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At National Union of Friendly Americans (NUFA) world headquarters at Camp Shack, far from the encroachment of roads and humanity, a fresh new day is born after another howling spring blizzard. White-throated sparrows and black-capped chickadees flutter and talk in the spruces, downy and hairy woodpeckers tap and pry for bugs, an eagle soars directly above after huddling into the wind for a day, a spring crow right on its tail.
The world breathes again, the trees shrug off the latest snow, drop by drop.
All creatures skitter and stumble, swim and drift across the face and in the seas of this living planet, inexplicably woven together more than we can ever understand. Tethered to the sun yet born of the molten core, our lives flow outward in a looping circle of life and then death and then life again and death, circling forever until the distant day when the light goes out in the earth’s belly deep below our feet or the sun’s elements fuse and grow wider than our own small orbit.
We have plenty of time to ponder both options, apparently, options beyond our control, options beyond our comprehension.
NUFA scientists and philosophers agree on one point.
There are options we can consider.
Only humans can decide how friendly life on this planet can be. In our brief time at the top of the food chain, we haven’t been very friendly to the planet or ourselves and fellow creatures, always taking away far, far more than we ever intend to give.
“It must be something in our brains, the way we’re made,” the late Chef Leinenkugel told us during a recent cocktail hour, the little “Time for Another Round” bell ringing regularly. “We inadvertently remove more than our share of nearly everything. Nowadays we know full well that we screw things up in the natural world at every step, but we still manage to convince ourselves that we’ll be better about such things tomorrow. My thought is that with our big brains, if we haven’t figured it out in the past 50,000 years, why would we change course now even if we see the walls crumbling around us?”
The bell rang again. Time for another round.
Ever the optimists, NUFA scientists and philosophers at the bar vowed to set forth—whiskey, rum, and reason in hand—to alert the populace to the crisis of our own making. The tipping points of population, pollution, poverty, myopia, and greed have gained the upper hand, have become larger than the sum of all individual parts. The odd economic system of more, more, ever more is now moving humanity and all of life on the planet forward without asking for opinions. What we have inadvertently created is the belief that all facets of economic growth, even those that poison the planet, are good for us, when it is bad for us in the long run. We have been domesticated like cattle to the idea of needing more, ever more, and simply move from dwindling pasture to pasture, crowding out the living as we go, growing larger with less room all the time, shoved along mindlessly toward the next thing that will improve our lives before we know what hits us.
It is a decidedly poor choice, but we apparently took up that choice long ago.
We keep moving in the same dwindling direction yet convince ourselves that greener pastures lie ahead.
Soon we’ll need several planets to sustain our grazing as the rest of the world falls prey to our way of life, our notion of economic gain, the worship of money, the praying at the altar of convenience.
The bell rings again. Time for another round.
Later in the meeting, NUFA members decided to gain the upper hand. We vowed to drink whiskey distilled only from heirloom maize, not genetically modified hybrid corn. We vowed to scatter manure on the dead soils of the factory farm and share our whiskey with the farmer and ask him to change his ways.
As a friendly mob, we will visit the headquarters of all the fossil fuel and extractive industries and pee on their bushes and sculpted front lawns and make fun of their “green” websites that promote healthy living through chemicals. We will invite the shareholder boards and company executives to share our pure whiskey with us, find their souls and lead the way toward a new future that must learn to live within its means, those simple words our parents and grandparents should’ve taught us.
Live within your means.
As a species, we aren’t.
We are killing off our bees, for crying out loud, the little bees that pollinate the food that feeds us. The evidence is mounting that compounds in the neonicotinoid family of pesticides are the culprit. For decades we have killed off the web of life of friendly bugs in trade for the wiping out of unfriendly bugs, a solution that will end up killing off everything that moves. It has no end. Killing goes on forever in that laboratory crime drama methodology.
The website for Croplife America, the trade association that represents major manufacturers of crop protection and pest control products, responds to the loss of bees by saying “grow more flowers.”
NUFA economists will explain to the populace that the growth models we have adopted over the centuries have come to an end if we want to pass a clean world off to the coming generations. Exponential economic growth is no longer possible in a world of dwindling resources and dwindling life forms. We can no longer manage our living space by ignoring the simple fact that the keys of the bus have been handed over to a soulless economic system, to greed and myopia. We can’t allow the rest of the human race to take a seat on that wayward bus and simply keep fingers crossed and blindly hope the ultimate destination is not into the ditch.
Ring the bell for the planet.
Time for another round.