Thursday, September 11, 2008

Idle Times

Ok, so I have chicken pox. Of all things. I thought it was measles at first but it tricksed me. Tricksy little viruses. Regardless, I look like Swamp Thing but it's all fine. Aesthetics aside, it's getting better. If my face falls off, well, that'll just make for a really interesting weekend.

Anyway-As I've been laying around in bed the past...week?...I've been doing a lot of thinking about this little election we're facing. Ok, so I know I'm probably late to jump on the bandwagon-I haven't been doing my rounds as usual, frankly, I haven't been doing much of anything, but I'm going to add my voice to whatever mix is out there.

I'm pissed.

I've been pissed for eight years. I've waited for eight years. And I am not about to stand here, lie here, sit here, whatever, and watch another pig-headed, foolish ass run the country. Regardless of what side of the line we stand on politically I don't think there's a single person right now who can say that they are really, truly happy with the state of things. You look at the anniversaries that have come and gone, Katrina, 9/11 and you have to wonder-what have we done with the time we've been given? Not a damn thing.

We have a city still in ruins because our government cares more about feeding their fat faces than repairing peoples lives.

We have memorials to commemorate people who died and what have we accomplished? If any of you are conspiracy theorists than perhaps you join me in a bit of wry smiling and head shaking, but regardless (or perhaps as Bush would say, irregardless..), we can throw up pretty memorials and say a bunch of nice, empty words and yet our actions, our ACTIONS show that we don't really give a damn. I'm sick of claiming a society that is so smug and so busy being pleased with ourselves over nothing that we can't smell our own bullshit.

I'll tell you something, the only reason Gustav got coverage was because it damaged oil sources, not because thousands of people were losing their lives as it ravaged across the seas-not because it threatened an already hobbling New Orleans. No, it got attention because of Oil.

We are drunk on it. We are gorged on it. I'm surprised it doesn't bleed out of the assholes in Washington every time they sit down. There has got to be a better solution.

People can throw around big words like Off Shore Drilling and Alaskan Tundra and Global Market but what it really boils down to is a quick fix. Nothing that is sucked out of this dehydrated earth today is going to affect our market before five, ten, fifteen, maybe twenty years. I'll be 45 in twenty years, at that point, I plan on being car free, living in a house that actually saves energy, running my business and going from there. Not stuffing my gas guzzling car full of more dirty, desperately endangered natural resources.

If I'm really honest, I am terrified, more than I can express with any word in any language, or any of the images I draw or paint, for the state of our environment. We live here, if we want to continue to do that, we have to change. And I mean, really, in our hearts and in our guts, change.

There is this word that people seem to be allergic to these's called Responsibility. I'm not going to preach, we're all adults, we all know the meaning of this word. The problem is everyone seems afraid to do anything with it. Afraid or apathetic. I'm not sure which anymore.

To become an oil free nation is going to take time. The world and the global economy would come crashing down around our feet tomorrow if we pulled oil off the market right this second. We'd have bigger problems than Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and The Lehman Brothers to worry about, that's for sure. But to really, actually realize the reality that everyone keeps talking about, we're going to have to start now. Not 4 years from now, not 8 years from now, but NOW.

Germany has the right idea-the other day I helped to clean out some moving boxes. We came across old cassette tapes that we have no player to listen to them with instead of dumping the whole thing in the trash, we took the cassettes out of their cases, put the cases in the yellow sack (which is the best invention ever...more in a minute) and put the rest in the "trash". All of it will be recycled. No rewards. No gimmicks. No expensive monthly fees to pay. Just done. Over, simple. No problem. Recycling is inherent in peoples lives here. To the point where the country can take other countries garbage and dispose of it for them.

Imagine if America actually got off its fat ass and tried that? Tried actually putting clear, functional, affordable recycling tools in peoples homes. The yellow sack idea is fantastic if you ask me. It's a bag, and it's yellow. Hence the name. And in it you put anything that qualifies as packaging. Plastic wrappers, casings, boxes, you name it, in the bag. And then you set it out on your curb like normal trash twice a week and it goes away. Into the blue yonder to be recycled in a clean and generally efficient manner. How hard is this? We're one of the biggest societies in the world and we can't figure out how to quit dumping our shit into the oceans and the landfills and streets? It's pathetic and it's sickening.

