Friday, 16 September 2016
I follow the work of George Monbiot, a passionate environmentalist keen on re-wilding as am I. His latest article, Disposable Planet, can be found here. As a Romantic as well as someone who values scientific reasoning, I find much to critique especially since his views are typical of many people I meet on my path to finding an ecological and sustainable way to live. The response I sent is below which will make more sense if your read his article first!
Post your comments below.
Thanks for your latest article, Disposable Planet. Incisive as always...and also despairing and hopeless, leaving me with that unsettling feeling similar to the dread in the belly during a parental telling-off. "You're using the car again...despite the planet going down the plughole!" ..."Your shower lasted 8 minutes...do you know how much water that could provide to a drought-struck village on the African continent??" Forgive me, Father. I'm also about to critique your reasoning.
So, I recently discovered a new way of thinking thanks to constellations which, like most things, suddenly seemed obvious. The Plough, Orion, the Great Bear...and all such named constellations, despite being individual stars light years away from each other, make very sketchy outlines for us humans... although simply an abstract handful of white dots in space. Why? Because we are making sense of the world around us (note - not necessarily the world we are entrenched in, but that's another story).
This "constellation" tendency is how many mortals flex their muscles with the things they've come to know. And it's a shame that the tone of your articles, as much as I enjoy reading them, fall into the same trap: a dying population here, extinct animals over there, melting ice here...and then industry growth over here, and blithe consumers shopping malls or on futuristic devices with 1,000 Apps promising every convenience. That's cause and effect, right? Surely any fool would agree. And, then, wham! you're reasoning wings are stuck in the glue!
The intellect, like the internet, makes bold promises of a world that's understood and relatively neat and organised...and seems to hint a glimpse of world without physical limitations. But we aren't just heads on legs, or fingers tapping at keyboards - we are absolutely bound to gravity, despite our spiritual yearnings. Yes, you, too. Sorry about that.
Any breadth of knowledge doesn't exempt you from the hairy contradictions and compromises we are all forced to negotiate in order to be, firstly, human and, secondly, as informed individuals, sane, happy and motivated to act from a courageous space rather than a fearful one. Not recognizing that can dislocate the relevance of your message since a reader could be forgiven for imagining that you are beaming your blogposts on fairy's wings from a self-sufficient idyll only the enlightened seers inhabit (they had accrued enough carbon-offset points).
And yet, here we both are...stuck in fleshy bodies while able to communicate without having met...through complicated technological platforms that govern and shape our lives/perceptions which make no more sense than a fairy's wing. But isn't that also a great metaphor for the sophisticated infrastructure that we're inherited from our ancestors...complete with its socio-psycho-cultural matrix? I think a writer who is full of idealism (that's my attraction to your work) as well as one who endeavours to make sense of the incomprehensible bonkers-ness of it all, has much more weight. Of course, I see all that you do, too - this is about relationality (even though Microsoft doesn't seem to recognize that word).
It's no surprise to me that The Guardian (or similar) at once recommends a healthy tuna salad and reports the abominable nature of the fishing industry; it's more shocking that you have reached this point and only highlight the paradox rather than have anything deeper to say. Informed readers aren't oblivious to the many contradictions and hypocrisies in which they can flourish or fall.
Your knowledge, coupled with your power as an articulate and well-known writer, offers you a responsibility to soften the potential blow ("real" facts about catastrophe reeled off in your article is simply that well-known journalistic tool, sensationalism). Can you offer solutions...come back to your fellow inhabitants...rather than beautifully present heartbreaking and bleak summaries of impending extinction, that leaves some of us clutching for the Kleenex and Seroxat, rather than feeling elated and aspiring for excellence and betterment? And not for the sake of sugar-coating and the nicey-nice, but for tenderness and a sense of "we're all in this together"ness? We all need a continued sense of wonder that you so elegantly express when in the presence of wilderness and the animal kingdom. We are as majestic as those phenomena and deserving of as much respect. It's not apparent in your tone that you agree...directly from the Pulpit of Doom.
....unless I'm being terribly naive and Monbiot has evolved into a brand whose USP features lamentation, sorrow and that last bastion of hope for mankind? I thought I could watch any new channel for that.
Awaiting a reply,