Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Who Are the Radicals?

By Jack Miller
Chapter Vice-Chair

Chris Hedges has written correctly, I believe, that “a consumer culture based on corporate profits and limitless exploitation and continued extraction of fossil fuels is doomed.” He has also written in the same vein that “the mania for ceaseless economic expansion and exploitation has become a curse, a death sentence.” While some may view these statements as “over the top” or radical, it is the exploiters, our corporate masters, who are the extreme radicals. For limitless profit they are changing the chemistry of the air breathe, the acidity of the oceans, the basic genetics of the plants we eat, and have blown up mountains to save a few cents on a ton of coal. They have contaminated the biosphere and each of us with more than 80,000 chemicals, most of which have never been tested. Please tell me who are the radicals?
As one who is in at least the “November of my years,” sometimes I wish I could just shut my consciousness off from what is going on around me and just become a mindless consumer which so many others have chosen to be. I’m not sure if it was the Sunday school classes from long ago, my family, my involvement in scouts, my education, or my life learning that won’t allow me to do this. While my faults are many, I know that at my core I feel I have a moral obligation to those who come after me. I feel that if I don’t fight for the future of my grandchildren then I can’t really say that I love them. I must do what I can to change the direction our nation and much of the world is heading. I don’t know what hope there is for this even though I am only one of many attempting to do so. We need a lot more people to join with us.

Courtesy of http://machimon.files.wordpress.com/
If we are to continue to have a habitable planet for our grandchildren, we must change the corporate/political status of our current government. We now live in a country which is much closer to a fascist state than a democracy. With their billions the corporations control much of what constitutes our government on all levels. With their hundreds of millions in political contributions, thousands of lobbyists, their politically motivated think tanks, and their old employees working as government regulators, they control most of what happens in Washington D.C. and most of the state capitols. In elections we often only have a choice of those with the best corporate financing when we enter the voting booth.
The corporations have learned to a great extent how to control our behavior. If you have ever seen any children’s TV you know that it starts at a very early age. We are a people who always want more. We are never satisfied. We are told over and over again what happiness just one more purchase will bring. Even though our electronics marvels work perfectly fine, we “need” to have that ever more marvelous gadget.  Even when our house is perfectly comfortable, we want ever more square footage or a new kitchen make over. We are driven to feed the corporate monster.
The corporations bombard us with how wonderful they are. Telling distortions and half-truths is their daily fare. After all, they are amoral, artificial creations. They certainly shouldn't have the rights guaranteed to individuals. Just think of all the ads touting the wonders of natural gas we all have seen filled with the lie that natural gas is clean energy. It may be cleaner than coal, but everything from the site preparation to the burning of the gas is dirty. Corporate dollars have been used to distort the truth with everything from smoking to climate change. Through their distortions they have been responsible for the death of countless thousands. They have given millions of people the comfort of living in ignorance of what we are doing to our planet and to our children’s future.
I know this is a very cynical view, but the ignorance of the general population seems pervasive. Level of education doesn't seem to always be the best indicator of an individual’s general knowledge.  With many it seems, that ignorance is a conscious choice. Too often, people change the facts to fit with their beliefs. The political right has chosen ignorance on environmental issues. If they accepted the facts on environmental issues, they would be forced to have the government take action, but they are more concerned with promoting the profits of their corporate masters who handsomely reward them financially. There are far too many on the opposite side of the isle who also have their hands out.
We all can make the decision to “clean-up” the mess we have made of our home planet. I know that for some fighting to earn enough to keep their families fed and under roof that time is very limited. But we as a country seem to have lots of time for sports, movies, TV, and our electronic gadgets. I know recreation is important, but most could give up some to help to do what needs to be done. We can all use just a few minutes to get out in nature to see what we will lose if we all don’t act. Consider that we may be doing more than destroying nature, we may be doing the same to human civilization. We must all begin to act now with whatever time we have. It was Martin Luther King Jr. who said “we are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.”

Barbara Kingsolver has written, “Global commerce is driven by a single conviction: the inalienable right to earn profit, regardless of the human cost.” It is time that all of us disabuse them of this notion. While they have a right to make a profit, it must not be at the cost of our health, natural beauty, and the health of the biosphere on which we are all dependent. They must take on all their costs. They can no long increase their profits by externalizing their costs. They can no longer increase their profits at the expense of their workers’ health. They must no longer exploit their workers with inadequate pay while CEO’s have their pay increased by many millions of dollars.  

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