Thursday, February 25, 2010

Days #55 and #56: Recovery, the Fourth "R"...

Rain yesterday. A short dog walk.

Today: Sun!! For a short while, until the next storm blows in to dump a few more inches of rain on us. Angel (the dog) and I took a long walk this morning. We were happy to greet about a dozen Steller jays. Oh how wonderful to see the sun even for a brief bit of time!

I got an invitation to be a "top blogger" at Healthblogger in the "Green Living" category. From reading through their invitation, they actually seem to read the blogs and to be a bit more choosy with their invitations.

So I accepted their offer--scam artist that I am.

A scam Artist? Well, I'm not the epitome of health. I don't eat enough vegetables; tend to be mostly an opportunivore in my diet regimen. I hike, walk and ride bike more to be outside than to accomplish any health goals.

As for Green Living? Living in a rural area, we tend to be car dependent. I drive 165 miles to work (but only twice a month). True, we do live in a partially constructed house made of mud, straw and recycled materials. But we drive way too much.

Green Living. What does that mean? What would Thoreau have to say about this nebulous movement? Ed Abbey? Companies green wash. Obama is said to have a green agenda. I've met Socialist Greens. I've met Libertarian Greens. I've met New Agey Greens. Pagan Greens. Most of the time, being Green is reduced to just being an expression of an alternative consumerism.

Here is an alternative vision for being Green: Having Devotion to the Planet and all life on the Planet. This devotion then informs us in all that we do. We love where and who we are. And we give space to other beings to be who they are and freedom to live out their lives. We make ourselves smaller so that the non-human entities can be larger.

Being Green ultimately is about Recovery. I'm a Recovery Green. The fourth "R" in the reduce, reuse, recycle chain of being.

Recovery means ending the oppression of a Human Centered Worldview.

Recovery might mean that we tear out half of the dams in California so that 50% of the rivers return to being free flowing (hence giving the salmon a chance to recover). Recovery might mean limiting our housing to 300 square feet per person. Recovery might mean changing jobs. Recovery might mean giving money to the Nature Conservancy. Recovery might mean working less; earning less; living more. Recovery might mean sitting in a tree or tearing down a fence. Tactics might be different, but Recovery for the planet is the goal.

That is Green Living to me.


Woodswalker said...

Congratulations, "top blogger"! And thanks for advocating for all things green.

Ian Woofenden said...

Hey Allan,

I'm having a conflict between:
"give space to other beings to be who they are and freedom to live out their lives" and most of the rest of what you said here, which is centered on human ideas of what should be done to/for the planet, much of which may not give space to other human beings.

I'm definitely not in favor of your (or anyone else's) idea of what the planet needs over and above someone else's view, except for in your own life.

I don't believe there is any "green" value that is worth attaining through force.

Blog on!


Anonymous said...

I didn't see anything about "force" in Allan's ideas. I understood his concepts as envisioning an idealistic world where everyone miraculously comes to their senses and does what is right for the planet and its beings' survival--as a voluntary effort.

From my perspective, if the salmon (or other creatures in our food chain) perish, humans will certainly follow sooner or later. So it's not that unrealistic that people might put aside their greed and ambition for money and "freedom" to live how they wish-- regardless of what it does to others--so that collectively we can avoid almost certain extinction.

Thanks, Allan, for your perspective on Green Living.


lph said...


First, congrats on the Top Health Blogger award (remember that red wine is healthy). That is pretty cool. Imagine, people read your stuff!

Second Ian's response is quite provocative. In a perfect world force is non-existent. People (societies) do what is good for themselves and the planet simply because they understand the big picture: that we are all in this together. Boy do I wish I could believe that. But isn't all politics about force? And don't those with the most money apply the most force?

Over the course of the last 30 years I have watched our political process work to reward individualism and undermine our sense of community (all things mine are good--all things ours are bad). We are forced to hear how the private sector can solve all the problems if we just leave them alone. Meanwhile private enterprise clear cuts forests, pollutes ground water, and lobbies with exorbitant amounts of money protecting a way of life that is harmful to our planet. Private enterprise wants to police themselves and don't want to be forced to abide by rules--many of which are meant to protect "the common good." But the only common good many of these laws work to protect are those of the wealthy and the powerful. Who will speak for me? Who will be the force behind my voice?

