Revolution of Understanding

I have had the good fortune to visit Australia a few times. I deeply appreciated the beauty, the wildlife, the kindness of the people and the bits of aboriginal wisdom that I gleaned. The fires consuming much of that continent are leaving behind horrific loss. The efforts to save the animals are heroic and inspiring, but the sorrow is palpable.

Last year’s fires in the Amazon were attributed to agribusiness and the unwillingness of people to consider the consequences of such catastrophic change. Indigenous leaders are assassinated routinely as they desperately inform us of the folly of over consumption.

The media rarely tells their story.

Or are we simply too busy maintaining unsustainable lifestyles to care?

The unprecedented flooding of Jakarta is mostly ignored, as has been Puerto Rico’s never ending quakes. Compassion, once a revered trait, now takes a second seat to costs and profits. But, no worries, we have unlimited finances when war and oil are the concerns.

In the debate over climate change we have lost a lot of time. Corporate advertising and political lobbyists have successfully lulled too many into a stupor. The President and Congress are eliminating laws that protect our water, air and public lands – and giving corporate greed even more incentive to destroy the earth.

What will it take to turn it around?

A while back I heard the phase “revolution of understanding”,* and I have concluded that yes, if we are to find a way through this nightmare, it will take tremendous understanding. It will take the understanding that we are one people and one planet.  It will require vision and courage to make the choices that could have been made long ago.

Most importantly it will demand our love; the fiery kind of powerful love that refuses anything less. We can do this.

 

  • “Revolution of understanding” is a phrase I heard from Prem Rawat, a human being whose conviction towards living helps others to walk their own walk. And I for one am grateful.

 

Lovers of the Earth Know

In between the downpours that have become autumn’s new norm, I heard a faint cry from the potato patch. The potatoes were calling me to come and get them. I know that is ridiculous and perhaps it was my stomach saying it was time for lunch, but regardless, I took the time to unearth those precious gems. Heavy spring rains made their planting late and now they seemed pushed to the surface by the swell of water that continues to fall from the sky.

In case you haven’t gotten the memo, the times they are a changin’. The name we have given it is climate change. And while politicians debate the causes and pundits advance notions of population control and promote the need to industrialize our food systems even more, the gardener and the harvester observe and respond to the roller coaster ride that we are now engaged in.

To say we are in challenging times is an understatement.

As if uncertainty is not enough, the media spin attempts to guide us with fear. The already prevalent notion of scarcity is driving our pocket books and our vision.  When all the while, the earth remains quite capable of feeding us.

This is what the lover of the earth knows.

The lover of the earth knows that there is still time to learn from the seasons, to enrich the soil, to re-discover old wisdoms and re-plant old seeds. The lover of the earth knows that food of the earth is the best medicine, unadulterated and pure. And the lovers of the earth will go right on loving regardless of the climate upheaval, because we can.

The earth has many more secrets to reveal and we are capable of learning.

As for me, I’ll meet this new day with trust in my heart and hoe in hand.

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Just One Battle

There are no longer many battles to wage. There is just one.

The Amazon is burning. People in China want to eat more meat and Cattle Ag is destroying the “lungs of the Earth” to provide it to them. Leaders at the G7 climate summit made perfunctory nods and inadequate gifts of money to stop the fires, while the president of Brazil held his ground and refused their help. The indigenous president of Bolivia also turned a blind eye to the raging fires, as the Amazon burns.

The “Leader of the Free World” skipped climate meetings but let us know that he knows more than most about the environment. All this, while his band of followers continues to chant “drain the swamp” and we all sink in the quagmire.

But where was I? Oh yes, there are no longer many battles. There is just one. It’s not Chinese meat eaters, Big Ag, and not even the man who would be king. It is not the Republicans or the Democrats nor is it all the people who are so very willing to play ping pong in the duopoly that has eroded whatever hope Democracy had in this troubled land.

No, none of these are worthy opponents for battle.  There is only one. We knock that out and the rest will tumble like dominoes.

It is the war on ignorance*.

To battle ignorance we need clarity**. We need to remember who we are. We need to stop seeing our differences and take stock of our similarities. We need to remember this Earth is our home. And reckon with the reality that it is up to each one of us to protect her.

The ally of ignorance is doubt. The ally of clarity is peace. The choice is always before us. Find clarity and fight like hell.

 

 

Photo is from Wikipedia Commons on the 2019 Amazon rainforest wildfires

*Ignorance definition is – the state or fact of being ignorant : lack of knowledge, education, or awareness.  – Merriam-Webster

**Clarity definition is – the quality of being coherent and intelligible and the quality of transparency or purity. – Oxford

You Are Not A Bystander

I recently met a young woman and our conversation turned towards social injustice and environmental destruction. She told me she was at a loss for what to do and that she felt like a bystander. I had never heard it put that way: a bystander, someone who looks on but does nothing as events take place.

There seems to be a lot of bystanding these days. Some of us are completely paralyzed by the inhumanity and cannot conceive of what to do. Some are quietly ok with all that is happening to the environment and to the people who are trying desperately to protect it. Still others are jumping on the bandwagon of destruction convinced that the resources of the earth are here for the taking.

For a moment I was unsure what to tell this young woman. She was clearly of means and able to articulate the travesties, so she was paying attention. Inertia can be a tough nut to crack, but it can be cracked.

