Sunday, February 14, 2010

it's gettin' hot in here

Fred the Dude just wrote on slacktivist about the human tendency, when someone tries to implicate you in the brokenness of this world, to start yelling and blaming and passing the hot potato to the closest patsy you can find. I have been thinking about putting in my two bits about the whole global warming thing since it first started snowing a couple of nights ago, so here it is and nuts to you, Fred, for typing faster.

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I have always thought it a wee bit funny when people start to rage about global warming - not those guys with the lab coats and the oscillating spectrowitzits - but rather people like me and you: people who don't know anything, and yet perpetually act like we know everything.

Some dude somewhere who has several pieces of paper that insist he knows everything says, "Oh, by the way, we've averaged every temperature in the whole wide world and analysed all sorts of stuff you would not understand and guess what? We've got some oceanfront property to sell you in Kansas". Then some other dude says, "Check me out, I've got a lab coat, too, and guess what? It just snowed in Louisiana. So there, you stupid, stupid, stupid-head". And then all the sudden you and me and all the other sheep who have even less of a clue what's going on, we all start yelling across the dinner table about how obvious it is that people who think the opposite of us about the decimals in the average global temperature are all idiots.

You know what I say? I say that no matter what, the world is going to have people who are going to do whatever stupid, destructive things they want to, as long as they can still feel good about themselves in the process. So they're all going to seek out people who tell them that they are awesome (or at least a bit better than most) and then they are going to listen to those people and vilify anyone who says different. We argue about average global temperatures because it is such a gargantuan concept that it enables us to yell angrily without ever facing up to the fact that everyone - even (gasp) us - is making selfish, tiny, day-to-day decisions that are making the world dirtier.

You may not litter, but you sure do drive a car on a road made out of petroleum. Or if you don't, and instead ride a bicycle and eat from dumpsters, the fact remains that that cast-off food you eat has been paid for by a glutted culture of death and destruction.

Whether or not the world is getting colder... or hotter... or more green... or even purple, the fact remains that we (that is, you, specifically, who are reading this, and I, who am writing it) are taking a beautiful, balanced, God-infused thing and we are destroying it for convenience, pleasure, and the possibility that if we pile up enough stuff other human beings will finally love us.

Now, I know you can't stay alive without destroying and that even the vegans kill things when they clean their houses and cook their bland food (microorganisms are people, too!), but it is one thing to destroy because you have to to stay alive... it is quite another to destroy without thought or care because you want to control your fear by making a big huge fort of toys in which you can hide from the reality that you are very, very small and are for absolutely certain going to get old and die.

I understand this, I do. I am writing because I feel the need to do something, and because I feel very small and want to do anything to be able to feel, today, as though I matter. I need to "wail, for the world's wrong" and the truth is, most of the time I don't. Most of the time, just like you, all I want is to be entertained and  to feel good about myself. For example, when I put my son to bed for his nap just now I sat down at this computer and honestly debated for a while whether to just watch TV on hulu, or to look for some fantasy woman I could objectify and use for pleasure (drug/failure of choice: quitting, I swear... thank God).

I chose instead to do this thing - this writing - because I believe that my options in life are only two: create, or destroy.

I feel better now. I have made something. It sure beats killing brain cells with streaming video.

Acknowledging that I am a destructive wastrel is important. It is the first step to actual, real change. It is the first step to beginning to turn destruction into creation, and it is also something that I have been saying for a long, long time. This is because I am different. And, of course, less to blame... because it's really more your fault, when I think about it. So do something already!

I'll be right here, tapping away at this coal-powered computer.

7 comments:

  1. Interesting Josh, I have thought a lot about the whole global warming thing in light of the nobel peace prize that Gore got for it and all the errors and stuff in documents that have come to light. I agree that we should do anythng we can to protect the environment within our reasonable power but i have also wondered about the oil and why God put it there in the first place and i have to believe that he put it there for us to make use of, after all what other use does it have? Just something to think about.

    I know personally I have solved many of the worlds problems over the years but no one was really listening. lol

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  2. If only they'd listened to you, Uncle Ken.

    It's an interesting question. But I think you also have to ask why God put anything there. Did God put diamonds in Africa so we could kill thousands of people to get them? Did God put coal in mountains so we could blow their tops off to get at it? Did God put lithium underground so we could strip-mine it out and then ship it as waste products to huge dumping grounds in poor countries? Did God put fish in the ocean so we could over-fish them, poison them, and then eat poisoned fish and get sick ourselves? Did God put elephants on earth so they could be killed for their tusks?

