Saturday, June 25, 2011


If you've read my poem “Deathstoppers,” you probably noticed that I've been trying to follow the strategy laid out there.

The team deployed throughout the world
Its goal was crystal clear
To stop the death that threatened all
Without a shred of fear.

Whether they call themselves “environmentalists,” “sustainability activists,” “greens,” or “conservationists” (among many names), a large number of people are working toward the same ultimate goal. In my case, I've just defined a set of values which recognizes the extinction of species and destruction of ecosystems as inherently bad, and am trying to live by those values.

Its members started with the worst
The ones who didn't share
Who raped the land for fun and gain
And cared not what was fair.

They called them out for what they were
Made their acts a source of shame
No one took their money
For fear they'd share the blame.

For most of my life, I had the philosophy of “live and let live.” Out of respect (and an overdose of humility), I assumed that all but a few people ultimately wanted the same things and had the same values. With awareness and adequate tools to connect the dots about what was happening to all of us, we each contribute to a better world in our own way.

Then I found out I was wrong. A lot of people are willing to sacrifice the lives and livelihoods of others, even the future of our species, for their own personal gain. They have also adopted ideologies and beliefs that shield them from understanding or feeling responsible for their actions. Like children who haven't developed a healthy, mature empathy for others, they need to be taught – or forced – to care, so they won't harm others as well as themselves.

They will continue for as long as they are rewarded for their bad behavior, primarily through wealth and power. To stop them we have to both educate them and stop rewarding them. Like children, they need to recognize their actions as a source of shame. Choosing not to buy from them and freely using terms like “planet-killer” work toward those ends.

Next the team set out to change
How much it cost to live
By growing more of Nature
So freely it could give.

The land provided basics
Renewable each year
While factories made less and less
Of unnecessary gear.

When people have power over others' ability to meet their needs, consumption becomes decoupled from the physical reality that supports those needs. The biosphere's innate sustainability stems from the direct contribution of species to the system that provides their needs. If people are able to survive by more direct interaction with the natural world, fewer resources will be subject to the whims of others, which have historically produced far more waste.

People learned to value life
In all its varied kinds
The team showed how we're all the same
Part of a web that binds.

As we reestablish our bonds with other people and other species, we will hopefully rediscover that life is to be cherished instead of used and disposed of, because we are all part of it.

Though some remained who wanted more
The earth chose what they had
Slowly wounds began to heal
As good replaced the bad.

Disaster was averted
Death slowed to a crawl
Love and health became the rule
The team became us all.

My vision of the ideal result is summarized in these last words. It is what I hope for, and what I work for.

We are, unfortunately, still in the early phases of this process. Many of us don't even realize how much is at stake, having trained to be ignorant and accepting of the system that is ruining our world. I like to think that I'm a pretty smart person, and I didn't get it until I was in my forties. Now, in my fifties, I'm starting to be an active part of “the team,” in word and more in deed. But time is running out, and the planet-killers, I'm afraid, are winning.