Friday, September 21, 2018

Strip trees for strip malls.

by Kay C (writer), Vancouver, February 25, 2007

I was enjoying a cup of java at an outdoor cafe, taking in the chirping birds and the lone shrub that stood as a beacon of hope along the vast expanse of concrete sidewalk.

As I observed the passersby, my mood gradually soured. I tried and tried to see only the good in every person, and not project any burrowing hint of my own negativity. But after watching the fourth person cavalierly flick their cigarette butt to the ground, I became disheartened.

Disheartened not only at the seeming unconsciousness of the "butt flickers" but also at the larger implications of such sleepwalking through life. The planet is not an ashtray, and yet we've been treating it as such for decades. Tossing in our trash and our toxins without consideration and without end. And now we're on the verge of getting burned. Literally.

Yet I believe that deep down, we do care a great deal about this sacred space that we inhabit, and that makes our very existence possible.

But sometimes it is easier to pretend to ourselves that we don't care. That way we don't have to question the SUV's we drive with pride, the limo Hummers that signal crazy success or a special evening, the forests we chop down to build up our cities. Indeed, we don't even have to question why we seem to strip trees for strip malls.

In China, rivers are being polluted at alarming rates in return for "economic progress", rivers in Alberta are being destroyed as the tar sands are being ripped up for oil. The Brazilian rain forest (the literal lungs of the planet) is being mowed down and torched by legal and illegal cutting and burning. British Columbia is being cut to smithereens by gigantic and efficient machines able to eat up vast numbers of trees at mind-numbing speeds. California beaches offer up wave upon wave filled with trash. And even that precious frontier of Alaska is being threatened. And for what, big oil and gas? Soaring stock values?

Economists have missed the point completely because they measure success only in terms of economic growth. Environmental ruin and human exploitation are of little note or concern. It is a short-sided and reckless way of seeing "progress". If an economy can only grow based on the gutting of non-renewable resources, than we are truly doomed by our own insanity.

But I must ask you, each and every reader out there, if this rampant consumerism, shopathon, material-based society is worth it? Is it really really worth it? Do we really need to define ourselves by how much junk, I mean stuff, we accumulate. Does buying more and more things really fill that lonely void we all suffer with? Does our bigger, shinier car really make us somehow better than our neighbor or the man who tends to the garden?

Do you really really really believe that ad???

Of course I want more stuff. But I want more trees (oxygen), more clean air, more clean water, more forest systems intact, more species kept from extinction. I want more of what was free to begin with. That's where the true value has always resided, and I think we'd all feel better if we remembered this and lived by it.

But you know what? I think that deep within you, you've always known this to be true.

How do I know? Because we are intricately connected and share deeply what is in our best interests. It is a collective bond and it runs deep.

About the Writer

Kay C is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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1 comments on Strip trees for strip malls.

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By Kay C on February 25, 2007 at 04:28 pm
Thank you for your comment El G, I truly appreciate it. While I do not confuse consumerism with capitalism, I think that you and I would both agree that capitalism as it is currently practiced would collapse without our relentless need for more and more stuff. We must, after all, feed the machine. A robust and critically thinking democracy is wonderful, as is ambition, innovation and the spirit of enterprise. A corporate dictatorship, on the other hand, is not.
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