22 January 2010

Where are we going, and why am I in a handbasket? — A Guest Post

I love that saying on a bumper sticker! A "virtual friend," Norma Lundberg, wrote the other day to say that her father used to use that expression ("We're all going to hell in a handbasket"), and would then add, "One of these days, people will get off their hind legs and then we'll see." (We're not off our hind legs yet, unfortunately.)

Today, I would like to hand over this space to my online friend, Norma, who is wise and artistic and eloquent: a Renaissance Woman, storyteller, quilter, polyglot, lover of the arts and culture and a mentor in considering how these traditions can help us do the right thing today for future generations — if we choose to.

Cassandra ... had the power to predict the future, and none of us has that. Climate change science people are getting very good at predicting trends derived from all the data accumulating, but you don't have to be a scientist to have lived long enough to note some significant changes over time that indicate sufficient deterioration leading to high risk of collapse. Just think: it was only in the past year that Toronto city council [in Ontario, Canada] decreed that it would now not be illegal to hang clothes to dry in one's backyard.


In fact, you don't have to be a futurologist at all to see, from our privileged and only partly informed position in the well-to-do northern countries, that the disaster has ALREADY struck, is already ongoing, in the poorer countries to the south after decades, centuries of ongoing pillaging, plundering, and rapacious greed from the north, demolishing cultures, social systems, natural resources, local governments and so much more, leaving in their wake drought, disease, famine, warfare, and dictatorships practising fear and torture. Too many years of treating the planet and all its creatures as disposable.


[...]


You wrote that "it's good to have resources for starting to learn what this new world could look like," [but people] don't listen to the music, look at the work by people making art engaged with the land and the weather, don't read poetry, don't read much of anything it seems, don't read philosophy, don't speak or read other languages, don't gather for coffee and actually TALK about politics....


[...]


Yes, call people stupid and incapable and feed them sanctioned pablum, don't for whatever god's sake be passionate, partisan, informed.... Listen to Shostakovich, read about his work, his times, the history, and see if you're not a little bit stirred by the music. It doesn't need subtitles. It just needs to be listened to, and poetry needs to be read, and art has to be looked at. It's all part of having eyes, ears, senses, and of finding out what we think of what we see, hear, sense. We don't have to be told what to like, but we do have to think, and experience, and wonder, and question. Isn't that what education is about? Isn't that what being part of the world means?

My appreciation, Norma. Anything earnest and honest is a joy to read these days (given the "pablum" we're mostly fed). I should point out that Norma's heartfelt "rant" was in response to my rant in response to an educational listserve's discussion of the role of education in transforming the world in order to safeguard the future for our students.


*****

Many thanks to artist Camille Rose Garcia and Jonathan Levine Gallery for the image, Going to Hell in a Handbasket, a 2005 painting in acrylic and glitter on panel. I'm not an artist, nor am I an art critic, but this painting speaks to me of the innocence of those whose future we will turn into hell if we don't change course.


2 comments:

  1. There's a movement to radically change California government, by getting rid of career politicians and chopping their salaries in half. A group known as Citizens for California Reform wants to make the California legislature a part time time job, just like it was until 1966.

    www.onlineuniversalwork.com

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  2. Hi KS,
    Thanks for that info. I've often thought that if politicians were only allowed one term (perhaps of four to five years), then we'd never have the problem of politics becoming solely about getting re-elected, instead of being about doing what's best for constituents. Not sure I agree with all of the California group's intentions, but it certainly would be good to bring old-fashioned care and concern back to the political scene.

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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?