It's good to get a kick in the pants now and then. Some friends have been discussing Derrick Jensens's recent article "Taking Shorter Showers Doesn't Cut It: Why Personal Change Does Not Equal Political Change". It's pissing a lot of people off, take a look at the comments.
He addresses the need for EFFECTIVE change in the disasterous course humanity is on: taking shorter showers, bringing our bags to the store, using CFLs etc. doesn't add up to much compared with the gigantic polluting and resource wasting power of globalization. Making more ethical personal choices do not directly create justice:
Would any sane person think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday, or that chopping wood and carrying water would have gotten people out of Tsarist prisons, or that dancing naked around a fire would have helped put in place the Voting Rights Act of 1957 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Then why now, with all the world at stake, do so many people retreat into these entirely personal “solutions”?
Those of us attached to our personal solutions don't like our efforts to be dismissed as "utterly insufficient". I don't think it's either/or. He's right - we can't just stop buying the bad stuff, try to drive less, and turn off lights. We still have to speak up about injustice. I especially like Jensen's point about living as citizens not consumers. Consumers have two basic choices - to consume or not. A citizen has many choices, including voting, lobbying, protesting and even revolting. Want to dump some tea in Boston Harbor? (I hate that the right thinks they own that bit of political theater now).
There are a couple of timely opportunities to act like a citizen at the end of this post.
Speaking of consuming, Derrick Jensen would probably put supporting indie craft artists in the "utterly insufficient" category. But since we haven't gotten to the massive power down, seas rising, police state stage of TEOTWAWKI yet, why not buy some cool crafts made by real artists who need to pay their bills?
We went to The Big Crafty this weekend in Asheville. All handmade and local goodies by mostly young, hip artists. Very crowded. I saw a lot of money and crafts changing hands. I think people have less to spend but they are making the effort to spend it on handmade stuff.
and some great T-shirt designs & comic books by Spagetti Kiss (top of post)
Support healthcare reform that allows individual Americans to choose either a universally available public healthcare option like Medicare or for-profit private insurance. A public option is the only way to guarantee healthcare for all Americans and its inclusion is non-negotiable.
Hundreds of prisoners have been tortured in U.S. custody. The torture policies were devised and developed at the highest levels of the Bush administration -- yet there remains debate on whether or not the government will hold those who authorized torture accountable. Demand that the Justice Department appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate.