Saturday, February 23, 2013

What would Massasoit decide on Climate Change?

 

DCRally2013While on a (full) bus out of Rochester, NY to attend the "Forward on Climate" rally in Washington, DC last Sunday, I got to wondering about this incredible time of ours. We sit on the shores of history on the precipice of world-transforming change. It’s time to reflect about what guides our thinking. I’m thinking it’s not mainstream media.

The rally in Washington included a stop at the National World War II Memorial where several hundred of us from New York State rallied against Fracking (drilling for fossil fuels) in New York that got almost no media coverage. Thursday’s anti-Fracking in downtown Rochester, as Governor Cuomo visited , got almost no media coverage either except for a short mention in an article in the Democrat and Chronicle (last three paragraphs) and a more robust article in the non-mainstream Rochester IndyMedia: Protesters Greet Governor With Message About Fracking

The "Forward on Climate" rally brought 50,000 concerned folks to the streets of our capitol on Climate Change. I could not find a vantage point from which to see all 50,000 the crowd was so large. Relatively few mainstream media covered this event, though many new media outlets like EcoWatch and Democracy Now! did. And a couple of weeks ago at the world premiere screening of COMFORT ZONE, a local film about Climate Change, the seats were full, yet there was no media coverage after the screening to get the reaction of local folks to this world-wide crisis.

Many folks are getting alarmed but still not enough to make a real difference in how much greenhouse gases we release into our atmosphere. (Good intentions by only a few won’t do; it’s a problem of physics.) What’s going on? Shouldn’t the warming of our planet merit more interest than a relative few who the mainstream media repeatedly ignores? What’s to tell seven billion people what to do?

The media tells us that only the next thing that moves is worthy of our attention. Philosophy tells us that neo-Darwinism (reductionism) may not fully explain reality and consciousness. Psychology tells us whether we are acting and thinking like everyone else. History tells us change happens. Economics tells us that only money matters. Politicians tell us only what we want to hear. Astronomy tells us that a lot of very intelligent folks are focused on something that won’t matter much if we don’t address Climate Change. Religion tells us to have faith. Our own senses tell us that here in Rochester, New York it’s cold outside. Science tells us the world is warming due to manmade emissions of greenhouse gases at a rate faster than ever in recorded history.

How do we (in the collective sense) filter what’s important from all the noise around us? Do we continue to wait and see if Climate Change cooks us? Or do we act now? If we are ever to get visited by aliens, as Dr. Sagan (of SETI Institute) suggested, now would be a good time. Their mere existence on our planet would prove intelligent beings can make it through rapid development without extincting themselves.

Massasoit of the Wampanoags watched the pilgrims in the early 1600’s perish in large numbers, as they struggled to survive during their first harsh winter in the New World. Far outnumbering these new people from afar, the Wampanoag chief wondered whether he should help them or just exterminate the invaders to his lands.

It would be interesting to know what his thoughts were as he sat upon the shores and looked into the rising sun. He was the leader of his people at a very important juncture of history. His people were being devastated by diseases and threatened by nearby Indians. If he helped these new people, a people with guns and many more to come across the sea, they might help him against his enemies. Or these new people, with their strange ways, might overwhelm his people. It must have crossed Massasoit’s mind that incredible changes, whatever he decided, were coming. What guided his actions at such a point in his history when there was nothing like it before to guide him?

After much thought Massasoit chose to help the pilgrims to survive their wintry ordeal.

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