Wednesday, July 29, 2015

I Think Not

by Daddy X

According to the “Internets,” 'angst' rears its ugly head when one feels apprehensive for the world and its future. Sorta like a more encompassing ‘anxiety’—pushed to the nth power to include fear for all life forms—combined with the all-consuming lure of a far-fetched vision of a smidgen of hope.

Angst hasn’t been much of a problem for me of late. During a year of debilitating Interferon/Ribavirin treatment back in 2005/06, I did listen to a lot of leftist talk radio, which turned me into a different person. Not only was I laid low by physical anguish, but I also became upset with every perceived wrong I observed around me. I had become a drag. The fix was to not listen to a particular station.

It wasn’t a matter of suddenly being made aware of what was out of kilter with society. I had always harbored leftist thought. And, to the extent I could, tried to live my life accordingly. But the inundation of all that negativity had created a miserable guy.

The ills of the world are now so overwhelming that I wonder what one person can do. Momma X has remained on the front lines of environmental activism, now with a group that, in addition to trying influence government, actually searches out funding to purchase open space for permanent protection, bypassing many slower-moving machinations of legal entanglement. Direct action, so to speak.

I still manage to write a ‘letter to the editor’ every now and then, and support Momma in her endeavors, helping her edit articles and engaging in functions geared to the environment— but wonder again—why?  Younger people don't seem to be getting involved with the established groups. The local Audubon Society looks like an old age home, as does the Sierra Club. Where is the next generation? I know of existing high school enviro clubs, but the kids seem to get lost once they get to college age. Life must get in their way.

That figures.

In some sense, I would love to go back to a younger age. But thinking one step further, I wonder if I could do as well in this chip-oriented society we’ve shifted to. When I was young, with the proper education (which cost much less than now) we could pretty much go into any field we wanted. Now, kids fresh out of college don’t have that luxury. Those with basic degrees are competing for fast-food jobs. Whatever will the future hold for those like me without a college education?

What does the future of the world look like? In some ways, Momma and I are tired of beating our heads against a wall of capitalist abuse. But where are the troops to follow upon our heels? They’ll be dealing with a dire situation where machines accomplish many of the jobs once done by humans. Their ways of living are on the line, but on a very basic level at such a young age, with virtually all their lives yet to live. What is to be their future?

So just this morning, I’m reading the paper and see an article that tells me this year’s Columbia River salmon run may be depleted by up to 80%, due largely to drought and high temperatures in the greater Northwest. Elsewhere in the world, elephants are on their way out from poaching. Ditto for the tiger and rhinoceros. In fact, we’re witnessing a mass extinction to rival the demise of dinosaurs.

Maybe it’s better not to think.


  1. One factor you have to consider: bad news makes for good advertising copy. It's easy to imagine dystopias--heck, I've done it many time-- but in there are many positive developments in the world that don't get any press at all. Not all the news about the environment, for instance, is depressing. There are success stories like the wolves in Yellowstone, the rejuvenation of rivers once hopelessly polluted, the fact that CFCs have been phased out. They just don't sell papers (or iPhones, or whatever is being advertised these days).

    I have to admit that the political and economic situation in the US is pretty frustrating. But then I listen to Bernie Sanders and I feel better. Some people do still get it.

    1. Yes, to some extent, bad news makes more of a splash than the good. That's the carrot of optimism I mentioned in the first paragraph. That's the smidgen of hope we can only pray will catch hold and blossom in the public eye.

      Another good indicator for optimism is that Momma X won recognition at a dinner last night for "Volunteer of the Year" in our county environmental group.

      Yay grrrrl!

  2. Like Daddy X, I worry that the environmental successes have been made in the recent past, not right now, and in fact the advances are being challenged by those who want to dismantle them, funded by those who would profit from dismantling. I do still have some hope for the political atmosphere to swing back toward rational thought for the future. Regarding Bernie Sanders, I.m reminded of the theory that a country needs two Chief Executives, one for domestic affairs and one for world affairs. But that would need an overhaul to our Constitution, and if we haven't even been able to pass the ERA amendment, I don't see any prospects for any Constitutional amendments.

  3. We depend on the left/right pendulum to swing evenly, but it seems to have been pretty static since 1980. Jammed against the right wall.

    And, yes. Bernie Sanders. The only one out there for altruistic reasons. Talking sense, no less! He doesn't have a chance against all the crazy rhetoric. He's just too smart to be trusted by the masses. Remember: An ignorant or hateful vote has the same elective value as an educated vote.

  4. My husband and kids are always telling me to stop reading/thinking/talking about things I can't do anything about. But if we all bury our heads in the sand, then the !% with the power and money will continue to run roughshod over the planet, consuming it until there's nothing left even for them. I've been an avid environmentalist since the 70s, recycling before it was convenient, way before we had curbside pick-up in our leafy suburb.

    It does seem like only old folks care to protest anymore. I joined a group, DAWN: DuPage (county) Against War Now, back when George W. started the Iraq war. Husband and I went to candlelight vigils, but even our boys, who had to register with the Selective Service when they turned 18, couldn't find the time or interest to join us. I got certified to register people to vote, and my one son berates me, telling me that I should stop "registering these uninformed morons to vote." (Note: I was the one to teach my kids that most people don't get any wiser as they age, they remain as uneducated and ignorant as they were when young. Very frustrating to those of us who actually use both lobes of our brains for things other than keeping your ears separate.) But since I sub in high schools, I primarily register teens who turn 18, and young people attending our local junior college. Some decline to register telling me they don't even care enough to find out about the candidates or issues, so why bother. Sigh. I know it's tough growing up, and adulthood is fraught with perils never anticipated or predicted back in our day. But still, why not take advantage of your right to influence, however minutely, the future?

    Before he passed away, my late father would rail on and on about how ignorant and disingenuous the US politicians were, and he'd send me articles from The Guardian, because the "British papers at least report the news, not that celebrity shite." Funny, since Rupurt Murdoch started his tabloid empire in Britain. But I had to agree that The Guardian on-line has more substantive articles, just like Al-Jazeera reports more substantively on issues than the networks who seem primarily concerned with the latest fashion trends of the rich and fatuous. But a few days before he died, he told me he was "sick of the whole thing. He didn't care any longer if the planet went to hell in a hand-basket, because he wasn't going to be around to see it, so he didn't give any shits anymore." Then he died.

    I tell my kids that's how they'll know I'm not long for this world. When I stop caring, and stop railing on about the injustices being perpetuated against the citizens of our planet by those with no conscience, then I'll be preparing myself to depart. Until then, I'm going to send them articles, talk about things around the campfire, and yes, yell about things when I get angry. I work too much to be able to volunteer much, but I do what I can.

    1. Perhaps it was easier for our generation in that being involved was 'hip'. Activism defined the 'in' crowd. Now there are other focuses for teens. See what passes for 'hipster' these days? Some twenty-something with a baseball hat, khaki shorts and t-shirt with the company logo. hipster indeed! More like a conformist.

      Grrr. Stay off my lawn! :>)

  5. Congrats to Momma X!

    I agree that it's hard to figure out how much to pay attention to the news, what with its extremely depressing contents. I do think there's more going on with younger people than is suggested in the comments here. One can't ignore that many people congregate online these days, and protests in that form can have power.

    1. Yeah, that's something I wouldn't know much about. I'm sure lots gets done on-line these days. For one thing, it is easier to register an opinion with a congressional representative..


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