'A' is for Action

"A seed hidden in the heart of an apple
is an orchard invisible."

- Welsh proverb

by Robert Nanninga
here is a battle out there folks, a war of ideology being waged on every front. Last week, Canada reinstated the slaughter of seals. The restrictions this time are that the clubbing of defenseless marine mammals is not allowed; hunters must be content with just shooting them. Japan is preparing to resume whaling, and the Contract for America, marshaled by Newt ("We don't need no stinking wetlands") Gingrich, is declaring open season on the environment. War is hell.
Politicians constantly promise to cut taxes, knowing full well that sooner or later someone is going to have to pay the piper. The new twist is to abolish environmental regulations. It works like this: in the past we decided that it was smart to protect endangered species, so the government says habitat must be preserved. Now developers and their puppet politicians agree this is not cost-effective and cry economic hardship. They claim that undeveloped land cuts into their profit margin. Local governments cry foul when asked to enforce such laws, due to budget constraints, and refuse to support these "unfunded mandates."
No one wants to pay for the effects of uncontrolled growth, but they are more than willing to profit from it. This shouldn't be news to the people in Congress, but, if you don't pay the maid, she won't clean house. Newt and his rampaging Republicans have the foolish notion that as soon as the house gets too messy to deal with they can just pack up and move. Sorry guys, but that only works for so long.
Now I'm sure everybody reading this article (and yes, that is an obvious distinction) believes they are doing their part to protect the environment. I question if that is enough. To continue the war analogy, in World War II ("the last good war), there was what was referred to as the "homefront effort." This is where gasoline, sugar, coffee, tires and leather shoes were rationed. All types of metal were salvaged and recycled for the war effort, and even nylon stockings did their part to keep the world free. Helpful? Yes. But if memory serves me right, it took a lot of human suffering before the aggressors threw in the towel.
These days, people are recycling, carpooling, switching to vegetarian diets and planting trees in their backyards. Those who can afford it donate to the environmental charity that touches them the most. Others pick up trash along the nearest beach once a year. All in the name of a healthy planet. I'm sorry, but this seems like we are trying to bail out the Titanic with a champagne glass. The aggressors this time are multinational corporations who have decided that they do indeed own the whole damn world.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Earth Day. April 22nd is the day when people around the world congratulate themselves for still being here. However, as a concerned populace we need to do more than throw a successful party once a year. Llama rides and drumming circles are nice, but they are not enough to ensure clean water. The phrase "Earth Day every day" must move beyond a feel-good slogan and become a way of being.
Instead of recycling, how about making a commitment to the environment by not buying things that need to be recycled in the first place. Take glass bottles, for example. Do you really need to be a part of the Pepsi Generation? If you actually require carbonated sugar water for your survival, I'm sure you can find a way to make it at home that doesn't require aluminum for packaging, fossil fuels for transport and an entire forest for marketing and advertising. With this kind of thinking you will begin to see bottled spaghetti sauce as an assault on the environment. Growing your own tomatoes is easy, and healthier than whatever they put in "Old World Style Ragu." I'm sure Mama Leone fed her family without the benefit of calcium chloride.
Small choices such as these are a step in the right direction. Environment action takes many forms. When you decide to boycott a product because of excessive packaging, you need to write the company who produces it and let them know what you are doing and why. I know you can't grow your own wheat, but you can buy organically grown flour, in bulk, from your local health food market. Most grain products are available without packaging, including pasta and rice.
Other action that will make a big difference is becoming involved in municipal government. I recently went through the committee appointment process for the City of Encinitas. I was the lone voice in a wilderness of development interests. Architects, engineers, planners and realtors all wanting to help shape future growth. One person with an opposing view point is easy to dismiss; 40 or 400 are not.
Voting is also important. If you have yet to find out about the Green Party, now is the time. Has anybody noticed that Republicans and Democrats have been in power so long that America has become a one-party system? It's like choosing between Coke or Pepsi. The Green Party offers an alternative to the tax-and-spend mentality of an industrialized establishment that sees trees only in terms of board feet.
Volunteering is yet another way of acting on behalf of the environment. San Diego Earth Day is always in need of people and their special talents. I'm sure I Love a Clean San Diego would love to have enough volunteers to clean San Diego beaches on a weekly basis. People with green thumbs would be appreciated at local schools, and I know the students would benefit from lessons on organic gardening.
April 22nd should always be a day set aside for us to express and celebrate our commitment to the Planet that supports our very existence. But we must transform this day of well-meaning to a lifetime of responsibility and action. In the words of deep ecologist Lone Wolf Circles:
"Let those who dare be the seeds! Seeds of consciousness, of love, of change. A time to come together and line their nests with the physical and spiritual aids to survival. Time to ignore no lessons, ignore no enemy, ignore no ally. Let those who dare be the seeds!"

Robert Nanninga is an independent video producer, actor, vegan and active member of the Green and environmental community.