Anybody else feeling a bit dismayed about the poor showing of the carbon spewing USA over there in Copenhagen? I sputter, sometimes, while listening to the news, with its moments of both inspiration and doom. How can our country so blatantly disregard its responsibilities, blithely neglecting the well being of humanity? An interview on Democracy Now with a 15 year old climate ambassador from the Maldives stopped me cold the other day. “Would you commit murder?” he asked. “On the basis that you know what you’re doing is wrong and you can see that the victim is begging for mercy and for you to stop what you’re doing, yeah, would you commit murder?” He goes on to point out that the excesses of many countries, and the individual inhabitants of those countries, is destroying the homes and lives of people all over the world.
While I wish our leaders would Do the Right Thing, that doesn’t stop me from choosing to find my way to that place personally. Wendell Berry writes that we have a moral imperative to acknowledge what he calls the crisis of character that is at the root of climate change. “Once our personal connection to what is wrong becomes clear,” he says, “then we have to choose: we can go on as before, recognizing our dishonesty and living with it the best we can, or we can begin the effort to change the way we think and live.”
For each of us, that effort will be unique. What matters is that we begin it, in both small and large ways. That we take every conceivable step towards a life in which we cease choosing our own comfort and ease over the basic survival of our fellow man. For us, this means choosing simplicity in all of its blessed abundance. It means returning to the basics of homemade food, used clothes and housewares, local foods, and reducing our use of energy and oil in every way we can. In many ways this is the beginning of a new life for us, one that is both transformative and restorative. As citizens, re-orienting our daily lives to such a compass will help steer our nation and world into a sustainable future.
::Check out the Hopenahgen website for a bit of the silver lining of the climate talks, that is, the millions of people from every corner of the globe sharing their hope and transforming it into collective action.