Monday, July 24, 2006

tree hugger

When I was seven or so, a very wealthy Italian count and his wife saw me playing around the pool of the hotel Taiwana in St. Barths, where my father and I were staple fixtures during the holidays.
This couple approached my father and, in all seriousness, offered him money and their word if he would hand over custody of me, his daughter, to them, two strangers, until my 18th birthday.
They had big dreams for me, they said. They would send me to the finest schools, expose me to the most important people and places, breed me for royalty...
Tempted as he might have been, my father kindly, and thankfully, declined.

The point of this story is that the world has a lot of well intentioned but disconnected people in it. It's hard to fault people, like the count and his wife who've probably never known a life in which people and things were not bought and sold as commonly as flour or sugar, for their ignorance. Their isolated and privileged existence likely gave them no point of reference to make their offer seem at all strange.
Let them eat cake.

As mentioned in an earlier blog, I went to see An Inconvenient Truth not long ago and I realized watching it that I, both as an individual and as an American, have essentially been like that Italian couple: ignorant and disconnected.

Its not entirely my fault; society is not set up for intelligence or responsibility. We have no intelligent, responsible government to lead us or to disseminate the necessary information that would give us, the general American public, some point of reference for reality. At the end of the day we are, generally speaking, a comfortably isolated nation of people, privileged beyond precedence, whose ignorance and disconnect is as dangerous to our existence as the mentality of the French aristocracy was to theirs, except the stakes now are much higher.

My initial ignorance may not have been entirely my fault, but having watched An Inconvenient Truth, I cannot in good conscience fail to do my best to protect and regenerate the environment in whatever small way possible. To ignore the information I was graciously given would be to absolve myself of any responsibility and to thereby commit a crime against earth and humanity.

That's the bitch about knowledge- it never comes for free. You don't get to feign ignorance once you know something. Ain't ignorance bliss...

So the reason I write any of this to begin with is because there is more news on the environmental front from the BBC. The headline is as follows: Arctic dips as global waters rise.

Now I am certainly not the most environmentally friendly person- I don't live in a straw-bale house, I don't use solar or wind energy- but there are things that I, and everyone else, can do, the first of which is to get educated. An Inconvenient Truth has some information on their website, and there are plenty of other resources both in print and on the web.

I'm not necessarily talking about changing the world, though that would be nice. I'm just talking about changing ourselves. We can drown in ignorance, literally, or we can try and do something about it.

I'm hoping for the latter.

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“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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