Sunday, August 26, 2012


A gift in honour of our fiftieth . . .Thank you, Zachariases

Another great tomato year!

What much boils down to is this: do we as a global village think long term, or short? 
            CBC's The National showed a computer-generated animation last night that condensed the time required for matter to coalesce into present galaxies after the Big Bang; 13,750,000,000 earth-years of cosmic activity in a one-minute video animation.
            I'm not talking about that kind of long term.
            A year ago, Jack Layton died and the country mourned the passing of a man who was to become a legend. In a matter of mere weeks this robust, energetic man was overtaken and defeated by a particularly aggressive cancer.
            I'm not talking about that kind of short term.
            My point is modest in comparison to these two examples: can we visualize the results of today's choices for our descendants 100, 300 or 500 years from now? And if we can, can we also find the courage and energy to act decisively in the interest of a future beyond our own? 150 years ago, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote an essay called “Compensation” in which he pointed out—speculatively—that everything we do has a compensatory opposite. This is not news: the pleasure of smoking tobacco is paid for in diminished health; the ability to drive here and there in a car is paid for in pollution, etc.  
            One of the tragedies of our day is the degree to which the major exploiters of nature's largesse are passing the compensations on to others, present and future.
            And another tragedy is the ease with which the public (some of the ones who will pay for the exploitation) are bought off. Stephen Harper's recent tour of the Arctic was primarily in support of the exploitative extraction of wealth; the public was diverted from the obvious compensations this would require with a national park announcement (albeit with a big chunk of the recommended area excluded for future mineral extraction reasons) and—of all things—a government-sponsored push to find the sunken ships of the ill-fated Franklin expedition. Thrown in was that other Canadian shibboleth: sovereignty over the Northwest Passage and the polar seas and islands.
            The Arctic and its people pay an inordinately high compensation for wealth extraction in that fragile environment. We know this, but some of us just don't give a damn. Summarize that with an obscene quote from Kevin O'Leary in a promo for the CBC's “The Lang-O'Leary Exchange:” I'm happy to be a communist if I can make a buck! Reminds me of Paul’s words in I Corinthians 9:22 (NIV): “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some make a buck!”
(Shame on CBC for opting for showmanship instead of objective honesty . . . again!)
            But to end on a less pessimistic note: Wednesday night we got our weekly basket of produce from a small, local market garden. It was a heaping cornucopia of potatoes, tomatoes, celery, beans, cabbage, beets, Kale, carrots, and turnips, all raised “by hand” without the crap that commercial food production is required to add to make it transportable.
            Compensations for our gardener friends’ modest living? A great deal of hard work under a Saskatchewan sky, I guess. But for us, the taste alone is reward enough for the extra washing, preserving, etc. And the ecological footprint for feeding us is small indeed!
            I wonder where Stephen Harper, Brad Wall, Vic Toews, John Baird, etc.—the ones in charge of our economies currently—get their vegetables? Not on King William Island, for certain.

No comments:

Post a Comment