Monday, September 10, 2007

False Dichotomy

Inform me if I am perceiving America strangely, having been an American for more than a quarter century, but I get the impression that the American political (false) dichotomy generally says this about the environment:

Many of those on the right seem to believe that man is meant to dominate the world, drilling for oil wherever he pleases, driving whatever vehicle he wants, denying global warming, and expanding his territory wherever he pleases. Basically, it's cultural comfort at the cost of natural resources.

By the same token, many of those on the left seem to believe that humans should live as if they never existed on Earth by creating nature preserves, legislating environmentalism, encouraging the development and proliferation of machines that emit zero waste products, replanting a tree whenever a tree has been cut down, etc., in hopes to wipe out several millennia of the aforementioned attitude. It's really a reactionary attitude, often labeled as a facet of liberal guilt, but more accurately a cultural guilt, treating the humans of our civilization more like a virus and less like talking mammals or intelligent life or beings with souls (take your pick).

All right, this is the analysis of my perception. My perceived right is wrong because that attitude's pretty much depleting the Earth, eventually to a point beyond hope. My perceived left is wrong because there is no divide between humanity and nature because we are a part of nature, as (again, thanks to Daniel Quinn's analogies) we are subject to gravity and the law of thermodynamics. There is no divide.

So the ideal end of all this is to both drop the greed of resources and the guilt of cleaning the crime scene. The lesson, or yet another pipe dream, is for our global culture to take just what we need and nothing more. The world might look like a buffet, but too many people have piled their plates high, more than they can eat.

Then again, as long as there are resource hogs, we need more and more reactionary cleanup crews. It's sad but true.

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