Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Pardon my grammar in the title, but I’m trying to riff on naval commander Oliver Perry’s famous “We have met the enemy, and they are ours,” which was previously riffed on during our Vietnam era by Walt Kelly’s Pogo: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

The enemy is me.  I am the enemy because I’m part of the problem and not enough of the solution.  The problem I mean is unsustainability: the way we humans are living heavily, not lightly, on the Earth, behaving collectively like a cancerous growth, devouring and poisoning Earth’s vulnerable ecosystem.

Although I like to write loftily about “creating a sane society” and imagining “positive futures on the human frontiers,” I have not closely and critically examined my own modus vivendi.  I have a large house.  I use chemicals on my lawn.  I eat meat.  Though I ride my bike to work, I own two gas-powered cars with middling mileage.  While I recently attended a high-minded conference on “Teaching Literacy for Love and Wisdom,” I flew 3,100 miles round-trip to do so.  In lots of ways I know better than I do.

For instance, I know I ought to work concertedly to “raise my consciousness” and thereby alter my behaviors in salutary ways.  I ought to meditate and do yoga programmatically so as to tune up my mind and body to function most effectively.  I ought to be more dedicated to community service or have better excuses for time and energy frivolously squandered.  Rather than just talking about “Love and Wisdom,” I need to practice them, daily, liberally, generously.

Maybe at best, people like me can hope to be “wounded healers.”  We mean well, intend to help the world grow saner, healthier, wiser; but we see our own fallibilities and faults.  We work to improve ourselves, to cultivate our own gardens and help others tend theirs.  And we seek for clearer visions of how to live and thrive so that all others may do likewise.

But to the extent that we seek our own advantage, looking out for Number One to the detriment of others, we are the enemy of health and harmony on Earth.