A remarkable letter was sent out over the weekend, from the heads of Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network, and Bill McKibben of 350.org. The letter asked for new activist ideas in this time of earth emergency, and asked for a world-wide "work party" on 10/10/10. (We are joining that party, as part of our worship-show that Sunday at the Highline Ballroom in NYC.)
This letter: intriguing. They say it straighter than NGO-people usually do: "We're not going to beat the corporations by acting nicely." They see paralysis. The letter paints a picture of a species unable to cope with its own dysfunction, on a global and apocalyptic scale. Of course they cite the bible-like disasters, Chinese mudslides, Russian fires and Pakistani floods. I got a bone-chilling feeling from "The U. S. Senate decided to keep intact its 20-year bipartisan record of doing nothing about global warming."
And the letter concludes by - surprise! - not being a fundraising appeal. It asks for... creativity. Creativity? These leaders want new ideas for Earth defense. So the major emotions of this communication go from anger, to a rousing call to work, to a request that we find the courage and art of a new radical act.
My first thought this morning is that September 11th needs to be dealt with in an honest way. There is something about the mass self-hypnosis by this bombing at the heart of Wall Street that hurts our ability to create. Our official American response, you remember, was: 1) Go shopping and 2) Go to war. By avoiding the question of whether Wall Street might have brought this crime on itself by its aggressions across the world - oh can't even ask THAT question - we congealed into sentimental patriotism. Wall Street ended up victimizing millions of us, and in our recession of money, of emotion, and of creativity, we're unable to act - while the Earth feverishly DOES act. Oh, the Earth is being VERY creative. Earth-a-lujah!
Thinking that a whole system is wrong has been beyond America's creativity for a long time, but it is not beyond the Earth's. To actually oppose corporate capitalism we would have to find in ourselves the kind of radical American character that founded this country in the first place, when we faced the awe-inspiring British Empire.
People who love the Earth and want to save it have been maneuvered into a box since 9/11. We haven't stopped shopping and warring, so it's "ethical shopping," and a "draw-down" of troops. We need to attack corporate gradualism and its holy of holies - never-ending expansion. This absurd idea has morphed into the average American's idea of Democracy and Freedom, and this claim pounds into our senses in thousands of marketing events every day.
The Earth is our leader. Can we be the cultural equivalent of the flood and the fire? The Life After Shopping Church will concentrate its worship in the lobbies of banks that finance mountaintop removal, the UBS Bank from Switzerland, and PNC from Pennsylvania.