Germany also utilizes bio-tons. All biological food items (peelings, egg shells, small bits of leftovers) go into a trashcan looking container and taken to the giant compost heap. There's no smell, there's no unsightly anything, it's just a better way of processing waste. It's not that difficult.

Alas, things like this require that people set down their Blackberrys and their Starbucks Latte's *who really could do better and use 100 percent recycled cups instead of 60%. They have more money than would probably improve their economic efficiency in the long run.* and DO something that takes a few extra seconds out of their day. More specifically, people need to put aside their bloated Egos that says they are more important than every other living creature on this planet and take a minute. Figure out how to carpool. Look into setting up a car share program in their city *which I'm going to look into once I'm back in the States. If I have to call the Wisconsin government and ask them, "How did you set up your rideshare?" I will. It can't be that hard. It would do wonders for our fuel and energy consumption though.

Ok, so in case you can't tell, I'm a bleeding heart hippy Liberal and I'm damn proud of it. I have a friend who is a Republican..we've been friends for almost 11 years. Friendship is deeper than politics and we've agreed to disagree on a lot--however, I care too much about this election to let it slip through our fingers again.

To win I think we need, above all, unity. We need to get behind our candidate and show that age does not equal wisdom. That throwing a pretty pair of tits up in front of the cameras who also happen to have a mouth and a brain attached to them is not the answer we're looking for when we say "We need change". It isn't about gender anymore. That Ace was already played and pocketed by Clinton. It's about reform. It's about motivation. I don't think John McCain can motivate anyone to do anything different than they are already doing. Which is the last thing anyone needs. Because what we've been doing isn't working. Someone remind me, what's the definition of Insanity again?

We think in terms of money, not honesty or environment unfortunately. Global Warming only became popular when we began to realize that it was costing us extra money (in the form of taxes, higher costs of living, the buzzword energy prices)...and it was hurting the environment. Ok, so money got our attention--the environments state has held it because the link between the two has been formed--now lets do something about it. Let's help both ourselves and the planet...which really should be first because as the saying goes...."Your last suit doesn't have any pockets." You can make all the money in the world and none of it will matter when we're dead. When that fate arrives on our doorstep has a lot to do with the changes and decisions we make today.

Clean air and water and all that other important stuff doesn't have any impact on people anymore. It's taken for granted. We've never had to suffer blindness because of contaminated drinking water like some countries. We should be grateful for that. Because at this rate, someday, we might. Ok, so all of that aside--you can't march around with signs in your hand that say "Save the Planet" and expect to spark change anymore. You can't yell and scream in public and expect to be heard. You have to do the hardest thing anyone can have to change and you have to make sure other people know you've changed and lead by example.

There's a fine line between leading and flaunting but really, I think we could all manage. I have friends who truly have made lifestyle changes that are suited towards the environment. They get their groceries from a local KC Farming Collective. They built a house that uses the heat from the earth to stay warm. Every piece of wood in their home was set to be thrown away or burned and they salvaged it, reclaimed it and reused it. They did a lot of the work themselves instead of hiring out other people to do it for them, they bought appliances and items that conserve energy.

You don't have to go to that extreme necessarily but there are things you can do in your day to day life, more than just changing your lightbulbs or unplugging your appliances before you go to bed that can really make an impact. And that can show to the public and to the politics in a big way that we are ready to start down the road towards a future we can actually be proud to be part of.

We have big, scary issues facing our lives right now, threatening the very day to day routines that we take for granted. But only if we let it. If we can step away from our obsession with money and oil, if we can look to the other side of Privilege and see what Could Be, if we can stop fooling ourselves and start sacrificing, changing, revamping whatever you want to call it, the way we live our lives, then we can start to talk about renewable energy. Foreign Policy. Education. Above all, education.

In my belief, it starts with us before it starts with Politics but putting Obama in office wouldn't be a bad first step. 0:D That's just one liberals opinion.

