Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dr. Suzuki

We spent last evening attending the Legacy lecture of Dr. David Suzuki. It was difficult to know how to feel as we left his book signing and wandered through the damp autumn night, through the UofA grounds (one of my favourite places in Edmonton). David Suzuki has been someone I have watched and admired pretty much throughout my life. His essays, books, articles, television and radio appearances have helped to shape and focus my thoughts and directed the path of my own research and studies. I've used his book, "From Naked Ape to Super Species" as a reference in my own teachings and lectures for years and told people who were interested in learning about Earth spirituality to turn not to warmed-over New Age silliness but to teachers such as Suzuki as guides to what a Guardian of the Earth should practice. Suzuki was there before Gore and Decaprio and the many voices we have now speaking out in the darkness to try to rally people before it is too late.
David Suzuki is a dynamic speaker. He never stops moving. His face is animated, his body language is graceful, like a dancer trying to get a point across. This is pretty good for a man in his mid seventies. His words were spoken as though he had mined my brain beforehand and I felt that I was not quite so alone, which I feel very much these days (Twyla being an exception). One of the things he said was that he had believed over time that reason and science and fact was enough to convince people that we are running out of time. His frustration was in earnest that fact and truth and science are not enough. People are complacent and they will grasp onto anything, even if it is utterly false, just so they won't have to get up and do anything. He left religion out of his lecture and I can certainly understand why. But I believe that religion is fundamentally at the core of what is happening. Or, putting it more succinctly, religious fundamentalism.
Dr. Suzuki spoke about his life and his fond memories of his boyhood, fishing with his father in rivers that, now, we would not dare to fish from because they are either poisoned or there simply are no fish. He spoke of his father and the fond memories they shared before his father passed away and how all of those memories were about times shared with family and friends and loved ones. He spoke of how none of those memories involved how much stuff they had accumulated over a lifetime. Dr. Suzuki spoke of how, upon reaching the age of seventy, he had realized that he was reaching the end of his life (hopefully not anytime soon because we so desperately need him now) and how he wanted to spread the message of his legacy. Though he spoke of being an elder, during his lecture, listening to his youngish sounding voice and watching his passionate gestures, you would never know it. But his hands, upon closer inspection, are bent with arthritis, making me wince at the thought of how many books he would be required to sign at the conclusion of his lecture. And his fatigue was clear during the book signing as people were ushered quite efficiently and politely through, though he had a quick smile for everyone. I'm sure that some people were annoyed at what they perceived as the abruptness of his helpers, for each wanted to share stories and exchange ideas. They don't know how exhausting it is to speak for a couple of hours and then have hours of work to do beyond that. There simply isn't time to have a meaningful chat with a few hundred individuals.
I bought Twyla, who adores Dr. Suzuki, the Legacy book (something I couldn't really afford but I wanted her to take this away with her and really remember it) and he signed it "To Twyla: For your legacy."
And that was what it was really all about. His words spoke of how we do not have the right to pilfer the future of our children and grandchildren all on our endless quest for stuff. We do not have the right to let religious maniacs, who not only expect, but desperately desire the world to end, to continue to rape the Earth and steal Her resources because they think they will be dragged up to heaven in some bizarre rapture and Earth will be destroyed anyway.
David Suzuki is not loved by governments, at least not his own or the one south of the border. He is not loved by corporation whose bottom line is growth. Dr. Suzuki waxed perhaps the most eloquent when he spoke of this non-sensical mind set, where the economy is always the bottom line. The economy is not the bottom line because without the Earth and her abundant, clean resources in tact, we will die. And what good will an economy be then?
When one man mentioned that the government is the enemy, Dr. Suzuki pointed out that the enemy are those who refuse to go out and vote. This is a sentiment I have espoused many times over, imploring people of sense and sanity to get out and vote for a government that will be at least marginally better. The claims that there is no one worth voting for is bulltwaddle. If you do not get out there and use the democratic gift of having a vote, you will lose it. Because that is where corruption starts to creep in. When people of good heart and conscience withhold their voice, then those with dark motives and hate filled hearts slither in and steal that voice of reason. People are often heard to say that here in Canada the Liberals and the Conservatives are equally corrupt, with parties that are scandal-filled. Let me remind you that you can vote green or socialist or independent. All I know is that when push came to shove, the Liberal government stood up to the American war machine and did not drag us into a war of lies that would have seen perhaps thousands of our own soldiers dead, maimed and ruined and our own treasury bankrupt ten times over. There was a spine that stood straight for Canadians and said, against much anger and retribution from our southern neighbours, that "as a matter of fact, we do require proof of your claims before we help you to invade a sovereign country without provocation and kill a few hundred thousand civilians and ruin a country". We can be proud that we had no hand in that at least. Stephen Harper would have had it different, I assure you.
