"U" is for Ugly

It is said that beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes right to the bone.

by Robert Nanninga
efore I get started on the planned topic, I must address some feedback that I received in response to my article "O is for Over-Population." David Tepool opinionated on my "Misguided assumptions regarding the misconception of over-population." What a mouthful. To help set me straight, Mr. Tepool sent an article, "People aren't the Problem," written by Jacqueline P. Kasun, a pro-life economist from the Respect Life Program. "If all of the people in the world moved to Texas, each person could be given the space available in the typical American home and all the rest of the world would be empty." Yee-hah!
I don't know if this is in fact true. I realize that planet Earth is a pretty big rock, and yes, America's birth rate is dropping. But unless everyone in the developed world changes their consumptive behavior immediately, overpopulation will remain a fact because resources are dwindling. When ecosystems can no longer support the numbers of any given species, that species is considered over-populated. So until everyone in the developed world alters their consumptive behaviors - which isn't going to happen anytime soon - I will continue to advocate population control. We can not wait another hundred years for nations to bring their populations to a sustainable level. The crisis is happening now.
In regards to my figurative slap at the Pope: chill out Dave. John Paul is a big boy and I'm sure he can handle a little criticism. And as for attacking "Jesus Christ himself," I never mentioned Jesus, whose teachings I respect. Nor would I defame a man rumored to have chased the money changers from the temple. And yes, I do understand the doctrines - I just interpret them differently. Thank you, David, for participating in the conversation. I look forward to hearing from you in the future. Now to the Business at hand.
Two weeks ago, my partner and I were having lunch at the Marie Callendars in Horton Plaza. Looking out the hermetically sealed windows, I noticed a woman with truly bizarre hair. While pointing her out, we witnessed the grossest display of littering I had ever seen. One could only assume the orange soda she had purchased from McDonalds did not meet with her approval, because she flung it to the ground as if it were a snake that had just bitten her. We knew it was orange soda because it glowed like a beacon. The outrage is that the woman was twenty feet from a trash can when she had tired of her neon beverage.
So there we sat, four stories up, watching people walk around this discarded cup of orange sugar water. Most people chose to ignore it while it sat in the middle of the sidewalk. (I would recommend ignoring it at the point of purchase - much more cost effective.) After a while, a small child kicked it out of his way and sent it sailing into the bushes. Out of sight, out of mind. The moral of the story is best told in the idiom of Forrest Gump: ugly is as ugly does.
Now, could someone please explain to me why smokers don't consider discarded cigarette butts as litter? At this years EarthFair, the number one complaint of volunteers was having to clean up all the cigarette butts people threw to the ground. Obviously, smokers have come to terms with their own ugliness. My question is, when will they learn that the rest of us don't want to clean up after them? Ugly is as ugly does.
While I am on the subject of the recent EarthFair and ugliness, let me tell you about a run in I had with two of the ugliest women I have ever seen, and believe me this has nothing to do with aesthetics. Picture if you will: a park and 70,000 people enjoying a beautiful, peaceful Sunday afternoon celebrating Earth Day. All of a sudden you are accosted by two screaming women holding up large pictures of an aborted fetus. The women were there protesting the efforts of Planned Parenthood, The Women's Health Center, and an organization called Pro-Choice, all of whom are trying to prevent the birth of unwanted children through education - truly a noble cause.
These women were hard-core hate mongers. Not only did they misrepresent themselves to the EarthFair organizers by claiming to be The Endangered Species League, they resorted to name calling when asked to move on. Screaming that over-population was a lie and that abortion was the American holocaust, a woman wearing an American flag t-shirt called me a queer and pervert when I told them that their behavior was not in keeping with agreements they had made with San Diego Earth Day. I will concede that the pictures of abortions are ugly, but then so were the women who brandished them and the words they used to defend their actions. I don't know how this gets translated into me being a pervert. Ugly is as ugly does.
Lest you think I am anti-child, I would like to announce the birth of my namesake, Andrew Robert Nanninga, who was born on Earth Day, April 22nd 1996. Knowing that his birth was imminent, I brought a tree to the birthing room so that Earth Spirit would be present when he entered the world. As his uncle, I am proud to say he is a happy and healthy baby that was welcomed by two loving parents and an extended family committed to his well-being. Even a non-breeder such as myself can be moved by the sight of a newborn in the arms of his mother. The reason I write this column is so that Andrew will be able to experience a world with blue skies, clean oceans and abundant biodiversity, not a world of mass starvation, disease and despair.
Yesterday, a friend of mine showed me the book Judaism and Vegetarianism by Richard Schwartz. In the chapter "Judaism and Ecology," the author mentions a Midrash (a story that teaches a Torah lesson based on biblical events and values). I quote: "In the hour when the Holy one, Blessed be He, created the first man, He took him and let him pass before all the trees of the Garden of Eden and said to him: 'See my works, how fine and excellent they are! Now all that I have created, for you have I created. Think upon this and do not corrupt and desolate My World, for if you corrupt it, there is no one to set it right after you.'"
I was impressed. It just goes to show that the wisdom is there. Why as a nation have we forgotten these ancient lessons? Could it be they no longer suit our purpose because desolation and corruption have proved to be so profitable? So, ladies and gentlemen, it is time we stopped littering and began cleaning up after ourselves and our consumptive impulses. If not for your sake, then for the sake of your children and your children's children. We are the only hope they have. Beauty is as beauty does. So here's to Andrew and a beautiful future.

Robert Nanninga is an independent video producer, actor, vegan, San Diego Earth Day board member and active member of the Green and environmental community.