In the Power of Myth Joseph Campbell quoted Chief Seattle of the Duwamish people of the Northwest, “Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.” Should this idea hold any relevance 120 years later? I believe that each one of us is here for a reason with our actions and decisions affecting this web of life; not only are these words pertinent for today, they should be our modern day touchstone.
No longer are we nations unto ourselves living isolated from the global community. Every choice we make today will have consequences in the not to distant future, from choosing the vehicles we drive, to the foods we eat, to whether we recycle or not. Choices made by our ancestors are now impacting us. The invention of the car and other modern day conveniences and our dependence upon them are depleting natural resources and poisoning the atmosphere.
These choices are reverberating around the world. Global warming inflicted on Mother Earth from carbon dioxide produced by the world’s cars and power plants are melting the polar ice caps that will lead to flooding and will change weather patterns increasing the likely hood of droughts worldwide. Droughts and the resulting famines that will happen in the poorest of countries who are ill equipped to manage these enormous issues, creating an even larger schism between the have and the have-nots. This separation can create a kind of global economic warfare where the have-nots will do whatever to improve their standard of living.
The current American way of life has set this scene of chaos; but America’s capitalistic system is also the best suited to develop new fuel technologies. Unfortunately, America is not leading in this new revolution either by action or example. Our government has been slow to respond to what is now viewed as a major global issue. Why? Our democratic process has been hijacked by corporate lobbyists including, but certainly not limited to, oil and gas, mining, and power plant interests with one goal in mind, their own bottom line. This bottom line mentality holds no respect for global warming, droughts or famines, welfare of the American citizen or benefits to the web of life.
If the American government is incapable or too antiquated to lead the world in researching new technologies to replace outdated fossil fuel systems then it is time for individual Americans to fill this political vacuum. All that is needed is one individual thinking outside the box and wondering “what if.” “What if” questions are infectious and who knows where they will lead. I believe that by holding respect for ourselves and the others with whom we share this planet we can find solutions that will benefit the web of life.
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