Friday, March 25, 2011

The unbearable brightness of seeing

I've been invited, on Facebook, to participate in something called "Earth Hour," an event of which I was previously unaware. And it's a good thing, as it turns out, because there's nothing like happenings like Earth Hour to exasperate the living [deleted to spare my mother's feelings] out of me and undo all the good that's being done in me by the application of greater amounts of prayer during Lent and some pre-menopause vitamins my husband picked up for me at GNC.

Earth Hour, which will happen tomorrow, March 26 at 8:30 p.m., is the time when we are all to shut off the lights in our houses to "take a stand against climate change." (See the Earth Hour website by clicking here.) According to the website, this is more than just fumbling around in the dark for sixty minutes and whacking your ankle against the coffee table, it is "all about giving people a voice and working together to create a better future for our planet."

I am not sure how shutting off the lights in the house for an hour is supposed to give people a voice, although I can see that there might be a bunch of voices lifted up yelling, "Oh, $#&@!" as they hurt themselves in the dark. Apparently, this is about "sustainability issues," and stopping "the degradation of the Earth's natural environment" and also, loftily, "building a future where people live in harmony with nature."

What a load of crap.

People do not live in harmony with nature because nature, my Earth Hour friends, is the boss. Ask the people of Japan. Their country ran right up against nature in that earthquake and the following tsunami and there is nothing harmonious AT ALL about that mess. Their lights have been turned off for them and it is absolutely nothing that they wanted to happen.

Our pioneer ancestors here in the United States lived much closer to nature than we do. Here in Indiana, my forebears and their neighbors didn't have electricity. They didn't have running water. They didn't have indoor plumbing. And you know what? Their entire EXISTENCE was about keeping nature at bay, conquering it. Can you imagine what a relief and a joy it was to those people to spend years clearing their land, eventually building barns and replacing their log cabins with real houses? Can you imagine how exciting it was to have "the electric," as my great-grandparents called it, run to those houses? How amazing it was to have water, both cold and hot, running in sinks in the kitchen and the bathroom? How amazing it was to have a coal furnace that kept everyone warm?

We are soft, now. We've lived so long with those amenities that we've forgotten how lucky we are to have them. We've lived so long with them that we -- or at least some of us -- have the gall to scorn them. I think the biggest irony is that this Earth Hour palaver has been spread largely through the internet. Which operates ON ELECTRICITY, with desk top models that are plugged into wall outlets and laptop batteries that are charged and why does this fact seem to have escaped so many?

And why don't those same people understand that the constant drive of civilization has been to be in harmony with nature by protecting ourselves from it? Nature is red in tooth in claw not only in wildlife; it's also pretty down and dirty environmentally, as in the aforementioned Japan. I wonder if any of these folks who plan to turn their lights off at 8:30 tomorrow suffered through Katrina, when the whole push was to put as much of a halt to Mother Nature's gallop as they could after the terrible flooding. People needed food to eat that was unspoiled. They needed potable water. They needed toilets and beds and places to wash themselves and their clothes.

Three of those things I mentioned depend largely on electricity. Efficient cooking, bathing and washing can be accomplished through solar power, I suppose, but when the need is urgent, there's nothing like a big old generator to get things done. You can drink warm water out of bottles. And unless you have one of those adjustable beds or an electric blanket, the place where you sleep is electricity-free.

But then you have to think about the people who are served by electricity in ways beyond the normal scope of most people's lives. What about the people who are on dialysis machines? Ventilors? What about babies in NICU in their incubators? What about the people who need radiation treatments and MRIs and CAT scans and surgery? Do you want a surgeon to take out your gall bladder by candlelight? No? Can't blame you. Neither do I. Thank goodness we have all this EVIL electricity to keep all those things going so that people don't have to die at birth, like they did in generations past because we didn't have the technology to hook a baby up to an electric heart monitor. Thank goodness our life expectancy isn't 40 years old, which was the average life span for a man in 1900. You can get treatments for your cancer or your failing kidneys and any number of other ailments that used to kill people by the dozens. Thanks to electricity.

The last thing that strikes me as being so bogus about Earth Hour is this: We're all being called to turn off our lights at 8:30 tomorrow evening. Just the lights. No one is being asked to unplug the computer or the television, the washer and dryer, the refrigerator. Please tell me - what good does this do? Yes, yes, "raise awareness," blah blah blah. Big flippin' deal. This serves no purpose whatsoever, unless it might actually wake some people up so that they can see how fortunate we are to live now, in this time and place. With electricity and the technology that's been brought into being through it. And Nature, kept at bay, so that we can enjoy this easy life we've been given in civilization.


Whosyergurl said...

Great post.

Two in One said...

AMEN, Sister! I couldn't agree much more.