Open letter to Americans

Open Letter to Americans from a Canadian

from Daily Kos


Kevin Spacey as “The Rainforest”

From Conservation International, a new line of short spots that highlight all that nature does for us, and how little we do for it.

Kevin Spacey as his usual ironic self….

(For some reason it won’t go directly to the Kevin Spacey one.  Julia Roberts is good as Mother Nature too, but you should really see the Kevin Spacey one.)


The Paradox

It’s hard to wrap your head around two ideas that are seemingly contradictory, and accept them both as truth.

Imagine your grandmother whom you love deeply.  She has taken care of you in times of need.  You’ve seen her caring, compassionate acts, sometimes even directed at total strangers.  You are convinced she is a wonderful person on every level.  Then you hear her call a black person the n-word, and she’s mean about it.  It’s hard to take.  But as we get older we see our loved ones more for what they truly are – a mixture of “good” and “bad” – instead of as the perfect individual that we perceived them to be.  (This is of course the generic situation.  It could be the opposite – where you can’t see the good and only see bad – or somewhere in the middle.)

Your grandmother is of course both “good” and “bad”.  Most of us are.  But this is an ideal introduction to the paradox because we have a very hard time not assigning our grandmother to the “good” category and never thinking about it again.

The whole concept of good/bad is faulty, I know.  We are products of our culture and upbringing and if someone is “bad” in certain ways the explanation could most likely be found by following it back to a source that was beyond their control.

But my argument is that there are tons of paradoxes all over our lives, constantly occurring.  Take a conservative and a liberal going back and forth about the health care mandate:

Conservative: “It’s not right that the government can force us to buy something.”

Liberal:  “It’s not right that people can choose not to buy health insurance then receive the same service that those who pay for it receive, sticking the taxpayers with the cost.”

Both things can be true.  You might think that one argument supersedes the other, but the point is to not think in such a way that puts everything into strict opposing categories.

And I don’t mean to tell anyone how to think.  I just wish humans didn’t have a tendency to think in such reductionist, categorical ways.

I believe that nearly everyone has the ability to accept the paradox, but it’s cultured out of them from birth by adults who can’t accept it.  A vicious cycle.

Letter to my Step-Father

(This is a letter to my step-father who is so hard of hearing that he is basically deaf.  So I really can’t hold down a conversation with him and when I try, I have to yell so hard that it’s very much not enjoyable.  I may someday give him this letter.)

If there’s anything I know about you Mike, it’s that you love your business.  You love the deal-making, the shop talk, the pieces and parts that you use to create and build things.    You probably wouldn’t want to live without your business, your shop.  You proudly told my mother that you will work until the day you die.

You love business itself, too.  It’s everything to you.  The Wall Street Journal and CNBC can hold you captivated for hours.  You surround yourself with dollar signs and markets.  I’m glad I don’t know how many times a day you curse Obama or say cruel things about the “other side”.  Better yet, I’m glad my mother doesn’t know.

I’ve noticed that you seem to have no relationship with nature.  In fact, could you possibly have disdain for it?  Or maybe it just means nothing to you either way.

Well it means a lot to me.  It’s everything to me.  The woods are my “shop”.  I love the smells and sights and everything about it.  I don’t know if I would want to live without it.  I wish you could see how what I treasure most matters too.

And I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about it but not just “business” makes up America.  We also have tons of beautiful landscapes, interesting plants, lakes and streams, forests… so many unbelievable places and things.

Even though you choose not to have a relationship with nature that doesn’t mean millions of children in the future won’t want to.

When you come to me and tell me that some farmers in California aren’t getting irrigated because a tiny little fish (pinching your fingers together to show me how small it is) is endangered, with that look of disgust on your face, all I can do is shake my head in disappointment.

That little fish feeds other bigger fish, and if that little fish disappears it will be another rung on the ladder to a dead river.  I’m not the only one who cares about that.  There are men who like business who care about that too.

When you say we should get rid of the EPA, does that mean you are okay with factories pouring their by-products into waterways when that would either kill the life in the river or poison children that drink it, or both….?  Is that just okay with you?  Or do you tell yourself that the fish really aren’t being killed and the children aren’t really being poisoned?

Perhaps you don’t think about it at all.

But sometimes I wonder.