Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I, too, wonder what pushes us over the edge.

I drove to Omaha the other night. No good reason, really. After a day at the manor I was bored and thirsty, and all my friends out of town at either a wedding in Little Rock or a Photojournalism conference in Omaha. So I picked Omaha, except that teh cranky old broad at the Economy Inn kept eagle eyes on the entrance and kept bothering us until the extra people left. So I drove home.

I hadn't driven in a while. Maybe it's the gas prices, maybe the sense of ecological obligation, maybe that I walk downtown and do most of my business here, or maybe just that my CD player got stolen last year and I never bothered to replace it. I felt oddly nervous just driving again, because I knew I was wasting money and because I wasn't sure how to explain why I was going to Omaha if I'd happened to have car trouble or something. But that made me think of just a few years ago, when I would've never given a second thought to paying for gas or driving all over creation. I, like everyone else, was entitled to.

We watched a film in enviro soc. about Holland's national green policies, which started in earnest when dead seals started washing up on the shore. You can't hide dead seals; the only things more heart-wrenching are terrible romantic comidies and handicapped children. We, however, hide our dirty laundry well, in other countries and in the poorer parts of our own. So although we know the sky is falling, we ripped down our rear-view mirrors so we don't have to watch it gaining on us.

It will catch us. And the longer we put it off, the worse it will be. What makes me curious it when it will snap. Excluding the slim possibility of sudden major change, our lives will be a lot different than our parents', and quite possibly a lot worse. Right now everyone is trying to pretend it's 1998 -- we can still have everything we want and have exactly the life we want and fill up without thinking about it. But at some point it's going to break -- when oil prices out the middle class, or when we just can't hide what we're doing anymore and get pissed off and actually take collective action.

I'm curious how this shall be. Ugly, most likely. If we weren't so adverse to working for the future, it might not be.

Mostly, I keep feeling like I'm taking it up the ass all the time. I come to school, the Huskers fall apart. I get ready to leave, they're improving. And if that's not enough, everybody before us has wrecked the earth and now we have to fix it, or die. If it didn't seem so bloody impossible and out of reach, it might be exciting. In any case, it's a calling-out to all the people who said the response to 9/11 would be our generation's great calling. What response? Going about our same bullshit with taller walls and more airport screeners? No, I'm afraid, the challenge to us is to work as a planet to fix the planet, because our kids won't have time.

And yet, part of me just wants to write great sarcastic fiction, scribbling and laughing while civilization burns.

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