contemplating the Green New Deal

veru2_10_19I care immensely about the earth, the people on it, and our beautifully interdependent relationship. 

So it is with some hope that I saw the Green New Deal become a topic of discussion in recent months. Last week, of course, it burst onto the floor of the House of Representatives in the form of House Resolution 109.

Then, I saw a steady stream of headlines from one extreme to another. Either the Green New Deal solves all of our problems, or it destroys our freedoms, bans air travel, and provides support for those shameless enough to be ‘unwilling to work.’

So I read the actual contents of HR 109 for myself. It is not, in fact, even a lengthy read.

Let me clarify first that air travel is not banned by HR 109, nor are those ‘unwilling to work’ called out for special consideration. There is no degree of such specificity in the document. 

It is a broad, vague piece of legislation, mainly serving to give focus to the issue of climate change. It implements a ”growth” approach to the environment problem, with a heavy emphasis on economic development and economic justice.

I am not convinced, however, that depending on a massive ramping up of technology and business provides a holistic response to climate change.

I noticed, too, that certain very important sectors in such a discussion are completely absent. If you want to talk about protecting the earth, and somehow manage to leave out any mention of the US military and their various endeavors, well, there’s a gaping hole in the argument right at the get-go.

I am wary that such legislation once again promotes business solutions and interests in answer to a peoples’ problem on the survival scale. These would be the same institutions that got us into this mess in the first place.

HR 109’s “10-year national mobilization” seeks, among other things, to:

  • build resiliency against climate change-related disasters
  • repair and upgrade infrastructure
  • meet 100 percent of the US power demand through dramatically expanded and upgraded clean, renewable, zero-emission power sources and new capacity
  • build or upgrade appropriate power grids,
  • spur massive growth in clean manufacturing and removing pollution and greenhouse gas emission as much as is technologically feasible,
  • work to remove pollution and emissions from the agricultural sector as much as is technologically feasible
  • overhaul transportation systems
  • mitigate and manage effects of pollution and climate change
  • remove greenhouse gases and reduce pollution by restoring natural ecosystems through proven low-tech solutions
  • restore and protect ecosystems
  • clean up existing hazardous waste and abandoned sites, “ensuring economic development and sustainability”
  • identify other emission and solution sources and create solutions

Along the way, we generate high-quality jobs, with livable wages and healthcare, and support unions in the process. Everything is liberally sprinkled with mentions of investment, leverage, funding, because, obviously, this all costs money.

These efforts culminate with the usual objective of “promoting the international exchange of technology, expertise, products, funding, and services, with the aim of making the United States the international leader on climate action….” There ya go.

None of this sounds bad, it’s just that I see a potentially counter-productive frenzy of business and industry, technology, finance, and marketing in this ‘solution.’ It could be fun for a while.

I am not one who supposes that we will save our environment simply by turning off lights in empty rooms or religiously remembering our cloth shopping bags. Neither do I suppose that the captains of technology, finance, and manufacturing can be trusted to shape a responsible answer to the predicament they created through their demonstrated allegiance to their own pockets.

In short, I think we have to look at the system itself, and be brave enough to tackle that, creatively.  That would be before the system, or the earth, simply implodes.

on the lookout for my inner singer

veru2_7_19I can see where this whole ukulele thing is going.

I successfully mastered “Hallelujah.” In order to earn my ribbon and all, of course, I had to perform it. I quickly discovered there is no performing the song just by sitting there and quietly strumming it. Nope, you’ve actually got to strum loud enough for other people to hear. And, the fact of the matter is that you’ve really got to sing, too.

Thing is, just strumming, you could be playing anything. You’ve got to hear the melody for the strumming to make sense.

Lucky for me, my ukulele group is a supportive bunch, and no one laughed. Everyone listened intently, smiling. The instructor warmly told me what a great job I did.

So, after graduating from “Hallelujah,” I quickly mastered “All My Loving.” The main challenge here was the B flat chord. I got this piece under my belt in fairly short order.

The key was not in a comfortable range for my voice, but I struggled through the performance anyway. Again, I saw nothing but appreciation and support.

Then, I listened as an instructor played part of a piece to demonstrate to a fellow student how to strum it. She strummed loudly, with absolute authority. Her voice rang out, singing fearlessly. The music filled the room.

Okay, then.

I came home with a very challenging (for me) piece to learn. It is an arrangement which combines “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” with “What a Wonderful World.” The medley was created by the late Israel Kamakawiwo’ole.

The chords are not the problem. It’s the melody and the words. There’s a lot to it.

I watched the musician perform the song on YouTube, and it’s beautiful. I realized it was worth figuring out. The trick, ultimately, is going to be releasing my inner singer. First step, I suppose, is to find her.

Yeah. I’ve got my work cut out for me.

sitting out the Super Bowl

veru2_3_19I admit it. I find the Super Bowl disturbing.

It’s a night when seemingly all of America drops everything, comes together, and focuses all of their attention on … football.

At a very basic level, I find the game itself disturbing. It is an undisguised metaphor for battle – for war. It’s an event where the participants suit up with helmets and pads in preparation for physical assaults – which often actually do result in injuries. All of the language of the sport is war jargon. The teams play offense and defense. The crowds participate in fight songs and chants.

Worse, into this war mentality, we interject nationalism and militarism. Football, the flag, and the anthem go hand in hand – by design. And, as we know, woe be to anyone who exercises their right to dissent or simply chooses not to participate in these rituals. The militaristic marching, the flyovers, the honoring of veterans – this is somehow football.

Inequality, too, is so integral to this whole Super Bowl tradition, we see right past it. The game puts a massive rubber stamp on class issues, demonstrated through a spectrum that ranges from inherent sexism and racism to sex trafficking and the fantastic disparities of wealth so blatantly on display.

And then, there’s the famous commercials. Now, the audience doesn’t just sit passively under the onslaught of advertising – they eagerly lap it up.

On the bright side, the Super Bowl is proof positive that United States citizens really can be motivated to act as one, throwing parties across the nation and watching television – everyone at exactly the same time.

Just imagine if we put that kind of synergy toward a truly worthy effort, like, say, peace and justice.

I get it that the Super Bowl is a distraction, that it’s a fun time-out for people, especially during these worrisome times. Sad to say, though, this distraction is an artifact of the bigger worrisome game – and I’m not talking about football.

Call me a party pooper, but, no, thank you, no Super Bowl for me.