Friday, October 22, 2010

On Stewardship

I don't know how I'm going to get through 12-16 units of school if I keep blogging when I ought to be studying.

But this is school related, sooo...

We've watched "The 11th Hour" over the last two class days, a movie about the health of our planet and how we're severely fucking it up. The first hour pissed me off, it was nothing but a scare-fest. "We're all gonna die! Turn into Venus! Ahhhhh!!" I realize it was a matter of convincing otherwise skeptical viewers that we really are headed up shit creek without a paddle fast, but still.

The second hour, of which we watched today, was more about what we can do.

People, the more I learn the more helpless I feel. Ever heard of liberal guilt? I hadn't until just a few weeks ago. Y'all, I got it. Bad.

Urban Koda talked a little about this the other day, how he wants to do what is best for our world and the animals and the people in it but just can't fucking afford it. You want to spend the extra cash on sustainable, grass fed beef. You want to buy the free range eggs (even though it's not necessarily better because it's not necessarily "free range"), you want to buy organic. You want to buy recycled. But in the end, you just can't afford it. Food is not all we need. We have kids, we have houses that need to be fixed up. We have places to go. So what do we do? Head over to Walmart, that's right. Cheap cheap cheap.

We do what little we can. I use cotton bags now. I buy products with the least amount of packaging, the most recyclable packaging. We've replaced all of our lightbulbs. We have the most energy-efficient windows on the market. When we can, I buy organic/natural. We've cut down on the number of times we eat out. If we had a decent farmer's market (we don't) that lasted longer than 6 weeks (we don't), I'd be there in a hot second.

But like I said, we don't.

I'd like to buy fruits and veggies in season, but I don't know what they are, what to do with them, and--worst of all--I just don't have the palate for many fruits and veggies. I'm a 12 year old. When summer hits, fruits and veggies are one of the few things I'm happy about: Strawberries, pineapple, peaches/nectarines, decent tomatoes (I swear to god I'm growing my own goddamn tomatoes next summer, whether or not our backyard is done), grapes, zuchinni and squash, peppers, melon, etc. When winter hits, I'm all about the oranges--but not much else. Even then, supermarket produce kind of bites. Also, Eric is allergic to many fresh fruits and vegetables. Canned it is for him. Or cooked. I do like sweet potatoes. As long as they're sweet.


We're also incorporating more and more whole grains into our diet. But again, I cannot stand oatmeal. God help me, I've tried. Rolled and steel cut, spiced and with fruit, doesn't matter. I hate the texture. Unless it's in a cookie. I sense a common thread here...

Trying to vote with the dollar isn't always easy. I live in an agricultural area and yet there are no small farms around here--wait, scratch that. Next summer I swear I'm going to take advantage of the little fruit stands. They're everywhere.

Alas, I've yet to watch Food Inc., mostly because I know it'll scare me and convince me even further that the food I eat is terrible and ruining everything--but what can I do? Not a hell of a lot.

At least I'm pretty sure I want chickens. Which is funny, because that was one of my mom's ideas about me going Mormon. I'd move to Utah, be one of many wives, and we'd have chickens.

Then, then there's Gasland, an indie documentary about the crisis of natural gas and how the big companies are royally fucking up our soil and our water--not so much my soil and water, but those of certain locales. It's so bad in some areas, where wells are drilled mere meters away from a house, that they can literally light their kitchen sink water aflame.

I decided after seeing that documentary that I don't really need my gas stove. That said, I realize electricity is derived from fossil fuels, so you're damned if you do, damned if you don't. But I don't need my gas stove. And, once we can afford it (which shouldn't be too much longer), we are so getting solar panels installed.

So, I mean, there's not a hell of a lot I can do. I'm feeling guilty enough about having to drive 50 miles three times a week for school--it's not like I can take a bus or ride a bike or walk. Carpool, maybe, but there are trust issues involved. And timing as well. It is a very green school, though. Green town. So, so, so many bikes.

Anyway. Here's the crux of the issue today, all of this aside:

My professor asked a very unresponsive and seemingly disinterested room why nobody in a position of power is listening to all of the evidence regarding climate change and sustainability and what we can do to be more eco-friendly. I wanted to raise my hand because I had an answer, but it would likely piss people off. He went on to say it had a lot to do with money. Corporations are now legally considered individual entities, with the rights and powers of a single voter. They give millions to politicians, propositions, etc. for their own financial gain and the politicians accept it because they want to win. Money money money. Capitalism at it's fucking finest.

My answer, however, was that the majority of these politicians who take this money are not only seeking out their own gain so they can do what they feel will better the economy--which is important--but because their constituents, if not the politicians themselves, are Christian.

Now, hold on. This is not a dog on Christianity. Entirely. But conservative Christians, at least the ones I've ran into and know, feel climate change and eco-responsibility are myths. God gave us this world and whatever is in it is to be used for our good. Why would god allow our land to reject us? Then you have assholes like Limbaugh saying shit like the oil spill is no biggie because oil is natural and water is natural. Never mind the scope of the problem. Or that they feel marijuana may be "natural" but that doesn't mean "good." You know?