Is global warning real and if so, are humans causing it? Who cares! I instead choose to be a pragmatist. If we use our human ingenuity we can create automobiles that get 100 mpg; we can put solar panels on the tops of nearly every home and business in America; we can develop creative solutions to our oil addiction by providing tax breaks to the businesses that are actually looking to the future, and to a better "common good," not those that are forcing us down a dead end road. I don't need to argue whether or not global warning is caused by humans, but I will argue that oil is not our economic future, and that we should no longer allow oil companies to force their archaic economic agenda upon us.

Force is what formed the United States of America; force is what finally ended slavery; force was an important piston in the civil rights movement.

Not sure "Green Living" is going to occur without a little bit of force.

Great post!


OmShanti said...

yay! i totally agree, who gave us as humans the idea that we are so important and that this whole earth and universe are here just to fulfill our selfish desires, no matter how destructive those desires may be? rock on Allan!

Allan Stellar said...

Wow... I get kind of nervous when people start agreeing with me. :)

Thanks to all of you for your thoughtful replies. How enjoyable it is to get a response!

As for Ian, he reminds me of Thoreau when the Transcendental Loner wrote: "Government works best that governs least". Or something to that effect.

Of course, Ian is the Greenest of all of us who have replied. The guy has run on renewable energy for decades. He leads the fight for renewable energy..and his opinions are to respected.

I can think of two times in the last week when I have used force. One when I had a code blue on the unit and we forced oxygen and an Ambu bag to keep a young man from meeting his Maker (we did!).

I also used force when I put a person who was "a danger to others" on a legal hold, detaining him against his will. The State of California lets me do that as a Psychiatric RN.

Perhaps that metaphor, of the use of force to save a life and to save the lives of others, is appropriate when we think of our political activities to save the planet? Sometimes we need to intervene in order to save a species (or even planet) that is in danger of becoming a corpse.

As I write this Mike Roselle sits in a jail in West Virginia. Direct action against mountain top removal.

Mike's direct action did much to save the tropical forests we just visited in Costa Rica. I reference the Burger King boycott that led to Roselle actually meeting with Oscar Arias in the late 80's; from that meeting Costa Rica chose to save tropical forests, establish more parks and create ecotourism which now is the leading sector of their economy.

I agree with Larry that Force can be helpful sometimes. :)


Anonymous said...

Hello Allan
I agree that force is sometimes necessary when dealing with unreasonable people, of which the two cases you cite from work qualify.

However, the green movement has largely been grassroots. It has started from the ground up, and actions and responses have been based on demand from the bottom up, not as a result of the desires of those who are used to operating in a top-down organizational structure. Here's a link that elaborates on my notion:

I think the green movement doesn't necessarily require force. What does seem to require force is ethical behavior.


Ian Woofenden said...

Yeah, I'm with Thoreau.

Lasting change will respect others' choices. Free societies tend to lead to productive change; controlled societies tend to stifle it.

A large portion of our modern society is based on force, likely including the funding for your job, Allan. I think this is a fundamental problem -- the very root of both war and violence against the environment.

Yes, there is justice in the defensive use of force, but there are large gray areas and quicksand pits, at some point, we should strike at the root.

If you see a problem, you have a few choices, as I see it:
1. Whine and do nothing
2. Try to encourage others to change to do something about it.
3. Do something about it yourself
4. Force others to do something about it.

For me, number one is pointless, 2 is OK, 3 is the best, and 4 is immoral, as well as counter productive in the end.



Allan Stellar said...


I enjoyed your link. I was amused by your observations about the chaos within the green movement (and big business' response to it). The article also reminded me of Paul Hawken's book "Blessed Unrest", in which he points out the shere breath of the movement--yet it remains mostly subterranean.

In fact, I'm perplexed by the recent coverage of the Tea Party Convention that was attended by 600 people--when Green Festivals commonly attract 15,000 in multiple cities, yearly, with no mention in any national press.

Thanks for chiming in!


I'm wondering if educated societies might not be the true harbinger of change? Witness the collapse of the Soviet Empire...



Ian Woofenden said...

Hi Allan,

Education is a key piece. But educated people who are willing to be forceful may do more harm than ignorant ones.

I'm not sure the Soviets were dumb -- they just believed in managing others' lives. That doesn't seem too different from some the vision of some really smart greenies, and I think it's similarly destined to fail.

Human progress flourishes with freedom and mutual respect, not control -- that's my view...

Be the change; don't whine about others not changing, or scheme about changing them... ;-)