The Day America Died

15 12 2007

Al Gore

By Jill Ettinger

Thursday might have been the most depressing day in American history. For starters, Al Gore spent most of the morning desperately pleading with the panel at the International Climate Conference in Bali to be patient for another two years while the United States (hopefully) begins a recovery process from the Bush administration’s embarrassing disregard for our climate crisis. (That is of course if Bush doesn’t declare Marshall Law and we’re actually allowed to elect a new president.) Seems the only wars that Bush is interested in spending money on involve depleting natural resources and killing innocent people, many of which are Americans.

Poor Gore. He headed straight from accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo for his work in solving the climate crisis to the Conference in Bali only to thwart a chorus of disdain led by the European Union, aimed at the U.S. The blatantly ignorant lax contributions from the U.S. is a dejected commentary on the state of our nation in both the eyes of the world, and those of us born into this citizenry who wish it were a place worth proudly calling home.

This used to be a great country.

The American Dream used to be the world’s dream: democracy, honor, health, wealth, happy families, romance, and of course, baseball. Oh yeah, baseball. While the future of the entire world was literally being compromised by an uncooperative United States in Bali, the pastime that once stood for our very freedom and integrity collapsed. Some of the most respected players were revealed to be nothing more than performance drug enhanced science experiments. America’s greatest sport is a lie.

Not that this should surprise us much. What can we really expect from these guys? Certainly they are mature adults who made a choice, but weren’t they just living up to the American Dream? Or should I say horrifying nightmare? Our cultural expectations have created mad methods to achieving an unrealistic goal. Barry Bonds is not the cause of these problems with baseball or any part of America for that matter; he is a result – a sad casualty of the nation we’ve become. This is all too obvious now as holiday spending ramps up along with our credit card debt and shopping mall murder/suicide killing sprees.

We’re in denial.

This country is filtered through a corporatocracy (read John Perkins’ Confession of An Economic Hitman), media propaganda and political puppets, while truth seekers are shunned and ostracized. Is there anyone who saw Michael Moore’s Sicko that isn’t completely devastated by a system designed to keep us sick and broke? How in the world can the “land of the free and the home of the brave” allow this to continue for one more day?

World leaders are urging the creation of a new agreement on climate crisis by 2009, to replace the Kyoto Protocol. It’s a critical necessity backed by slews of the world’s top scientists. We’re simply not able to disregard the greenhouse bubble we’ve built. Yet the politicking (read: procrastinating) of the American government on this issue is not in the public interest; it’s only about one temporary and essentially useless thing: money. If our world keeps heating up (last ten years were hottest on record), there will be no use for money. You can’t buy the ocean off to stop it from rising. Nature does not take American Express.

The human race, like all other species that have ever existed, lies in the 1% who has not gone extinct – yet. Of all the species that have ever existed – and that’s billions – 99% of them are extinct. This is how nature works. She’s a changeling. However, of all those other species that we know of none have had the capacity to persevere like human beings. Perhaps it is our nature to defy nature. That’s not necessarily a radical concept. If it’s our nature to find a way to work around destructive forces, that is still, essentially, part of nature. Our species is more capable than any other of change, though we vilify it. We may not feel as though our metamorphosis is as magnificent as a caterpillar becoming a butterfly, but it’s something. Just look at the last hundred years. People born in 1907 seem prehistoric. (They didn’t even have refrigerators until 1915.) Our pace towards greatness has been fast-tracked, though the track teeters along the edge of our ultimate demise.

But all living things experience set backs. The harshness of nature changes us, as does its beauty. Perhaps they are the same thing. The truth is we don’t know where our actions are leading us – as stewards of the Earth or ambassadors to an entire culture. But both of them were challenges for America yesterday. Is that a trigger to recalibrate our collective effort? Or is it the beginning of the end of an America we’ll never get to be?

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