitten we got as kids one Christmas and creatively named… Christmas, and who just disappeared one day even before it stopped being a cute little kitten. Then there was the tank of amazing tropical fish my parents were “fish-sitting,” while the real owners were traveling for a few months. Every last fish was dead within the first few weeks. The small white budgerigar I was given when I was 18, whom I named Coca (yes, after that stuff!), survived my care, against all odds, for about three years, but not the care of his “bird sitters,” when I was away in Europe for a year.

The only pets I’ve had since then were the ones we had in PNG. Our dog, Hadley, who died an agonizing death after eating pesticides while we were away in Germany for a couple of months, and our ants, cockroaches and mice, who survived despite our decisive efforts to exterminate them. In fact, the real reason I don’t mind staying in Germany, is because there are no cockroaches here. A couple of days ago, my neighbor friend Louisa invited me in to see her three new kittens. The whole time I was petting them and saying how cute they were, I was thinking, “What kind of crazy people have a house full of cats?” And every morning when another neighbor’s cat wants to be let in for breakfast between 5 and 7 am, yowling like a squeaky violin, I am sure that if I still had a bb-gun from my wild and crazy teen years, I would have long put an end to its miserable little existence (I’m obviously also not a morning person).

So I feel almost hypocritical when I start to listen to my own heart’s response to the oil gushing out into the Gulf of Mexico, and I find there much more compassion and heartbreak than I would have expected. In fact, I started sobbing convulsively on my way to Ikea the other day, as I imagined the violence being inflicted upon this living, pulsating and diverse ecosystem, and wrote this poem when I got back home. Every new article about the failed attempts to cap the leak, every aerial video of the sprawling black pest, and every picture of the birds and sea life who are suffocating and smothered in the fuming, sludgy crude, wrenches from my heart new waves of horror and sorrow, of feeling angry and helpless and… responsible. It’s just not right! It’s just not right!

In stretches such as I’ve had the last few weeks, when melancholy has settled in like a long bout of bad weather, this tragedy seems to have given me that last right hook emotionally and landed me on the mat for the final count of ten. The actual physical crises of the unrelenting oil still intruding into the aqua blue Gulf is daunting enough, but the network of corporate and political corruption, the world wide scale of unsustainable consumption, and my own addictive behavior, which keeps the whole system well lubricated and in ceaseless operation, appear to me to be an unstoppable herd of buffalo stampeding us all off a cliff. Will it ever change? Will I ever change? How do you stop a stampeding herd of anything?

Any ideas?


Jan Fischer said...

first of all it's my responsibility as a buyer and consumer to overthink my ways of buying and consuming.
second it's about highest time that governments put the most powerful organizations of the world, which are multinational companies, banks and brokers on chains, regulate and tax them heavely.
Thirdly we need a revolution of mind and heart and turn away from the god of money to the living god, stop regarding nature as sth we should exploit and oppress but see it as our bases of live that we have to maintain and care for and take serious steps in helping poor to stop their suffering.
the longer we wait the closer we get to the day we will have the bear the full consequences of our behaviour and will be judged.

Anonymous said...

Interesting article, and an interesting comment. However multinational companies aren't really in control. They appear to be, but actually they respond very rapidly to changes in consumer behaviour. The actions of multinationals are their responsibility, and the responsibility of the consumers. Consumers support the undesirable behaviour of large companies by paying them to so what they do.

Large companies have a vested interest in creating a false feeling of need in the public, so that they will continue to pay for things they don't really need. When we allow ourselves to go-with-the-flow, and don't question all the manipulation of achieved by advertising, then we have a lot to answer for.


are interesting links on the topic.

David Baines

Lee Fischer said...

Hi David! thanks for stopping by and for the links!

Yes, I've seen the story of stuff... great video!!! In fact, this reminds me that I want to show it at one of our Brunch and Mores. I personally find myself pretty trapped in this cycle... I maybe need to go to Consumerist Anonymous. Ikea and Apple have me full in their grip!

Have you read One-Dimensional Man, by Herbert Marcuse?

"Why is Marcuse so upset about prosperity? Following in the foot steps of Marx, Marcuse is not simply worried about economic exploitation. His basic concern is liberation--a liberation he sees receeding ever further into the distance as modern industrial society (both capitalist and communist) buys off almost all potential opponents through increased abundance. He views modern society as a treadmill where workers are kept enslaved to their jobs by the desire to purchase newer and ever more products produced by their labor. Rather than seeking for liberation, workers willingly put up with the indignities of working for their capitalist (and socialist) masters in hopes of greater material, as oppossed to spritual abundance."

hope you stop by again, lee