Western Lessons

I have crossed the American West, particularly Montana, several times in the last two years. The first time was by car, via Interstates 90 and 84, when some friends and I were traveling from Seattle to Friends General Conference (FGC). After that, I started visiting my beloved, Adrian, in Chicago. The trips, and what I’ve learned subsequently, have taught me vital lessons about what Friends—and indeed, all humans—are now called to do.

The friends I traveled with to FGC are dedicated environmentalists. One is the founder of the Seattle chapter of 350.org, and the other is her daughter, who planned and led a protest against climate change at the Federal Building in downtown Seattle before she left for college this fall. As we crossed the western plains we saw hundreds of windmills, generating electricity with no carbon required, and we were cheered to see them. But as we drove we reflected on the emissions we were pumping out, for even though we were driving a Prius, we were still burning oil. Continue reading

A Conservative Economy

In the last entry I examined the “shock doctrine,” in Naomi Klein’s phrase, as a method of perhaps explaining some recent actions and behaviors by people in power. My conclusion was that shock doctrine/disaster capitalism is an attempt at what I call “neoliberal sustainability”: their methods often unleash disaster on nations following their principles, and they then profit from the resulting chaos, be it social, economic, or ecological. I pointed out that their raw materials — the environment, their workers, or both — would eventually lash back against them. Their version of sustainability really isn’t, because while they can dance for a long time, the planet is an island, presently inescapable.

What is our alternative? Continue reading