Ideological Wars

Posted on July 30, 2011


Sample of water scooped from the Pacific Gyre. Delicious for you. The fish you eat are eating it, too!

We aren’t fighting a war against terrorists to win the hearts and minds of the Middle East. We are fighting it to end the threat of terrorism. Victory can’t be achieved with bullets and bombs alone. This is, at its core, an ideological war. Just as we defeated communism by defeating the communists’ ideology, we need to attack and destroy that of the radical Islamists.

Jed Babbin, Fighting the Ideological War 2006

The West will continue to target China in its ideological war. It seems the Western way has to be the only way and people around the globe should adopt the Western attitudes. In the minds of some Westerners, even if China grows and develops to an advanced level, it still needs to surrender to Western ideologically.

Global Times Editorial 2010

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett on Monday accused Gov. Scott Walker of setting off an “ideological war” by demanding an end to most public-worker collective bargaining rights.

“I think he’s loving the fact he’s created this ideological war,” Barrett said. Barrett was Walker’s Democratic opponent in last fall’s governor’s race. “The whole purpose is to pit people against one another,” the mayor said in an interview afterhis annual “state of the city” speech.

Steve Schultze Journal Sentinel Online 2011

“A while back I had a conversation with an anarchist who was complaining that I was ‘too ideological,’ and that my ideology was ‘the health of the earth.’ Well, actually, the earth is not and cannot ever be an ideology. The earth is physical. It is real. And it is primary. Without soil, you don’t have a healthy land base and without a healthy land base you don’t eat, you die. Without drinkable clean water you die.”

Derrick Jensen The Culture of Make Believe 2004

There’s something to be said for ideology.  We like to believe in things.  We like to believe in things bigger and larger than the physical world because it can’t be quantified in easily understood terms, and therefore it grows larger than us all.

Often times, we throw around the word “ideology” to give labels to things that people have become passionate about.  The selections above represent some of those ideologies that seem to be most concerning to the American people, and to even the world at large.

However, of all those things to “believe”, which one has the most impact on your life?

The economic war of China versus the Western world is going to clearly hurt your bank account.  The physical wars against terrorism will certainly hurt your tax dollars. The political wars against the common worker will certainly hurt the bottom line.

But, the war against the planet will certainly kill you.

The article by Frank Joseph Smecker and Derrick Jensen outlines issues that I’ve consistently thought about.

How can we continue to live and not destroy the planet?

The answer is pretty simple: we can’t.

I’m not advocating mass human extinction (although there are some people that may do the planet more good being worm food than living above ground), but am suggesting that our current catch-22 is that we will consume more than we ever produce.

For the majority of parents living today, the only thing you’ve ever produced is another consumer.  That consumer will most likely produce another consumer, and patterns repeat.  Yet, barely any of us will actually produce raw goods.

After all, for the average person to produce raw goods, we must also consume goods.

If I want to grow my own food, I must travel somewhere to get the fertilizer, the nutrient soil, the seeds, and all the other necessary materials to plant.  Even if I use my hands to dig, and only the soil available to me, I must somehow obtain the seeds for the food I want to produce.  I must also use the precious resource of water to grow that food.

So, in effect, I’m still consuming while I’m producing.

Thus we have some sort of moral dilemma in becoming “green” and “eco-friendly.”  Just how “green” are we really?  It’s like people becoming vegan only out of “ethical” reasons, and justifying it by claiming it is “less of a carbon footprint.”  Yet, it still is a major carbon footprint.

So what do we do to combat this?

First, it seems we need a better education system.  Yes, I know that I talk about education a lot and that I think it is the solution to many problems.

Simply put: it is the solution.

You see, as the article suggests, our moral development has lagged far behind our technological development.  We can no longer fathom why it is bad to rape the planet of its resources merely to feed an infinitely expanding population. When you suggest that this is a problem, you are called a radical and extremist. You have attacked the “ideology” of enterprise and capitalism. We can’t go “green” because it costs too much money.  We can’t go “green” because it’s not a good capital venture.

If we don’t go green, there won’t be any need for economy because everyone will be dead.

Hyperbole, I know.  I’m not one for using hyperbole to incite the masses. It goes against my philosophy of education.

Oh, there’s that pesky word again.

It seems that if we stopped educating people to be technologically driven savages that only see the value of jobs and life defined by how much money and power they can garner, we’d create morally solid individuals. Or, at the very least, we create more connected people who can see beyond their own selfish desires to achieve at faster and higher rates than ever before.

Here’s my anecdotal evidence based upon my own life experience, thereby completely invalidating my entire argument, yet at the same time giving some sort of credence to it by the hopeful association to something you’ve also experienced.

When I first started working in high school at a “sales” job I was told that we needed to meet our “quarterly” expectations.  What was it?  X percent growth.

I asked, “how is it possible to make X percent gross and what happens if we don’t?”

The answer astounded me.  “Don’t worry.  We’ve always made the projected sales growth, and don’t worry if we don’t make it.  We will make it up the next quarter.”

How could this be possible?  Extrapolated over time, it meant that there would be growing amounts of sales every quarter for every year for eternity (or at least until the company no longer existed).

The expectation for yearly growth seemed to boggle my mind.

The only possible way for us to have yearly growth in sales was if there were more and more people shopping every year, or if the same amount of people shopped more.

I quickly learned that all businesses relied on growth.  Our economy relied on growth.  Our stocks and futures relied on growth.  This ideology of endless growth was ingrained in our very society to the point that we bought into it without a concern about what it actually meant.

Even having a retirement fund to “secure your future” means that you are inextricably tied to the very machine that is destroying your planet today.

Then, there was this fascinating lesson I learned in school (education is important): matter is neither created, nor destroyed.

How could the planet be destroyed, if we cannot destroy matter, nor create it? And, if it can’t be created, where the heck are all these people coming from?

From 1960 to 2009, the world’s population has grown from only 3.032 billion to over 6.775 billion (and counting).  In 39 years, the world’s population has doubled.  It is projected to reach over 7 billion by the end of this year.

If matter can neither be created nor destroyed, what matter are we using to create all these people?

We are currently losing an average of 38,000 square miles of arable land per year.  That’s 38,000 square miles of land that potentially creates food.

In 2000, the United States had only 1.8 acres of arable land per capita.  It was estimated that the US would need 1.2 acres per person to feed the US population alone.

I’m not trying to sell my ideology to you.  I don’t even think I have an ideology about the planet.

After all, I’m typing this on a computer that is built from chemically altered metals and plastics.  I’m burning fossil fuels to power it up and to get online.  I’m leaving a carbon footprint just to get this message out, while drinking a whisky and eating non-locally sourced foods.

But, that doesn’t make me a hypocrite.  That’s where people who seem to throw stones would go.  They would label and point and say, “oooh oooh look” and say that you’re no better than they are.

Really, I’m just trying to do what a teacher does.  At least present some ideas for you to chew on for a while.  At least to make you think before you decide to buy that particular product, or use that particular bag, or eat that particular food.

I want to thank Kokkiree for sending the article I mentioned to me.  I had this awesome blog post about our cross country trip all planned in my head (not really), but this one took me a long time to read, to research, and then to write. And, I’m afraid it’s not all that good.

But truthfully, what more could a husband ask for than a wife that makes him ponder the meaning of life and our role in this world?

A couple of kisses.  There’s some real global warming.