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July 13, 2006

I came upon this article today. We have three choices: destroy ourselves in the next 100 years through warfare; destroy ourselves in the next 100 years through environmental catastrophe; or, by some miracle, avoid disaster by radically and aggressively addressing the habits that are leading to warfare and environmental catastrophe. The article's author asserts that "There will be sacrifices to deal with global warming, and we will need to change some habits of long-standing."

I'm sick of hearing, "Things must change." Yeah. Duh. How about something a bit more concrete? And don't go pointing me to the "50 Things You Can Do to Save the Planet" article or the 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth. Nothing against either resource, but I doubt that's going to be enough. Recycling soda cans is a drop in the bucket, an important drop but a drop nonetheless, and doesn't do anything to address the over-consumption that is the more fundamental problem.

If we are guilty of over-consumption, the logical thing to do is to consume less. But what does Consume Less look like? Does it mean eating less? Buying fewer groceries? Buying in bulk? Driving less? Foregoing the seasonal wardrobe update? Passing over that new video game? Going to bed when the sun goes down so you don't use electric lights? Where are the parts of our lifestyle that over-consume resources? Because I'm willing to bet that there are big black holes of resource consumption that we are entirely unaware of.

And I'm pretty sure that we can't wait for "the next administration - of either party - (to) shift from apocalypse to reality ... to turn back the environmental tide and save the 21st century for our grandchildren." Change happens out here, among individuals, in small groups. Change is an idea that starts locally, among neighbors, and catches on and spreads until it's just the Way Things Are. But nothing will change enough to save us until we individuals know what our patterns of consumption are really costing us all.

July 05, 2006

With the possible exception of the grass in the central park, I think we have all survived the Fourth.

I have a complicated relationship with the holiday, even if we ignore the current discomforting foreign policy. Mostly, it's about the fireworks. I enjoy the sparkles and the lights, but I'm finding that the older I get the more uncomfortable I am with the sounds and the smoke they cause. The big fireworks for large displays (the kind over the beach in Santa Barbara, or over any of the Seattle-area bodies of water) are fine, somehow. It's the smaller explosives, the firecrackers you can find in the supermarket in late June and the fireworks brought back from the surrounding reservations, that bother me.

Our neighborhood has been popping and booming for the last five days. As a parent, there's a kind of general discomfort with all the kids running around with matches and explosives. "Don't play with that - someone could get hurt!" This wasn't made any better when I realized that some of the fireworks were being launched sideways. But it's the sounds these things make that make me really edgy. One last night had a kind of sustained scream that turned all my vertebrae on end. The rest sound like a cacophony of gunfire.

I should appreciate the innocence that allows the neighborhood kids to shriek with delight at things that sound like weapons. But I found myself instead, tense and on edge in my kitchen, thinking of the women in Gaza and Baghdad, places where those sounds are not primarily sounds of celebration. There is a sense of personal gratitude that I am not there, but there is also a prayer for strength and peace for these women. May you survive with your hearts and spirits intact; may you raise the next generation to find the road to peace; may the explosions you hear soon be as innocuous as fireworks launched sideways.