Monday, November 23, 2009

Driving As Fast As We Can

I had a funny conversation while Skyping with my twin brother the other morning. Well, it was funny to me, but that's because I have a terribly morbid sense of humor. You don't know that about me but it's true. My brother is a sweetheart of a man. He is a social worker who serves the schizophrenic and bipolar community in the county just south of where he lives. He commutes 80 miles daily (that's round trip), and is very conscious of his mileage and his carbon footprint. Well over a year ago, he decided to not drive over 60 mph, which is slow for California drivers on almost any highway, but that was his commitment. Until the other day, when it occurred to him that the earth is a complete mess, and is really not going to recover while we humans are still on it. So rather than driving slowly to impede the slow destruction, he's decided to drive as fast as he can to assist in the demise. He told me, "I'm driving 75 mph now." We laughed about it until tears rolled down our cheeks. I told him I wanted a bumper sticker that says:

We roared.

Except some part of us was solemnly serious. We grew up in a household without formal religion, so we always placed our faith in our fellow humans, in community and in government. But we see that even a faith in things that can be seen and known can be as absurd as any other. We had a dark awakening, a bleak epiphany accompanied by a bit of hysteria. Perhaps there is a certain relief in not believing anymore that we can effect a change, work to make things better. That head-banging gets old pretty fast, well I mean after 40 years of it, you finally do have to see what's in front of you. A handful of earth-firsters and recyclers are not going to save the world. For the most part, it's already over. Is that an awful thing to say or think out loud? It won't be a dramatic 2012 scenario, but the slow agony of little losses that will eventually amount to the loss of everything. Do you see that too? Or is there some shining hope on your horizon that actually makes sense? We see there is hardly the will in our government to end wars; provide a basic human right to health care; or even to have a serious conversation about global climate change (Oh Copenhagen, you can drop dead). We're a mess on every measurable scale. It is completely acceptable to privatize profit and socialize loss; to protect the mighty while they stand on the backs of the weak and fallen. Our fellow citizens exalt inanity; foster the apotheosis of insipid politicians; and stare blankly at television screens while eating foods that will never in a million years actually nourish them (but have a shelf-life lasting that long). It's a mighty bleak landscape, one that requires maximum speed for traversing.

So, how could we not laugh? We laughed. I mean really laughed. Like there's no tomorrow.

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