This short series of reports deals with the greening of a family, as much as my own personal greening. However, I must admit to being the driving force behind this proposed change in our lifestyle back in 1975.
My goal, which became the goal of my wife and two kids, was to achieve a lifestyle that would allow us to have the most minimal negative impact possible on the planet, yet still have a relatively full and satisfying existence.
When I first considered such a minimal impact way of living, many thoughts came to mind. First I looked at the incredibly negative impact or adverse affect we humans seem, as a rule, to have had on the earth. Rampant pollution, urban sprawl, the industrial revolution, deforestation, endless housing developments in suburbia, the modernization of agriculture, the so-called taming of the land and rampant overpopulation to name a few examples. I also thought of the ill begotten concept of “dominion” which some religions arrogantly bestow upon their “believers”.
I saw where even the seemingly good things we once did had somehow grown out of control. For example, the simple agricultural family or tribe which nurtured the land and gleaned from it the basic essentials of living. Patiently working a small parcel of land and foraging in nature provided food. Shelter came from the natural materials found in any given region. Water came from a nearby streams and later perhaps a hand dug wells. Additional water was collected from rainfall run-off. Clothing came from both the growing of fiber, the gathering of fiber and of course adornments from nature, including animal skins and so on. Such a vigorous lifestyle also promoted health and well being; it nurtured a reverence for the Earth and for nature.
From this simple tribal unit grew the family farm and from the family farm came the corporate farm which spawned the bloated practice of over cultivation, soil erosion, and soil depletion which then lead to artificial means of sustaining croplands by the use of both synthetic fertilizers and endless applications of pest control poisons, fungicides, “weed” control solutions, defoliants, and finally petroleum powered air-conditioned mega-machines to harvest the resulting abundance of imitation food; witness the ultimate birth of today’s agribusiness giants.
It looked to me, back in 1975 like the best thing we humans could do to save the world was to just entirely leave the planet! But then I thought about how humans have as much right to be here as any other life form. We have the right to thrive and flourish. We even have the right to assume the entire Earth was “created” to be our own personal paradise with which we might do as we please. However, the right to assume such things does not mean we are correct in this assumption.
What does all this have to do with going “green”? To me it has everything to do with it! In many ways, going green is the same as going back to the basic fundamentals of living in harmony with the earth. Of course there are degrees of green living, just like there are degrees involved in most things.
One can switch from using toxic products, for example, to using as many safe and health alternative solutions as possible. This is certainly a good thing for the family unit, the community and the environment. It is a degree of going green. However, I was after the entire enchilada as we say here in the Southwest. The only trouble was, how to define this theory of absolute green living?
With what degree of green living should I be satisfied? How severe of a change of lifestyle would the rest of my family accept? Obviously the way of zero impact living was out of the question. To live on the planet is to impact the planet in both positive and negative ways. End of discussion.
Actually, in many ways, the animal, plant and microbial kingdoms are all as set on the total dominion of the Earth as we humans. However even when all of these prolific life forms do their worst, the impact is minimal. The balance of nature keeps their life force in check. Such variables as instinctive behavior, the seasons, long range changes in climate, cataclysmic events and so on act as a series of checks and balances aimed at maintaining a sound and sane balance in the world ecology.
The human animal, however, is the wild card. Of all the life forms we know of as generic to the Earth, only we humans possess the ability and the power to willfully destroy the balance of nature. Only we have the creativity and the cleverness to literally engineer the self-annihilation of our planet! Just think about it!
Back in the sixties and seventies we lived with the feeble fear that mankind would self destruct via the employment of weapons of mass destruction. However, the chances of that happening were always lessor than greater and remain so even today. What is a certainty however, is a different form of annihilation that is already underway.
If I were from another world and I happened upon the Earth this day and time, I’d beam a report back home about a civilization of self conscious animals that have so depressed their nurturing planet it has decided to commit slow and painful suicide. I would explain how these clever creatures are using the abundance natural resources of their planet and every available form of energy to literally destroy the very life-giving source of this rich bounty.
When you willfully upset the balance of nature to the degree we have done, it is the same as urging and manipulating the Earth into the act of destroying itself, much like prehistoric peoples are said to have driven wild animals to leap to their own death from high canyon walls and cliffs. In these modern times, however, we seem intent on driving ourselves to the brink of disaster, in addition to almost every other form of life on the planet.
The unabashed and unbridled greed of a few misguided and terminally myopic persons is the simple raw force driving this malignant madness. But the blame, if one wishes to indulge in such useless but pandemic pastimes, lies just as much with the masses of the people (read you and me) as it does these potentates of pollution. Why?
Simply because no industry, no government nor movement can achieve anything without the will and the power of the people. Even the worst despot of modern times, could not have carried forth his ill gotten goals and instigated World War II without the will and support and concentrated actions of the German people who chose to follow their fearless leader, even into the jaws of hell on earth.
What does this have to do with going green? For me, everything.
If I am to be a green person, I must not and should not support anything or any person or the goals of any person or any person’s company who does not hold the health of the planet and the life forms which reside thereon dear to his or her heart. If I support companies that pollute or practice unacceptable to me practices such as cruelty to animals, I am not a “green” person, am I?
I think not. So perhaps one can be green or one can be pseudo-green.
In looking around me, back in 1975, I quickly saw that to be green, I personally would need to create an entirely new way of living. One that moved myself and my family as far as possible beyond the surly bonds of capitalistic greed in all it’s manifold forms. Not just regarding location, mind you, but support of such greed in any form. By support I am referring to buying products produced by non-green, non-socially responsible companies and above all not accepting employment from such firms either.
For me, such drastic measures seemed to required a complete relocation to a rural homestead where a self-sustaining lifestyle could be realized. For others it might mean something totally different. But I looked at it this way.
If I don’t believe in adding flouride or chlorine to the water supply of the city in which I live yet the majority decide to do these things, I must then move out of that city. Otherwise I will in fact be supporting such actions as floridation or chlorination by merely paying taxes and purchases services offered by the metroplex in which I reside.
Using this example as a reason for relocating, many of my associates and friends said I was merely choosing to run away from issues rather than standing up for my convictions. In other words, I should stay and fight, or try and “re-educate” others into seeing things my way.
Perhaps this would be the better path for some. I, however, decided it was better to find a small piece of land somewhere away from the constraints of metropolitan bureaucracies where we as a family could more or less have a far greater degree of control over almost every aspect of our personal environment.
How simple it sounds! Little did I know how difficult it would be to achieve in reality. In my next installment, I will describe the adventure of our relentless search for the perfect green homestead, nestled in the bosom of an unspoiled paradise! Will we find it or not?
Please tune in next month for the continuing saga of the greening of Ezra.
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