With the depredations of the last century and a half, eroding the values we evolved with as an agrarian people, the pace and tenor of modern life require us to restore many aspects of our human way-of-life on our home watersheds:
We are relearning many of the things our ancestors took for granted: how to grow food without chemicals, how to create an integrated agriculture, how to can and dry foods, how to identify mushrooms and other medicines in the wild, how to process fiber from several animal and plant sources.
Environmental Art by Andy Goldsworthy
New discoveries are teaching us many things: how to use solar to store and produce energy, how plants that evolved on different continents, like quinoa, offer many nutritional benefits,
- Will we WANT to do these things in order to live in place?
- Will we be willing to learn from the indigenous people who have live in our watershed for millennia and are restoring their own cultures?
- Will we have the patience to analyze the optimal energy sources for our watershed, by season?
We poorly understand nature’s intricate relationships:
- co-evolution of insects, plants and animals,
- functions of soil mycelium,
- subtleties of prairie and desert in terms of functional watershed,
- how grasslands and forests sequester carbon,
- how river, fish and forest restoration are intimately related,
- how a molecule of DEET destroys the life-cycles of our native silk moths,
- what multiple chemical effects are destroying our amphibians and bees,
- the positive benefits of controlled burns.
If we don’t understand these intimate synergies, how can we begin to work on restoration? Restoration scientists know a great deal they are prepared to teach, through the land grant universities, for example, and cooperative extensions.
The United States was founded by and for the individual in the context of community. The benefits of community are several generations removed from our direct experience.
Cuba’s isolation after the collapse of the Soviet bloc 30 years ago and the U.S. embargo for the past 50 years demonstrates what a society naturally creates in isolation from the larger trends of the outside world. While global cultures are being eaten alive by a predatory capitalism that remains unchecked by national and international institutions, Cuba has created humane institutions in healthcare, education, childcare and family benefits, and growing food. The benefits of instituting these social benefits communally has been possible within the Cuban experiment.
In the United States, during the same half century, movements to put social benefits into place have been sabotaged by charges of socialism and communism. A political policy that uses fear to control the population has worked to check constructive criticism.
Restoration is complex and would involve in a national public works employment program, guarantee of human benefits of drinking water, clean air, universal healthcare and housing and excellent education throughout the country, regardless of local property taxes.
A citizenry whose government guarantees these basic human right would have the support of the people. Can the countries within the European Union and Scandinavia be faulted for their high income tax when everyone is guaranteed the same basic human rights and protections against predatory capitalism?
- Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine lays out how several generations of policy makers have controlled the population of the United States with fear and tactics, allowing them to control us without much of a police force.
- With one of ten U.S. women experiencing rape or violence in her lifetime, with a disparity in wages and representation in government and the higher echelons of business, the proven advantages of the female point-of-View in both business, government and society is not fully taken advantage of.
- With one of ten black males spending time in prison, and black young people being shot down in the streets without justice being served, black women holding jobs and raising children alone, often without the benefit of community or extended family, the possibility of living in a society that enjoys equity and social justice is nil.
- With endless war being waged by the U.S. around the world, and corporations having a carte blanche to the resources of the Third World and indigenous populations, is it any wonder that we can’t afford the same social benefits as Cuba, Europe or Scandinavia?
- With the top 1% of U.S. citizens collectively having as much wealth as the bottom half of U.S. citizens, power is collected disproportionately in a small handful of people.
- How is the illusion of democracy maintained in such an oligarchy?
- How does the American Dream remain alive and a realistic goal among the poor, the working class, and middle class of Americans. . .the other 99%?
- With our presidency and other elected officials bought and sold, how do we maintain faith in our system?