We have now allowed a government that cares nothing for the environment to infest our halls of rule and law. We have never had a more morally corrupt and cynical group of fanatics in Ottawa. Stephen Harper and his hand-picked cadre of lackies are little more than petty criminals involved in wholesale theft of our children's future and their right to clean air, water and land. The government of Canada now allows so much corporate interference that those who have the courage to speak out and stand up for the safety and health of Canadian citizens are fired outright. We now live with policy that, instead of protecting our children from poisons in our food, in the air, in the water, says that a certain amount of collateral damage, in the form of Canadian lives, is okay. Not that it is unacceptable for one life to be affected when it didn't have to be, but that the bottom line is that a certain number of deaths and illnesses are expected and acceptable as long as the economy grows.
As Dr. Suzuki put it, this is madness. Sheer and utter madness. We cannot continue to "grow". There is nothing else that can be pulled from the Earth to satisfy our insatiable, gluttonous appetite for stuff. We cannot sustain the lifestyle that we in rich countries have adopted. We must draw the line and say no. We cannot keep buying, buying, buying exponentially because we are digging our own graves and what is unforgivable, what is beyond unconscionable is that we are digging the graves of those who will come after us, knowingly and without a shrug or thought.
When you buy something new, do you ever ask yourself where the components of that thing come from? Few do yet all should. It comes from resources that were taken from Earth. If you search far enough back, everything on this planet is organic or natural. Everything we have came at some point out of Earth and what She produced in her body. Stuff doesn't just magically appear out of nowhere. It is not delivered from outer-space. We take everything and replace it with poison and hate and disdain and contempt.
At the end of the lecture, as we were leaving, a woman stopped me. She had been talking to a young man and asked him what he thought we could do to save ourselves. He had shrugged and said that he thought we were doomed.
She seemed very upset by this and asked me what we could do. I said to her that I thought the young man was likely correct. That probably the best we could do is do the best you can and try to survive what is coming...what is here.
There is no happy chapter to this book. That is what James Lovelock called it in his last book. He talked about how, for years, all of these environmental warning books had a "happy chapter" at the end, where all of these dire warnings and evidence are laid out but at the end, there are solutions and a "reason for hope". There isn't much of that left right now. Religious fanatics hellbent on Armageddon and Corporate demons (sometimes one and the same) are orchestrating our destruction even as I write. And they placate us with stuff and entertain us with hedonism even as they kill us. There was an episode of 'Supernatural' ( Yes...I love Sam and Dean too) a while back that reminds me of this. It is about a Djin that captures victims and puts them into a sort of sleep...a controlled state of hypnosis where they get to experience wonderful things, living out what they think is their wish. They are happy and entertained. The problem is that in reality, their bodies are held captive by this monster, bound and unaware that he is slowly draining them of their blood, of their life. They don't even realize it is happening. And by the time they do realize that something is wrong, it is too late. They are already crossing over.
That is where most people are today. Even the people who sat in the audience with us, who were clearly moved and touched. I wonder how many of them will actually act on what is happening. Or will they quickly sink back into their dream state. Will they just go shopping and buy some nice things to decorate their fantasy and make their dream world more pleasant. Because that is the easier thing to do. To just say, things seem okay. We still have time. Will they be placated by the lies that are told to make them feel safe. Lies about Climate Change (it's a natural process), lies about the recovery of the economy (the answer is exponential growth) and lies about our health (the government is watching out for you).
The woman asked, and there was real fear in her eyes...isn't there anything we can do!?!
I said to her:

I'm just sayin'...Thanks Dr. Suzuki. For trying.

What's on the menu: Noodle soup.
Listening to:Sherlock Holmes soundtrack
Goals: Cleaning honey ruzza-frazzin stickyness everywhere ~grrrr~
Viewing: X Files