Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Sermon

. . .taking a deep breath, and attempting to avoid a screaming fit.

Within any sensible moral or ethical system there is a hierarchy of importance: which is to say that in order to be able to claim "goodness"--assuming one can't be "perfect"--one is compelled to right the biggest most important wrongs first and move down the line to the trivial. For example, supposing some screwball murdering pedophile wanted to reform and become a good person, it would be important that the first step would be to remedy one's biggest crime--ie, quit killing kids. If our murdering pedophile decided rather that her first step towards righteousness be to work on clearing up her profanity, even if those efforts were successful, any sensible ethical system would declare those efforts more or less pointless--even inherently bad--as all the efforts achieve, really, is simply perpetrate one's major crimes through self-serving evasion.

We live in a world where 3/4 of the worlds population lives on less than 2 dollars a day, and that fully 1/3 of humanity dies of malnutrition and cruddy water. This is a fact. I believe that this issue will only get worse, as we face climate change and resource depletion, and a perpetual trend towards wealth disparity--we may quibble about those issues, barely. Still the FACT remains that the conditions of life of the vast masses of humanity is miserable in the extreme, and to ignore this, and to evade the notion that one might be culpable in some degree for this condition, to my mind is criminally inhumane.

So then, where the hell do we get the right, we fat and lazy privileged folk, getting all worked up about GMO's, invasive species(though useful and edible), and other bourgeois fetish issues, etc.,--in light of the reality that faces the masses of mankind?

That here in Hawaii we would arbitrarily ban all GMO's, technologies that have the potential to feed the starving--because we somehow have the notion, completely unsupported by any evidence, and GMO's are all bad and unhealthy. I'm certain that one out of 3 people in this world, if you gave them a glow in the dark, semi-poisonous lab grown utterly synthetic blob would eat it eagerly and thank you for it. GMO's? If you could show me one case where you could factually document that any GMO's kills more people than organic peanut butter. . .well, then we have a place to start. Otherwise this is kneejerk fopist ethics.

That here in Hawaii we would get completely bent out of shape about invasive species, unquestionably the most powerful and viable plants on this island, that in many ways act as Gaian scar tissue healing the damage of the sugarcane fields, clear cuts, road cuts, cattle damage and the rest--what would is island look like if these plants were never introduced? I'm in no way arguing for the further introduction of such things--but am simply calling attention to the fact that we ecological progressives have vastly more important things for us to spend our time worrying about. There is a fair chance, that if moderate climate change forecasts are accurate, that the invasive plants will be the ONLY plants on this island that are viable and adaptive enough to survive the next 500 years.

I expect I need to lay off the coffee, but am not done yet.

The difficulties that face us as a world are so massive, and so dire, and the human cost, and the cost to life in general, is going to be so vast--that anybody not pulling to remedy those basic issues is pulling in the opposite direction. To remedy these basic issues is going to require basic sacrifices--large sacrifices--in our current standard of living. Outside of a few radicals, I see next to no meaningful efforts towards constructive change. In fact, I see an entire industry being created, as evil and insincere as any ever created, that generates "products" and "activities" marketed to mostly well meaning informed people, that are designed wholly to satisfy the urges of "good" people to "do something" but actually accomplish nothing whatsoever, and demand no personal sacrifice. As if compact fluorescent bulbs are going to feed anyone. . .

Something, I hope, to think about. Are some of our busy efforts well meaning? Misguided? Insincerely self-indulgent? I think it's important we ask these questions of ourselves, and for many, that in a very sophomoric manner fancy themselves as the vanguard of "change"--I think the answers will be uncomfortable.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Jay! It's good to read your jeremiads and diatribes here. Like you say - writing an essay is becoming a lost art - especially anything logically consistent concerning ethics or morality.