I had the shit till it all got smoked I kept the promise till the vow got broke I had to drink from the lovin’ cup I stood on the banks till the river rose up I saw the bride in her wedding gown I was in the house when the house burned down -zevon
Alright. So I’m probably a bit out of touch. We don’t watch much TV around this old brick house. Well, we do, but it’s all on DVD. All that stuff piped in from space seems a bit loud and strange to me these days. Which is why I’m more likely to be watching an episode of “Are You Being Served“. This is a classic old BBC comedy that revolves around a group of people working in “Grace Brothers” department store.
Now, in one episode the staff is outraged to find that they will suddenly be required to sign in and out when they take their breaks. Furthermore they will have to sign a different book when they go to the restroom. “to be known as the WC book…”. Ms Brahms compares this new intrusion into their privacy to Orwell’s book, “1984″. It’s funny really. Quite innocent. I guess that’s where society was in 1975. These days the UK is one of the most surveilled societies in the world. According to a recent BBC article there are 4.2 million CCTV cameras in Britain. One for every 14 people. Of course we’re doing our best to catch up over here in the states as well. These days even the gas pumps are telling you to smile for the camera. In fact a person with any sense of dignity (and a bit of paranoia) would be better off when shopping for clothing to buy 3 of everything, take them home to try them on, then take back the ones that don’t fit. Unless of course you’re proud of your hide. (New Yorker’s Might Like This) Yeah, this is what I think about when the meds wear off. . .
But that’s not really what I meant to be on about. (still with me??). Later in that dusty old episode of “Are you Being Served” everyone was asked to pull together in their union and “go slow” to get the managements attention. But that wasn’t happening for Mrs. Slocumbe. “My undies will get smutty” she exclaims! If she allowed that to happen she would lose sales, thus commissions, not something she was willing to do when she was saving for her holidays. Regardless of what you may have heard on Star Trek (to mix my TV history lesson metaphors). “The good of the many apparently does not outweigh the good of the one.” Which of course brings me back to what I was really thinking about in the first place. See, Circles & Lines. We’re obviously going round in the circles bit. . . but there was a point; We’re toast.
The problems are staggering but not new. You see, ocean ecosystems are crashing. Something the Canadians already know full well. A recent BBC article warns there will soon be “no fish for your chips”. They set an approximate end to fish as a mass food source around 2045. I’m not sure where to start with what problems this will cause globally. But we’ll get a chance to see. 2045 means we’ll feel the effects within most of our lifetimes. . well, if we eat enough fish!
As soon as you get out of the water you find that greenhouse gas emissions are increasing. Global warming is, to anyone with a grip on reality, here to stay. (Whether you like Al Gore or not) And no one’s really sure how bad it will get or what exactly will happen. But they all agree it’s not going to be pretty. But you don’t need me to tell you this. And really if I started quoting numbers and possible futures I’d get sick to my stomach.
But the bit that really makes me ill is this; Humans can’t do anything about it. Why? We’re gridlocked. Funny thing about gathering everyone around a table sometimes, is that you can’t get a consensus. Maybe just one guy at the table is a greedy so and so, but the rules of the game means everyone will suffer. “The needs of the one, outweighing the needs of the many”. We see it everywhere these days. There seems to be nothing we can’t debate. One thing is sure, we can’t get much done either.
The truth is we could handle these and many other issues if we had the will. In a quiet room we can see answers. But we’ve created politicians and then put upon them concerns we couldn’t have foreseen. Money to raise, loyalties, ideologies, mud to sling, financial investment, lobbyists, dogmas, shopping for navy blue suites and red ties, and on and on. The poor politicians can’t see the forest for the trees any longer. And that’s what’s going to get us. You see it’s not about a world view, a party affiliation, a religion, dogma or whatever it is that we like to defend as our own. It’s more that we can’t get through them to deal concretely with bigger issues (or sometimes even minor ones). Being an ideolog can be distracting. We can find ourselves debating the price of dates while the house burns down around us.
Someone I highly regarded once said to me, in a conversation about past civilizations that we can only worry about art on a full stomach. A twist I’m sure of an old adage attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte. His meaning in our context was that many things in life are only important through the lens of personal comfort and safety. The rich have very different concerns than the poor. He suggested that once you take the food away, we’d all be as hyenas fighting over a carcass. Maybe. I’m not sure. But one thing I do know, is that something’s happening to our earth and we as a species did it. And right now those who could do something, are incapable of doing anything. We’re going round in circles when we should be walking in line. If I had my way, I’d be calling for a vote of no confidence and tossing out the whole bloody lot. The sad part is, we’re already on the slope and those kids you slow down for every school day are going to face something they should never have faced.