Too Busy to Care
Nero was a Roman emperor famous for his memorable act of fiddling while the capital of his empire burned in the Great Fire of Rome. The emperor himself is suspected of having caused the fire in order to clear land for the vast palace he had planned for himself. Nero did not come to a peaceful end, and with him ended his dynasty.
Today we have about 7 billion Neros all fiddling away while the planet burns. Mind, these are all responsible, hard-working people; they are family people. And still they fiddle, not out of lust for land like their Roman counterpart, but out of sheer ignorance. They do not see, though acrid smoke is filling the vast sky from horizon to horizon, they do not recognize that their home planet is burning, and with it, the future promise of their future generations.
Today's Neros are all innocent. They are not cunning like the emperor. We may say their representatives in government are innocent too. Everyone is earning their living as best they can, even though some make their living by questioning the reality and the urgency of the situation. And everyone is terribly, terribly busy...
My government, my prime minister, today is terribly busy fanning the flames of our global calamity. In the name of jobs, in the name of the economy, he touts the virtues of the biggest, dirtiest industrial project on Earth while he muzzles the Canadian scientific community. This dirty oil project has been described in apocalyptic terms by those who have seen it. Apocalypse now – in Alberta.
I don't want to blame anyone. I don't want to point fingers. Everyone has their job to do, their constituents to represent, their industries to lobby for. I just want all of us Neros to wake up to the reality of the situation and, each of us, take some meaningful action.
This is not an easy struggle to reverse the flames of destruction. It is like the second world war in Canada. Everyone had to make some meaningful sacrifices – but this time, the front lines are not overseas. They are right here at home – and everywhere else as well.
If survivors of the second war had to do with margarine instead of butter, and with rationing of gasoline, perhaps we can be vegan a couple of days a week and leave the car at home more often. Maybe we can get a smaller house that takes less energy to heat and cool. Maybe we can live closer to work and the people we love and care for most. Maybe we can meditate more (for the peace inside) and go on less vacations in exotic places. Maybe we can grow a little something edible in the backyard or in a flower box on the balcony.
A war is not won by force of arms alone and it is not lost on the battlefield. It is the people that matter foremost, the spirit and strength of the people, and their understanding and willingness to sacrifice for the chosen end, their common victory.
We don't need another shopping mall. We don't need another video game. We don't need another fashion show or a fancy meal or an inauguration of another president or prime minister or pope.
We need to pool our efforts, to share our ideas and inspirations. We need to work together and if our elected representatives continue to fail us, we need to take the lead and work around them until they come around. The best scientific minds on the planet have spoken in the Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change. With every-increasing certainty, they have now established with 95-100% probability that we have started the problem and that we, too, can reverse it, and the sooner we start, the better. It is time to put the fiddles down and get to work.