This is my personal blog. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the congregations I serve.

Monday, May 24, 2010

1980

In his book, Eaarth, Bill McKibben talks ruefully about the disastrous election of 1980. He reminds us that, in the Carter administration, there were signs that the downside of our addiction to fossil fuels was beginning to be taken seriously. We had an opportunity there to change our energy culture when there might still have been time to avoid the catastrophe we have now visited upon God's planet. Remember how Carter deliberately addressed the nation wearing a sweater, to emphasize conservation? Or how he put solar panels on the White House roof? Polls even showed majorities of Americans willing to move in a different direction.

I did not vote for Carter. Perhaps I should have. But his murderous adventures in Central America precluded my supporting him. I voted for Barry Commoner. Few people remember Barry Commoner. I was one of the only Commoner supporters on the Princeton Seminary Campus. Commoner was one of the leading environmental writer/activists of the 1970s. He had a well-articulated plan for weaning us off fossil fuels and moving towards an economy based on renewable energy. If Commoner's plan had been instituted thirty years ago, we would not be in nearly as bad a mess today.

But no. We elected Ronald Reagan. Instead of putting the brakes on our addiction to fossil fuels, Reagan and his people stepped on the gas. On January 20, 1981, God's planet was effectively doomed. That was our last chance to turn this around. In our "can-do," obstreperous, reality-be-damned, American arrogance, we decided that greed and growth were our gods.

Clinton was not much better, it turns out. His mantra, "It's the economy, stupid," did get him elected. But a better mantra would have been "It's the climate, or it's the health of the planet, stupid." Even with Al Gore involved, Clinton was woefully careless about our fossil fuel addiction. I voted for Gore in 2000, of course. But I would have had more enthusiasm about it had he been able to get more done on this when he was that close to power. Still, Gore did win that election. He was just prevented from taking office by the Supreme Court, in what was, in effect, a bloodless coup.

With Bush, of course, the whole thing got placed in the hands of oil and coal executives. And our doom was sealed.

The prophets of the Old Testament are quite unambiguous about what happens to people who choose to follow gods other than YHWH. In following after lies and falsehood, they foster social injustices, which in turn draw down horrendous catastrophes upon themselves. We -- and I mean we as a people, for we elected these people or allowed them to take office without being elected -- have brought this upon ourselves, and upon the whole world, for we are the global leader and example as fossil fuel junkies.

This ongoing apocalypse in the Gulf is only the most recent sour fruit of these disgraceful, self-serving, delusional decisions we have made as a people. The most depressing aspect of this is how, once these things become everyday occurrences, once they are not the latest news, we stop caring as much. Why aren't we boycotting BP? Why haven't these executives been arrested? How about putting stockholders in oil companies on boats to clean this up? ... Oh, right. Because that's ALL of us....

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