June 3, 2013

Istanbul and Sandy:  Social Justice and Earth Justice

Istanbul and Sandy:  Social Justice and Earth Justice

Today in Istanbul, the surprise Spring continues, with many thousands rising up against the abuses of Turkey's fundamentalist government.  At the beginning, though, it was a modest protest of the kind I have devoted my own life to:  resisting a new downtown mall, the bulldozers advancing on Genzi Park, the last green space in that part of the old city.  I've noticed that reporters think it is flukish that a park's destruction would launch a nationwide response.  The livability of trees and grass must be a separate issue from the human rights encroachments that sparked this passionate uprising.

As we pass 400 carbon units per million, it is clear that the world needs a new political perspective, where we are not splintered into our "issues," but stand together with the Earth.  The isolation of the Environmental Movement needs to be overcome.   There are many good folks working in those well-funded NGO's, but they would not, for instance, bring together the homelessness that comes from fraudulent foreclosures with the sudden homelessness of a super storm.  They think the two storms must remain separate issues.

In New York City we have banks like JPMorgan Chase, Citibank and Bank of America - whose policies drove the foreclosure mills that led to so much homelessness in our country. These same banks move billions into projects which put CO2 into the air in great quantities, especially coal-fired power plants.  Yet, when Hurricane Sandy hit our city, there was no mention of Wall Street's creation of the very conditions that brought us destruction.  On the contrary, the banks sponsored blanket give-aways and musical concerts.  They storm-washed any inconvenient truth that might emerge about their investments.

Indeed, the thousand mile wide Sandy was not publicly tied to any possible cause - other than the vaguest of references to climate change.  The suggestion that some of us felt - that retribution was at hand by a storm that veered left in the North Atlantic for a dead-eye hit on the Apple, wasn't something you could say out loud.   Sandy couldn't be that smart.  But this is the way we have always looked at nature since the dawn of the industrial age.   Weather disasters can only be an "Act of God," and the Earth cannot respond to our actions.  The Earth has no consciousness.

It is my experience that peoples' on-the-ground conversations give much more common sense credit to an angry Earth.  Climate change is regarded by us as a response to the poisons of our species.  And Earth's protest makes sense to us because of how angry we ourselves have been against fundamentalist tyrannies.  We sense the similarity of our citizens' revolutions, and the Earth's uprising against the fundamentalist expansion of its apex predator, homo sapiens.

This is the basis for my expectation that the world's people will rise up against homelessness from social injustice and homelessness from earth injustice  - simultaneously.  We are beginning to find our homelessness as much in the loss of our atmosphere as we do in the loss of a house on the street.  The two forms that injustice take are becoming the same mother of all issues.

And so the swirl of justice-striving humanity in Istanbul's Genzi Park and the floods and winds from Earth's protest - have common cause.  There is a growing sense that we are out of time, we are "inhaling our last breath."  All the issues are becoming one.  Will the Arab Spring evolve into the Earth Spring?  Will Occupy Wall Street become Earth Occupies Humans?  I believe that the joining together will make a super storm - a force for justice of overwhelming power.

The River Song

This song by the Stop Shopping Choir expresses love for the Hudson River, and outrage that it is undermined by high-pressure fracked gas pipelines.