Tag Archives: environment

What Goes Around Comes Around

I’ve been reading a fair amount of historical nonfiction lately, and one thing that’s struck me is how the U.S. tends to go through fairly regular cycles of progressive vs. conservative thinking. Here, from “Asleep,” is some interesting data from the 1920s and thereafter.

“Most historians now consider the 1920s an extension of the Progressive Era. The movement began with the antitrust laws that promised to rein in some of the business megamonopolies, but it soon grew into the progress laws and ideals that aimed for a more  modern, safer and healthier lifestyle. Legislation like mandatory milk and meat inspections, restrictions on tenement housing, improved working conditions, and child labor laws passed. The movement then morphed into legislation concerning civil responsibility, granting Native Americans citizenship, and allowing women to vote….”

At the same time Warren G. Harding, widely considered the most corrupt president, died in office. The Teapot Dome Scandal and many others bloomed in the aftermath of his death.

Again, from Crosby’s “Asleep,” comes the  pointed corollaries of all this progress. Immigration became a hot-button issue. The Ku Klux Klan spread like a cancer through the country. Bills were proposed to overturn American’s open-door  policy and stop immigration. A conservative backlash called for the country to return to its “original” religious and ethnic mix. Particularly hated and discriminated against were Italians, Irish, Germans, Puerto Ricans and the migration of American blacks toward Northern cities.

This all ended, of course, with the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression. “Most historians agree it was a complicated combination of factors like consumerism, market speculations, easy credit and business monopolies.”

Sound at all familiar?

By pure chance, the next book I read was set during the era of the Civil  Rights movement, when so many of these factors rose up again. And now, we see them again, and again.

* The destructiveness of consumerism and uncontrolled big business.

* Rampant fear of  “the other,” whether immigrants or people with different lifestyle choices,  or even the old familiar ‘BlackMexicanAsianArab.’

*  The spread of hate groups.  The Klan may be underground, but its brethren  are fully with us.  Westboro Church, anyone?

* Wars to keep us (we the people) distracted from real problems.

* Angry youth.

* Destructive drug use.

It all goes around and comes around, and probably has been since earliest pre-history. Does that mean we give up,  knowing that the cycle appears to be never-ending?

No. We live and seek joy and try to love even our least loveable neighbors. We lend a hand whenever we can,  turn our backs  on selfishness, fear and hatred.

Because no matter what happens before or after, all  each of us us guaranteed is this one existence. What a shame to waste it on fear and hatred and sadness. Somewhere the sun is shining.  Delight in  the day.

P.S. My daughter says I’m too optimistic. My husband probably agrees. But still… smile, laugh, see the beauty rather than the ugliness.

 

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It Ain’t Easy Being Green

Most of us try, I think, to be good people. The definition of “a good person,” unfortunately, doesn’t seem to be comfortably clear-cut. For instance, I try to be environmentally friendly whenever possible. We try to find good foods, to avoid engineered fruits and vegetables and over-fished or polluted meats and fish. I give whenever and whatever I can to those in need. We recycle everything we can recycle here in our small town. And I try to live by the principle of treating others the way I’d like them to treat me: Basically, letting people alone to live their private lives in private. That applies to everything from how people choose to worship to who and how they love to what medical treatment they choose to get or not get … and more.

But it isn’t easy.

Case in point: There aren’t a lot of organic farms here in north Mississippi. Not a lot of people raising and selling grass-fed livestock. So we try to support the few when we can. One of the things we’d been seriously considering was buying some beef from a local farm that raises grass-fed, no growth-hormone cows. What a cool idea, right? And we have freezer space, so we could buy a fair amount and eat it through the coming winter.

All good.

But in an apparently unrelated issue, the American Family Association (remember them? Don Wildmon and the whole anti-Hollywood, anti-TV, anti-pretty much everything crowd?) is one of the major sponsors of something called the Mississippi Personhood Amendment.  http://www.personhoodmississippi.com/amendment-26/what-it-says.aspx It’s a particularly vile piece of wanna-be legislation that they’ve managed to get put on ballots in the upcoming election. Basically, it defines life as beginning at fertilization, whether by the “traditional” method, cloning, in-vitro or whatever. This sly piece of anti-woman propaganda would have long-lasting repercussions on all sorts of things, including stem cell research, the right of a woman to live her own life and more. It’s a classic gambit to give control of women’s lives over to someone other than themselves.

So. Grass-fed beef.

The Mississippi Personhood Amendment folks have thoughtfully made available a web site which lists, among other things, politicians and businesses who support this underhanded amendment. The list has most of the usual suspects but also, dang it, the grass-fed beef people.

Well heck.

So buying the beef would support environmentally friendly cattle-raising methods and strike a blow for small farms against giant agrabusiness. But it would support folks who believe that women should not have the right to control their own bodies. I completely resent being put in the position of having to choose. But I do.

Looks like a noodle kind of winter.

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