A family recipe, a childhood memory, a Depression-era handout
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“One Nation, Indivisible” features excerpts from The Sun’s archives that speak to the current political moment.
Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech is famous because it put forward an inspiring, positive vision that carried within it a critique of the current moment. Imagine how history would have turned out had King given an “I have a nightmare” speech instead.
In the absence of a bold vision and a reconsideration of the problem, environmental leaders are effectively giving the “I have a nightmare” speech, not just in our press interviews but also in the way that we make our proposals. The world’s most effective leaders are not issue-identified but rather vision- and value-identified. These leaders distinguish themselves by inspiring hope against fear, love against injustice, and power against powerlessness.
“The Death of Environmentalism,” Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus, February 2005
Sometimes we convince ourselves that the unnoticed gestures of “insignificant” people mean nothing. It’s not enough to recycle our soda cans; we must Stop Global Warming Now. Since we can’t Stop Global Warming Now, we may as well not recycle our soda cans. It’s not enough to be our best selves; we have to be Gandhi. And yet when we study the biographies of our heroes, we learn that they spent years in preparation, doing tiny, decent things before one historic moment propelled them to center stage and used them to tilt empires.
“Political Paralysis,” Danusha Veronica Goska, November 2004
The worst offenders are happy to implicate and entangle us in every possible way and make us blame ourselves for climate change. We have to do our best to shake loose of that entanglement and never turn our rage against ourselves or allow self-criticism to dissipate our anger toward the real culprits. Of course each of us should be using less oil. But when I hear people piously say, “We have met the enemy, and he is us,” I say, bullshit. I didn’t cut corners and cause an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I didn’t do my best to undermine the Environmental Protection Agency and every other agency that might have limited fracking. I’m not lobbying Congress to open oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean. I didn’t cut funding for alternative energy sources. Big Oil is pouring billions of dollars into shaping government policies and consumer preferences. And what do we say? “Oh, I should be a more mindful consumer.” Of course we should, but that’s only the beginning.
“If Your House Is on Fire,” Kathleen Dean Moore, interviewed by Mary DeMocker, December 2012
We are standing on the verge of a new economy in the U.S., and we need to think about who this economy will include, and who it will exclude. It would be easy to say that once we have renewable this and organic that, everybody will benefit, but that’s not a progressive policy; it’s just trickle-down Reaganomics in “greenface.” Of course there will be jobs created, but will kids over in west Oakland be able to get those jobs? Will we be satisfied with a sustainable economy that, at the end of the day, is eco-apartheid? Is a green economy only about reclaiming throwaway stuff, or is it also about reclaiming throwaway communities, throwaway people, throwaway children?
“Bridging the Green Divide,” Van Jones, interviewed by David Kupfer, March 2008
For years, I imagined I could do without civilization: leave it all behind, hitchhike into the wilderness, live without electricity, wear my exile with pride. I never really lived that way, never found the commune, yet I held on to the dream as an emblem of distinction.
In the tent last night, I was reminded that the modern world was created by people just like me, out of their deepest fear and longing; that civilization isn’t a mistake someone else keeps making. What would it mean, I ask, to accept my responsibility for it, without excuse or apology, without distancing myself ever so slightly from the poisoned oceans, the acid rain?
“Trail’s End,” Sy Safransky, October 1991