Nobody remembers the bit in the Bible about our being stewards of the Earth. Everyone thinks and has thought for years that our resources are unlimited, that God would never ever let us ruin the land we live on. That god, therefore, gives more a shit about our bottom line than the fact that your tap water is flammable. Undrinkable. Can't even take a shower in it. That things like this seep into the soil, make its way into your food when the cattle eat off it. They don't see the balance because as many of them see it, we are the ultimate. Nothing can happen to us. We are eternal.

There's a balance between our economy and our home. I'm not vilifying the economy entirely, just that whole "love of money" thing. I mean, look. My family needs more money if we're going to consume better. Which is wrong, but it's reality.

So maybe I'm just looking for it, but I'm angry at religion today, at least mainstream Christianity--and yes, you could include Mormonism in there too. They speak about taking care of the earth with their lips but that's about it, and then only when it looks good. Otherwise, it's elitist to be concerned. It's faithless to be concerned. It's "stupid" even to do what you can. Eric got so much shit for using a push mower. People don't get it. They don't want to listen. They think all of this is a hoax, indoctrination, godless. It's beyond me.

We're such an incredibly smart (forgive me) species. We've taken ourselves to the moon, put satellites in space, created microchips so small I don't understand how one can see it--we have the ability to change our technology with regard to energy and yet we don't because we need the money. We need the job. We pander. We are willfully ignorant. We don't care.

And we don't know what to do. I don't know what to do. I'd love to change the world, but I feel paralyzed and helpless. Tired. Pulled in fifty different directions--where do I start and when do I stop?

I think we need to start with a younger generation. My sister is getting the clue despite her upbringing. They're the ones willing to listen. They're the ones with the energy. They're the ones not caught up in a life that took them for a ride. But we can do it too, little by little. Still, spreading this information is rough stuff. You mention one thing like climate change and half the room tells you to fuck off, god is at the helm. Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow Christ will come and the Earth will be renewed to its paradisaical glory.

We're still waiting.


  1. This is an excellent post and the topic is close to my heart. I agree with everything you said. Around here (Utah) "global warming" is generally scoffed at, evolution is considered a secret Satanic plot to destroy religion, Obama is the anti-Christ and Sarah Palin is considered an intelligent woman. The prevailing attitude toward the Earth and its precious resources is one of arrogance and entitlement.

    The small things we do to be good stewards do matter. I say -- Keep doing the best you can and don't beat yourself up about things you can't change. No need to burden yourself with perfection. You can only do what you can. The fact that you and so many others care gives me a lot of hope.

  2. Okay, a few thoughts.

    First of all, I tend to be the most "granola" person in my friends' lives, so I get you on these questions. But I'm also a very practical person. I don't use CFLs, for example, because I think it's far more likely that I'll drop one and poison my family with mercury than save a bunch of money or the planet. I'm very into food issues, but I also understand limited budgets and the fact that most store-bought animal products are totally bogus in their attempts to sooth consumer conscience. (You're right: "free-range" means next to nothing.)

    So basically, I'm obsessed with being "green" but also completely cynical. Some of this is because I got my hands on Derrick Jensen's books (girl, if documentaries bum you out STEER CLEAR of this guy; you'll cry for weeks). I've come to realize that all of our good-little-liberal activities, like using cloth napkins and drying on the line, amounts to less than nothing because even the sum total of our every good action pales against the crimes of INDUSTRY. And we cannot impact industry. Of course, corporations want us to believe that "voting with our dollars" can exert real change, but it's bullshit. Look at the many thousands of businesses that are "going green," "carbon-neutral," "waste-free," printing with "soy ink," recycling, donating 1% of their profits to some fancy foundation, and things are worse than ever. We're being blindsided. We're being brainwashed while industry continues on its merry way.

    So now I'm all about reducing. Not recycling (most of that stuff ends up in landfills in China anyway) or reusing, but reducing not only what I buy, what I use, or where I go, but my overall dependence on industry in general, "green" or not.

    This is by far the least satisfying and patriotic way to go about lessening our impact on the planet. But I also believe it's most effective. To be honest, I start grinding my teeth when people talk about organics and cloth diapers and stainless steel water bottles. I do those things; I think they're important steps. But will they save the planet? As long as we're practicing globalized American-style capitalism as we currently are, FUCK. NO.

    Probably my comment just makes things even more complicated, but I've been studying this shit for years and years and just feeling more defeated all the time. I might feel better if I adopted the "vote with your dollars" rhetoric, but I refuse to be brainwashed like that. I'll do my good-little-liberal stuff because it makes my life better, kinder, healthier, and it sends a message about treading a little lighter, which is important. But I don't try to fool myself that it's making a difference for anyone except me.