    The list goes on and on, and I think the important distinction is not whether something exists and could be conceivably used for something, but rather if it can be used in a way that demonstrates that we view the world as God does - a good thing that ought to be cared for and loved. The way we use oil, in my estimation, demonstrates hate more than anything.

    What makes this uncomfortable is that I, personally, am responsible and ought to change. I don't like that.

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  3. Yet there is Grace.

    I think if Jesus lived on earth today, he wouldn't be going on about the misuse of oil, or global warming. I *think*, he might rather spend his time the same way he did when he was here before... loving on the people that he created.

    I agree with uncle Ken. He created the world, and he created man to live on this planet. I think he expects us to use the resources that he put here. Of course we're not perfect, and we've abused things here and there. I'm not saying we shouldn't do what we can to take care of our home, just that God's not disappointed with you because you used the oil.

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  4. Let me try one last time to say what I mean and possibly convince you:

    1. There is more than just one way to use the things in this world.

    2. Some ways of using things are less destructive than others (like, say, taking a picture of an eagle's nest rather than using it as target practice for my new automatic weapon).

    3. God loves the things in this world. God made them, and called them good. Then God redeemed the world because of love for it (signifying, perhaps, that God STILL thought of it as good, or worth preserving).

    4. One does not destroy the things one loves.

    5. Just because something is done a certain way, doesn't make it right. At different times in the past, a lot of people who were claiming to be speaking for God (and, specifically, a Christian God) have said things like: "women are inferior to men," or "blacks are inferior to whites," or "you must kill the pagans to please God." Often their arguments were based on the premise "this is how it is, and therefore this is how God wants it to be".

    6. Acknowledging your guilt doesn't have to be a self-hatred-fest. Admitting your guilt is, in fact, the first step to allowing the Truth to change you. Standing around and insisting that you're just fine the way you are is the easy way, but it is also the way to continued slavery. It is for freedom that you have been set free.

    7. Yes, being less destructive means I get less convenience and comfort, and people don't want to ever get less of those things. But if I offered you a little bit MORE convenience and comfort and all you had to do was shoot one small child in the head, would you do it? What if I offered you a LOT more? Our use of oil has lead to the deaths of countless innocent children (it has) and the destruction of much that was once beautiful.

    I think we should stop.

    Now.

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  5. I am not saying there isn't grace, or that God that I think God is "disappointed" with the way we've used oil. Angry, maybe, or grieved. But "disappointed" is, I think, a gutless word.

    Loving people doesn't mean that you can never want to just slap them around a bit for the stupid things they do. And "fouling your own nest", so to speak, is stupid.

    Read the slacktivist link I posted at the beginning. It might provide some insight.

    But let me just reiterate: "use" and "abuse" are not the same thing. Just because a resource is there, doesn't mean we have a God-given right to use it in any abusive way we'd like. Just because there are trees in the forest doesn't mean we get to cut them down indiscriminately because it's great entertainment to hear the crash.

    Let me give you an extreme example: children have a high fat content. In poor countries, people breed a lot faster, and poverty could be alleviated by either eating a portion of the children, or rendering their fat for high-grade soaps and candles, which could in turn be sold for poverty-reducing education programs. This is roughly what the writer Jonathan Swift suggested in his famous satirical essay, "A Modest Proposal". My point is, something can make logical sense and actually work to solve a real problem, but still be evil.

    It is not a foregone conclusion that people HAVE to use oil. We chose to do it, and we were trying to do a good thing but now we've built an economy on it that destroys the good earth faster than anything.

    I don't see an easy way out of this, but saying "it's there so we get to use it" seems to me to be a simplistic, bombastic approach to an infinitely complex issue.

    contd...

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  6. I think you're thinking too hard about it. And, I love you.

    I think we're supposed to abuse the oil (and kill people) until we achieve space travel and escape to a new planet with new resources to discover and abuse.

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  7. Ha, ha, ha. Absolutely, Jon. I knew there was a reason why I relied on you for purpose and meaning in life. Another planet... Yes! I'm partial to Vulcan. It's too good for the Vulcans, really. Let's take it.

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