Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tumultuous Thursday

Just finished reading a few blogs and I see some of us are thinking along similar lines today.

Last night I completed a book I've been reading sporadicly over the summer : A Short History Of Progress by Ronald Wright. It was part of the CBC Massey Lecture Series a few years ago. But it is still very relevant today.

The whole premise of the book is that we should start learning from our past as humans and the impact we have had/made on this planet. Otherwise, he says, our civilization, as we know it, will end.

What we are doing to the planet environmentally, the things we are ignoring like world hunger, famine and the cause of violence in the world, have all occurred before and had devastating consequences.

'We' didn't listen then. Will we listen and do something now?

September 11th has just come and gone. The lives lost in that attack were devastating to us all and have forever marked our consciousness. But is anything being done to really prevent this and other atrocities from happening again?

Ronald Wright addresses this issue very poignantly towards the end of his book.

"Following the attacks of September 11th, 2001, the world's media and politicians focused understandably on terrorism. Two things have to be said here.
First, terrorism is a small threat compared with hunger, disease, or climate change. Three thousand died in the United States that day; 25,000 die every day in the world from contaminated water alone. Each year, 20 million children are mentally impaired by malnourishment.  Each year, an area of farmland greater than Scotland is lost to erosion and urban sprawl, much of it in Asia."

Now stay with me.....I know this is lengthy! But I hope you get his point.

"Second, terrorism cannot be stopped by addressing symptoms and not the cause. Violence is bred by injustice, poverty, inequality, and other violence. This lesson was learnt very painfully in the first half of the twentieth century, at a cost of some 80 million lives. Of course, a full belly and a fair hearing won't stop a fanatic; but they can greatly reduce the number who become fanatics."

The author doesn't 'pull any punches' in this book. He presents the historical facts from our past and draws a picture of where we are today in comparison to then. Very similar, he feels.

If the 'politicians' of the world are not aware (but I suspect some are) of these facts, then it is up to us to remind them! Time to get our collective heads out of the sand.


  1. We thought we were doing that when we elected Obama. He's trying but of course won't be given the chance to really make a difference since I doubt he'll get re-elected. I saw a good (but sad and hopefully not true) bumpersticker: "SARAH PALIN IN 2012 (the world's going to end anyway)". BTW, should she actually get elected and the world doesn't end, can I come live with you guys? Please?

  2. These are all good points...but I am afraid these things such as hunger have always been apart of the world and even though we now have the means to do better and help these people I don't think it will ever change. The "people" who make the decisions just don't care for the most part. The same for pollution.Some companies are changing because of the trend towards organics because it is finical beneficial to them,people will pay more for organic...but we still have a looong way to go to make a difference in that area is disheartening to say the least.

  3. An ideal dream, I think, that people would actually learn and respond to, the plight of the world. Unless you are the one starving, or losing your children from disease.... nobody looks. If we all, collectively, would try to make a difference, we could. Too many do hide their heads in the sand, cannot financially help, and then there are those that simply do not care and as long as they are well fed etc, it just does not exist to them. History is doomed to repeat itself, over and over, it's just too bad.

    Sorry if this is a downer - delete if you want. It's just the way I see things. Have you ever seen Blood Diamond? I don't mean the movie, I mean the documentary on the History Channel? Is devastating to the soul.

  4. The difference now though, Melodie, at least according to this book, is that it may be too late if it isn't addressed NOW.

    Christine, we'll make room for you and yours! But, I'll warn you, we have a 'humdinger' of a Prime Minister here who will probably get re-elected again. Don't know what's wrong with people. Yes, Obama should stop trying to please everyone and make some very unpopular, but needed, changes.

  5. Haven't seen it Sharon. But will add it to the list of winter viewing. The world can be a very 'down' place but we shouldn't run from that fact.

  6. Deep post today. I have found over the years that some people believe that someone else will take care of 'it'. That their small part won't make a differance when in fact it does.
    Will we ever learn from past mistakes? Sadly we ( humanity) haven't so far.
    Personally I believe that as usual it all boils down to greed and power.
    Unless certain events happen personally, eyes stay shut. Then when it does happen and you have to open your eyes, it's a differant story.
    Sorry, there I go rambling again. Me thinks I need more coffee!

  7. We can't run from that, Jim, not any more. I saw a program this fall that, I think, ABC, put on. It was the story of a girl, born in 2009 and what happened to her, and the world around her, during the course of the 21st century. It was focused on the environment and was punctuated by discussions from prominent environmentalists. The single thing that really jumped out at me was that, if we don't get serious about what we are doing to the Earth by 2015, it will be too late, we won't be able to reverse it. The story ended with her as a very old woman, living in a small and primitive community in what was upstate New York, after the crash of World Civilization.

    Just a story, or prophecy?

    Not surprisingly, the show was not watched by very many people.

    I guess I'm a little pessimistic, also, and think that we are headed towards a new Dark Ages, if there are any of us left.

  8. this sounds like a book I would enjoy.

  9. I think pessimistic and realistic are synonymous today....that's just were we are.
    Cindy, keep ' make a lot of sense!

  10. remember scarlett Jim
    "after all, tomorrow IS another day!"

  11. When the Nazis came for the communists,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a communist.

    When they locked up the social democrats,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a social democrat.

    When they came for the trade unionists,
    I did not speak out;
    I was not a trade unionist.

    When they came for the Jews,
    I remained silent;
    I wasn't a Jew.

    When they came for me,
    there was no one left to speak out.

    Seems to me, that environmentally, we are acting in ignorance, pretending its really not anything significant and ignoring the changes occurring around us 'cos we believe they'll eventually go away and all will be right with the world.

  12. Hello, have just come back from our travels so I haven't been around much. It saddens me the greed and longing for power and wealth in our world, where rich western societies walk with blinkers on, conveniently being 'blind' to others suffering, and to the planet quickly becoming unbalanced and damaged. When will people turn around and take a darn good look! Really thoughful and much need post! Susie xxx

  13. the issues in the world are overwhelming, but i do what i have always done--work on changing myself, and hope that some will follow along. that includes activism. the politicians as a whole won't do anything because they are tied to industry, which is about money and not sustainability. i am fairly certain that we will not change as a society until it is too late, and some will survive, and most won't. i hate that i have to live thinking that the world will end as i know it, but at least i am not a newborn who may not even have a chance to grow up. the upset that this topic causes only makes me appreciate life more, because i don't know how much i will have--ever. even if the world gets rid of environmental issues and hunger, i could get hit by an "eco" bus the next day. i do my part (no car, recycle, low consumerism), and know that, as always, i will deal with and adjust to whatever happens when it happens. that is what we do.


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