We of My Generation – those of us who grew up in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s – remember the days of political activism as an incredibly powerful and shape-shifting time. We were emerging from a bland, dark, contrived era of one-dimensional post-war materialism … where, your hair was big, your smile was small, and your status was hooked onto the size of “fins” on your Oldsmobile. Stuff like that.
The emerging culture that was heralded by the “Beat Generation” of the 50’s and 60’s, bled into the “hippie culture” of the 60’s to 70’s. We were ripe with the energy of human potential that demanded changes of consciousness, and fed the need in all of us to seek “connection” to the larger and lighter forces of the Universe. Love, peace, creativity, inspiration were the maxims of the day – an ideal that hinted at the universal fellowship of man.
Of course this movement erupted and expanded and eventually lost it’s central vitality and innocence in it’s marriage to the mainstream. In turn, the mainstream was simultaneously been irrevocably changed by this same expanding consciousness in all its dimensions: music and entertainment, drugs and altered-state experiences, spirituality and consciousness, as well as lifestyle – cultural and social models and constructs. One of the dimensions that also became back-burnered over time was the environmental movement, spear-headed back then by organization who were somewhat radical in their ways like Greenpeace.
The Environment – as a subject of interest, is something that has arrived at a point where it can no longer be ignored. The changes to the planet that are happening at this time are huge, in their scope, in their potential to affect life on this planet. I remember traveling to Australia in the late 90’s – my first visit to the southern hemisphere – and feeling the raw, grating rays of the sun on my skin, rays that were shining through a literal hole in the atmosphere’s ozone layer. I could no longer hide from the fact that our planet had been seriously wounded; the burning sun was a reality on my reddened skin.
Now I notice things like this, things we perhaps get used to and “accept” – but things which are really unacceptable to the biology of our souls as humans, unacceptable to the ‘biology’ of accountability, unacceptable to the fragile voice of the planet itself – a voice that perhaps some of us have heard in those sacred moments of silence and awe in the amazing arena of Nature Herself. I notice that the “feel” of the sun is different now, even here in Vancouver – the northern hemisphere. The sun is “hotter” now, it has an ‘edge’ to it that it never had in my childhood.
And there’s big, big things happening, far greater than my little skin-felt sensibilities can comprehend. A vast island (islandS – actually) of floating plastic garbage in the centers of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. A vast cloud of brown smog that covers huge parts of Asia, now on a permanent basis. The carbon level in our atmosphere higher than it’s been for 15 million years. The polar ice caps melting, ice that has remained in place since time immemorial – now gone. Coastal communities threatened by water rising. Outrageous climate changes, flooding, droughts, wild-fires. And on and on.
If we as human beings think we can ignore this, turn a blind eye, pretend it’s not happening and not going to have huge effect – not only in the numerically-declining ‘days left’ of our lives – but in the lives of our children and generations still to come … we are simply “ignorant” – to put it mildly. Stupidity and self-deception would perhaps be a more accurate description.
This is our mess. We made it. It’s not a thing of blaming “them” – another country, another culture, another neighbor who throws their cigarette butts on your lawn. But, the good thing is we, the people, also have the potential and the ability to initiate, support and activate … change on a global level.
This is one of the beauties of the internet and connective technology. Besides wasting our time with gossip and crazy pet tricks, we can dialogue about things that count; we can dialogue about holding industry and elected officials accountable to creating a sustainable planet, one that we can be proud to be citizens of. And one that we can contribute to inhabit and enjoy the inherent beauties and gifts thereof.