Sunday, March 27, 2011

R-E-S-P-O-N-S-I-B-I-L-I-T-Y: A Lenten Carbon Fast Challenge

One of the first stories I remember reading in school was about a farmboy learning to define and spell a big word: r-e-s-p-o-n-s-i-b-i-l-i-t-y. There was some sort of crisis on the farm, and he had to go to school, or maybe get the harvest in ... I don't remember what exactly. At the end of the story, he saw all the neighbors going to the farm with their equipment to deal with the crisis, and he learned what responsibility means (and also how to spell it.)
This was an important lesson as a kid, but why don't we expect the same of our nation?
I got thinking about this as a result of Today's Lenten Carbon Fast challenge: (courtesy of my bloggy friend Small Footprints):
"Think about how all countries can commit to tackling climate change and how richer, developed countries can take responsibility and cut emissions quickly. Think about how governments and world leaders can seek climate change agreements."
I want to be proud of my nation. We've done some pretty good stuff, and we have a lot of great things going. Being the first modern democracy, overthrowing slavery, saving civilization in the 1940s, and so on ... good stuff, our ancestors did. Some bad mixed in with the good (...ask my Native American relatives ...) but on the whole: much to be proud of.
But today, what passes as national pride seems to be mere vainglory: a celebration of strength, and an allergy to responsibility. The idea of working together with other nations gives some people the hives (as we see with the Libya situation, letting France lead a military operation in which we are participating is unthinkable!) And the idea that we need to stop pouring poisons into our atmosphere is rejected on the grounds that it someone limits freedom - as if there is some freedom to poison each other.
It's as if people never heard of "teamwork". It's as if people never heard of "responsibility".
Look, I don't want to be a grump about this, but anyone who doesn't want the strongest possible pollution controls, a zeroing out of our net carbon impact and a willingness to work with other nations is just too immature to be left around power tools.
I realize that the challenge might have been directed more towards ways-and-means, but frankly, the holdup in our nation is not our ability to solve the problem: it's in our will to solve the problem. We need to wake up and grow up and get to it. Like the neighbor-farmers driving their equipment to deal with the crisis, we need to stop being so childish and fulfill our r-e-s-p-o-n-s-i-b-i-l-i-t-y.

1 comment:

Small Footprints said...

Wow ... excellent post! I can't even imagine how wonderful this world would be if every single person took responsibility and did the right thing ... all of the time.