Thursday, 21 May 2009

Isolation and Efficiency, and How They Came Around to Bite Us in the Backside

A couple of interesting links to share with you.

The title of this post is lifted from a speech I came across today whilst blog-browsing. It's Barbara Kingsolver's commencement address at Duke University and it is lovely - meandering yet whole, funny, uplifting, vivid, thoughtful. It's called "How to be hopeful" and paints saving our lives on earth as the next big battle, along the lines of historical battles such as the abolishment of slavery, universal suffrage and the civil rights movement -

"That will be the central question of your adult life: to escape the wild rumpus of carbon-fuel dependency, in the nick of time. You’ll make rules that were previously unthinkable, imposing limits on what we can use and possess. You will radically reconsider the power relationship between humans and our habitat. In the words of my esteemed colleague and friend, Wendell Berry, the new Emancipation Proclamation will not be for a specific race or species, but for life itself."

She also talks about ideas of success, describing how things seem to be at present:

"Exhaled by culture, taken in like oxygen, we hold these truths to be self-evident: You get what you pay for. Success is everything. Work is what you do for money, and that’s what counts. How could it be otherwise? And the converse of that last rule, of course, is that if you’re not paid to do a thing, it can’t be important. If a child writes a poem and proudly reads it, adults may wink and ask, “Think there’s a lot of money in that?”"

and as to what could be:

"You could invent a new kind of Success that includes children’s poetry, butterfly migrations, butterfly kisses, the Grand Canyon, eternity. If somebody says “Your money or your life,” you could say: Life. And mean it. You’ll see things collapse in your time, the big houses, the empires of glass. The new green things that sprout up through the wreck –- those will be yours."

I read that a couple of times, and felt kind of softened, comforted, open, hopeful... But the bit I really want to take from this is the following:

"The hardest part will be to convince yourself of the possibilities, and hang on. If you run out of hope at the end of the day, to rise in the morning and put it on again with your shoes. Hope is the only reason you won’t give in, burn what’s left of the ship and go down with it. "

Read the whole speech here:

I came across this through an interesting comments conversation (commentsation?) that sprang up from this post over on No-Impact Man , which in turn is a reply to this article in The New Republic. The article talks about a 'green bubble' which is bursting as the economic crisis draws people away from environmental concerns. It was difficult to read objectively because I kept wanting to say, "well, I'm not like this or that", as it takes rather a snide view of the green movement, however I want to go back and read it again without taking it so personally as it seems to me important to read things that challenge your views as well as those that bolster them. To read without bristling and feeling attacked, but to use their arguments to see what you agree with and what you don't, to see if you want to adapt your held beliefs, or if you can more clearly focus your position by working out what exactly it is that you oppose or disagree with.


Color Me Green said...

i haven't read the green bubble article yet, but arduous blog had a great response to it today:

LK said...

thanks for the link - really interesting. I feel so uneducated reading all this and realise so little of what I believe is backed up with real solid facts that I can meaningfully organise. I really need to get more reading done!