Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Is the border Arizona's primary problem?

Is the border "problem" really the most pressing issue we have to deal with today?

Well, let's see. The planet is heating up, we've run out of the cheap, polluting energy necessary to continue economic growth, our elders are overdosing on prescription drugs at a rate three times higher than all illegal drugs combined, biodiversity is disappearing at a rate high enough to be called the Sixth Great Extinction, our local economies are being sucked dry by the corporate and financial elite who have stolen our democracy, and the activist Supreme Court has made it easier for them to continue doing so--as well as greasing the skids to ensure all these other problems continue unabated.

For the past 100 years we've depended on Mexicans to pick our food, make our beds, build our homes, and now we want to build an apartheid wall and militarize the border in order for us to continue denying our responsibility to fix the mess we've created by scapegoating the oppressed.

Can someone please explain to me the thinking, and I use that term very loosely, behind all this?

The "we" I'm referring to is the Western industrial civilization on steroids that is known as the American way of life. We feel so entitled to this way of life that our political leaders insist that it is "non-negotiable" when trying to formulate even weak and vapid responses to the environmental and social collapse rapidly heading our way due to ecocide, injustice, and inequity.

There is indeed a whole lot of room for improvement. Which is what makes it all so frustrating for me. There is a readily available alternative in relocalization--a rational, practical, affordable process to develop a sustainable future--that could actually serve to improve quality of life for all life. But here in Arizona people have allowed themselves to be distracted over the border issue as if it's the only thing that matters.

I mean, we can't blame the Mexicans for the Colorado River going dry, as it doesn't even make it to Mexico any longer.

The idea that as rational creatures we could use our highly vaunted intelligence to reverse direction as we discover we're going the wrong way is a concept I've been using in my research, writing and community work challenging the growth lobby for about a decade now. I've also found myself recently paraphrasing, on a rather regular basis, a line from Swami Beyondananda (Steve Bhaerman): Maybe it's past time for nature's children to start acting like nature's adults.

Hmm, do ya think?

We (Americans in the generic sense) aren't doing enough to turn the ship of state around--squiggly lightbulbs and hybrid cars not withstanding. The American way of consumer life is still being sold to the developing world as the highest good they could possibly aspire to. This is done for no other good reason but to support and continue economic growth that actually only benefits a very small sector of the global population--to the ultimate detriment of the majority as well as to the planet that supports our lives and economies.

What I'm discovering in my campaign for political office is that quite a few people don't want to think about the actual issues and what could be done about them. They just want to slap a band-aid on a few symptoms (what I call the wounds of empire) and get on with their life. They want things to return to normal and don't want to think about the fact that normal is what got us to this point.

For instance, the current status quo fantasy is that we're not really running out of water in the Southwest desert. It is taken as a given that some technology will come along to allow us to "invent" new water supplies (this used to be referred to as alchemy). The only thing we need to do is secure the border and everything will be just fine. Then we can go back to paving over the desert so the tourists who come to enjoy the desert will be able to quickly and more easily get from one place where the desert used to be to another place where the desert used to be.

The tourists just better hope their cars don't overheat. And that enough Americans--75% of whom, according to the Pentagon, are too overweight and/or out of shape to qualify for military service--will be available and willing to do all that paving for a minimum wage with no benefits for an out-of-state contractor enticed here with tax exemptions and waivers of development impact fees.

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