So to all of you bystanders out there, here is a tip: Do yourself a favor. On September 20th, there will be a Global Climate Strike. Participate. Take time to learn, tell others, send donations, and stand with the youth who are organizing the strike.

This year the earth has seen the hottest temperatures in recorded history. And indigenous environmental activists are being assassinated for defending our planet.

If you are breathing you are not a bystander, you are a participant in life on earth. Doing nothing allows you to be complicit in its destruction. While we are here the earth is our home and it is incumbent upon us to do more than watch as human ignorance destroys it.

No one is a bystander. There are those who are conscious and those who are asleep. Wake up.  The green path waits.

Resiliency

The melting snow that brought the most recent flooding added to the widening creeks and changed topography of the Driftless. As I surveyed the battered roads and considered where to place culverts, I realized we are embarking on a dynamically changing time. The new flood planes have already forced many from their homes with more likely to come. And discussions of relocating businesses have taken on a whole new meaning as rural towns face the inevitable decisions that lie ahead.

Politicians talk of dams. And I wonder if they are seriously considering this costly and limited solution that seems akin to putting a finger in the dyke.

It makes much more sense to me to hear old time farmers talk about growing varieties of grasses that root deep into the soil and help absorb runoff, rather than build costly fixes like dams.

Then came the news of the wipeout in Nebraska and surrounding Midwestern states. Water is showing us who is king. We have gone horribly astray as we tried to outmaneuver Mother Nature instead of living in sustainable harmony with her.

Unprecedented flooding has also crippled the Pine Ridge, Rosebud and Cheyenne River Reservations wiping out roads and corrupting water supplies. Help there is also desperately needed.

We are being forced to reckon with this new reality. We are being asked to think in new ways and to help one another.  We are coming to the realization of the preciousness and the destructive nature of water and the clock is ticking.

Here in the Driftless we are cleaning up our waterways. We are helping neighbors relocate; and we are talking about community in very real terms.

The differences among us are melting along with the snow and that is how it needs to be as we face this new day and discover our resiliency.

 

Check this site for more updated information on recovery / resiliency efforts in the Driftless.

You can listen to the hour WDRT program  “Conversations” with Jen Schmitz as we discuss resiliency and recovery happening in the Driftless.

You can listen to this WDRT broadcast of “Consider This” on Soundcloud

Cut a New Path

When winter takes full advantage of every day left to her to douse us with rain followed by snow and frigid temps, what do we do?

We stand up and carry on.

When the road to home is made impassable by snow and ice, what do we do?

We cut a new path.

There’s no time to bemoan the situation. There is no surplus energy to be wasted. There are chores to be done and needs to be met. And there’s just enough hope and strength to cut a new path and make a new way.

These frigid times challenge us to retain our dignity and sense of humor.

It is not only here in the Driftless that we are being pushed to the furthest reaches of our capabilities; the entire United States in is the throws of a harsh winter. Not simply from Nature, but in the depths of our soul. The systems that were built to provide for people are crumbling and the divisiveness leads to despair.

We are coming to an impassable situation.

For those who can stomach it, the news of the day grows ever more alarming. Our inability to address the humanitarian needs at our southern border, the ever-increasing risk to our water and air, and the insatiable lust for power and war, rivaled by an insatiable lust for trafficking women and children are but a few of the obstructions to our walk.

As I listened to the proceedings on the Cohen hearings, I heard an insistence that we stand up and carry on. There was hope in Representative Elijah Cummings words when he chided us to not stand on the sidelines and say nothing. “Come on”, he told us “we are better than this.”

Yes, sir, we are. And it is time to shake off the chill and cut a new path.

 

Thanks to WDRT for airing Consider This every Thursday, 5:30 pm CST.

Prefer to listen? Try Soundcloud.

What We Can Do

This week brought us two game changers: Hurricane Michael and the United Nations’ report on climate change. Michael is being touted as the fourth largest hurricane to hit the United States and the United Nations’ report issued a dire warning. We have twelve years to reduce our emissions or face catastrophic challenges worldwide. Lessor known was the explosion of a gas pipeline. Pipeline ruptures continue to disrupt peoples’ lives and destroy the environment.  Yet our fracked gas and tar sands oil are heralded as “progress” and an economic boon, as we supply the world with fossil fuels.

Indonesia lost over 2000 people to the tsunami. If national or international news is too much to bear, we have the flooding of the Kickapoo to understand this perilous moment in time. The devastation wreaked on our communities followed by unprecedented rain is forcing us to realize Nature can no longer be ignored.

What we know is this: the amount of fossil fuel energy we burn is no longer sustainable. The destruction to the environment is not justifiable. We must face the simple truth: Our dependent relationship with fossil fuels must end. The brighter note is this: the conversion to renewable living will help enliven our communities.

Creating local renewable energy, buying locally produced foods and goods will dramatically reduce our carbon footprint.

There is nothing to be confused about; there is nothing to fear. The report’s reckoning is that it has finally come down to each of us. Consume less. Period. We have educated ourselves into becoming a consumer nation and we can educate ourselves into becoming a sustainable one. There are critical choices ahead. Choices we each must make regardless of our corporate government. We are not victims. We hold the key. Choose.

 

*I found the poster pictured here at a recent event in La Crosse and discovered the amazing work of Christi Belcourt

**You can listen to this offering for “Consider This” on my Soundcloud page.

You can listen to “Consider This” live every Thursday evening at 5:28 pm CST on WDRT