Rewiring America Guide to the Inflation Reduction Act opportunities for homeowners and drivers, for businesses and nonprofits. Click here to download the guide. [Buy a new stove, dryer, or refrigerator; check out the electric car deals. How can you weatherize your home and save money?]
Read the progress report from the House of Representatives Climate Crisis Committee. Click here.
Listen to Ezra Klein’s podcast, Volts, interview with Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL)about the accomplishments with the Inflation Reduction Act and other legislation that meets the U.S. Climate Goals. Click here.
“The future is a construct that is shaped in the present, and that is why to be responsible in the present is the only way of taking serious responsibility for the future. What is important is not the fulfillment of all one’s dreams, but the stubborn determination to continue dreaming.”
~ Gioconda Belli, The Country Under My Skin
Nothing can replace the act of seeking knowledge for oneself. I can read about it, have it explained, or live it through another person’s experience, but in each case I see it incompletely, like the blind man holding the elephant’s tail.
For Americans eighteen and older this has never been more relevant.
In 1990 I sought to learn about our nation’s first people by going to them. I left a high profile position at a well known institution, sold or gave away most of my possessions, packed up my pick up, and traveled to a dusty border town trusting my inner compass. There was a Mojave elder and Iroquois teacher who agreed to take me on as an apprentice and student to help me understand American culture and my own life’s course through an examination of my country’s historical relationship with the First Americans and with the land, water, air, and wildlife of the North American continent.
Why did I do that, you may wonder. I had come to the realization that instead of my nation being a beacon of light in the world, it was in fact an empire to many other nations and peoples whose cultural beliefs and lands were at odds with ours. How could there be hunger in a land of plenty? Why were democratic rights applied conditionally to members of our own society and in the world – and why did Americans allow that? How could we destroy the great natural beauty and abundance of our lands even while extolling how much we love it?
It made no sense to me and created a pervading sense of living a lie. I remember the unreality of my life then as I drove to work where architecturally beautiful buildings and the expansive green of a golf course tumbled down to the deep blue of the Pacific ocean. My day was stressful, administering programs at a world renown healthcare facility where patients—banged up in the American market wars and social striving—suffered from heart problems, addiction, or complications from obesity.
One day I sat looking out the picture windows of my corporate office on a singing blue-sky day in southern California. Internally I felt lost and weak. My eyes settled on a book that had lain unread on my shelves for many years: Touch the Earth (T.C. McLuhan.) It is a book of Indigenous values from Native American voices.
At the first reading I experienced a profound sense of sanity return to me. In them I found a direction to pursue the answers to my deepest questions. I became aware of a pulsing hunger at my core for this knowledge, like something precious lost and then vaguely remembered. Could it be that we have within us the knowledge of past human wisdom buried in our brains at birth? Looking back now, I realize that I had no choice but to make the decisions that led me to seek guidance and leave all I had known before – to clear the decks and make way for something new.
The next three years of living in the daily presence of two American Indian educators (one a Mojave elder, college professor, Korean veteran and social worker; the other an Iroquois artist and musician) changed the way I see myself and the world around me. I still believe the experience made me a better person. But the story of how that evolved is a hard one and definitely not what I had expected. The path to self-understanding is a crucible where falseness is burned away and a tender new skin grown. It requires humility, determination, and humor. It is anything but glamorous.
I hope you will return to my blog for journal entries about my experiences. Until then, here are some links to explore:
After reading All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, I understood that he was important not only to literature and my own life of mind, but he is a weaver of time, culture, and interspecies awareness like no other. Today I listened to a long and illustrative interview in which you can learn how this writer travels in time, gathering strands of knowledge, sharing insights through his journey in writing.
In the 1970s Frances Moore Lappe asked, “How much is enough?” Still actively writing, speaking and advocating for food justice, she remains one of my guides to living a sane life in The Land of Plenty for Some.
Other early and ever present guides to my adult life and what would preoccupy my work and art, Thomas Berry, Albert Schweitzer, Rachel Carson and E.F. Schumacher all addressed the same issue from different points of view: living in right relationship with all life and a sustaining Earth ecosystem.
In 2008 I published the first of my writing, Paean to the Earth, which included a little essay titled: Get A Grip Ecology. It included 5 principles by which stable ecosystems operate:
Utilizes a renewable energy source/ Does not overgraze food capacity/ Recycles essential elements/Preserves biodiversity/Moderates population size.
Lappe showed us we strayed from these principles when she demonstrated that there has always been enough food to feed every person in the world a nutritious diet, i.e. food scarcity is a myth. By harnessing the major grain crops for growing beef, pork and chicken, Americans were eating there own seed corn and that of other nations. Lappe first introduced Americans to eating low on the food chain by adopting a mostly plant diet. She systematically demonstrated that hunger exists only from misuse of the world’s resources that could easily feed everyone well.
E.F. Schumacher in his landmark book, Small Is Beautiful, examined the physics and economics of business systems and showed that maximum efficiency and employee satisfaction occurs in companies of 500 employees or less. He first wrote about “technology with a human face”. Today, so many decades down the road of human ingenuity run amuck, industrialized societies are looking around and asking how we recover our humanity while making a living. Again, we must ask ourselves Lappe’s question: “How much is enough?”
Thomas Berry and Albert Schweitzer focused on the spiritual and moral dimensions of how we related to each other and the Earth. Berry took us on a rich journey to learn the traditions of cultures based on eco-principles and proposed that our hope resides in adopting similar values and practices. Schweitzer arrived at an “ethical basis for living” through thought: My will to live exists equally in every living thing and thus the path to a moral life is to live in concert with all other beings whether human or tree or four-legged.
These are the principles of the planet and our greatest thinkers came to them from varying paths but these principles have proven true from all perspectives.
This is just a reminder that the answers to the climate crisis and our social ills are embedded in the very same laws that govern the planet and every living creature on it.
My daughter on a recent hike with me along the Eastern Shore. We are best when we are in nature together. It restores our humanity and our hope.
Open Society published a series of videos about developed countries responsibility to work together with less wealthy, developed countries to mitigate current climate change damage and provide funding and technical assistance to them to increase their resilience.
Yamide Dagnet’s observations are well said and clear.