In the end, though, it really comes down to what we do as a people. Not as Republicans or Democrats. We get too attached to labels in our society. We are all just people-and as people we have a responsibility to do what we can today. Take back the marionette strings and see what can happen.


Lisa said...

I'm impressed by your passion -- when I was 25, Reagan was serving his second term, I was a year into a four year assignment in Germany and I was completely oblivious to politics.

While I agree with everything you've said about our culture's general complacency about the environment and about making sacrifices, and I applaud those who do their part (and don't get me wrong, I try, I recycle, etc.), there can't be any significant positive impact to the environment through our voluntary actions. There will never be enough people willing to pay more, willing to be inconvenienced, willing to give up their gas guzzling SUVs, willing to retrofit home energy systems, etc. to make a difference.

The government has to force the issue by aggressively establishing programs to change out our power systems to nuclear, solar and wind. They've got to provide incentives and mandates for the automotive industry to reduce emissions and to produce vehicles that use alternative forms of energy. They've got to provide incentives for the gas stations to convert fuels -- all that stuff has to happen in order to make a noticeable dent. And they can and they will if the want to.

I have no confidence that the American people will do anywhere near enough if they have to do it voluntarily.

When half of the RNC was punctuated with "drill, baby drill", I think we know that.

Riss said...

You're right. I know it but it still makes me angry. I hate the idea that a nation of adults needs to be parented and basically forced into making the right decision. What happened to integrity? Perhaps it too was just a passing trend.

Anonymous said...

I love this post. It touches not only on environment, but the state of hypocrisy people live in. I specifically mention the richer classes, whether in the 3rd or the 1st world. Just that the West has more of them.
Around our part of the globe, the poor recycle what the rich throw away. I have seen a motor cycle mirror, serving as a real mirror in the walls of my village.
What does that say about human beings. The more we have, the more flagrant we get with it.
One more thing; America has to lead the way. And for God's sake, tell your representatives to stop talking war. I am scared shitless, of nukes and WMD's still to be built, while America sits on the biggest stockpile of all. Lets get rid of them WMD's once and for all. Use the money for solar energy and clean water. There won't be much left after a few years - the way we are going.

Steve Malley said...



Just kidding. I'm quite the ardent recycler, m'self. And when I left the U.S. Clinton was still diddling the interns. After those little tempests in teapots, I can't tell you what it was like to watch wholesale incompetence, greed and straight-up fucking evil carry the day.

I only pray it's over. For now.

Riss said...

Actually-now that I've stopped to think about, I'm not going to just give a blanket statement and say that the government has to babysit us and that I was wrong to think that people can change. Ok, so it's not a one sided fix, either Us or the Government. It's both. That's the whole point behind Obama's message I think. It's not that I'm just an overly passionate yet misguided kid who thinks that change is still possible-nor is it that we're all going to be rescued by a Knight in Shining Armor who is going to save us from ourselves. It has to be a union between the two. People have to change and our Government has to support those changes and force them where necessary. It has to be about an inner change as well as a political one though otherwise nothing will actually ever be different. It's like getting liposuction instead of changing your eating habits. It works for a while but eventually, things go to hell again. Maybe this is a better continuation to a rant instead of a responsive comment but whatever. Here it is.

Tim said...

Great rant, Riss -- eloquent and deeply felt. I actually think both parties have been absolutely shameful in their longterm failure to step up to any challenge that might require voters to suck it in for a while (remember, the first gas crisis was in 1976, and today we import more oil than at any time in history.) But that said, there's no doubt in my mind that the twit in the White House is the worst president in the history of the country.

Zero judgment. Zero intelligence. Zero conscience. Zero competence. Zero ethics.

About the only thing I can say in Bush's favor is that he lived through his campaign and spared us his vice president in the White House. I'm not sure we'll be able to say the same thing about McCain.

And that's what we need. A creationist who doesn't think global warming is human-made and who couldn't even identify the Bush Doctrine in her (only) interview. Who lies about seeking funding for the Bridge to Nowhere and who might herself be a Bridge to Nowhere if she ever gets into the Oval Office.

I'm not sleepinh well lately.

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