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On Deception, Spin, and Losing Our Way

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It's been well over a week since our little run in with the adviser to our president. I am just now processing all that took place during the last few days of the Stop Global Warming College tour and a few concerns still hang heavy on my mind and heart.

First, I am deeply concerned over where we are as a nation. We are so blessed to live in a country where we enjoy so many rights that other countries cannot even begin to imagine. However, what terrifies me is not what we are ignoring about the state of our planet but the fact that we seem to have lost touch with our connection to the earth. We have risen to great heights of arrogance in our refusal to acknowledge that the earth is changing. We hold steadfast to our belief that nothing can happen to us as a people. We get into our oversized, war-machine-like vehicles, get on our cell phones and blackberries, and avoid having human contact all day long.

What Laurie and I were proposing by encouraging every college student to change a light bulb was actually meant to be not only useful in the fight against global warming but also symbolic of a change in attitude. Clearly, the subject of global warming remains a partisan issue in the minds of many conservatives. It appears to me that many on the right want to see this as a liberal issue, as demonstrated in the continued debate, rather than accepting the peer-reviewed science that is so clearly laid out for us earthlings. I suppose after my encounter with Rove, I got a little taste of what it feels like to have dipped my thumb into the political pie for a brief moment, over what I failed to realize was still a political topic, or at least an insulting topic. I got my hand slapped, as if to say, "don't mess with the big boys, even on topics as humanitarian as global warming." Within hours, the climate certainly changed. It was me at the center of a storm-like spin. I have seen ranting political pundits work their spin before but, like most people, I have always tuned it out until it involved my reputation. It feels pretty scary to watch credible news outlets run with a story that is clearly not true, debate my patriotism over my alleged desire to have toilet paper legislated, and be the joke of late night TV monologues, all as a result of a 2 week old blog and nightly comedy routine that was spun as truth, instead of the joke it clearly was. What terrifies me the most is that we not only accept this of our journalists today but we are oblivious to it, and thus, oblivious to the damage it causes. When "news stories" are broken, do we not expect a certain amount of fact-checking or source-checking? One has to ask if this falls under the guise of sloppy reporting or deception as a source of spin. We seem to accept a certain amount of deception and we seem to be helpless to doing anything about it, as illustrated so clearly by where we are right now in this moment in history. (I'd like to thank Glenn Beck for his apology and his acknowledgment that he had reported my little toilet tissue sketch as real news).

Which brings me back to my original subject: the planet. Deeper than temperature and the extinction of the polar bear is the idea that we all share this beautiful, ailing planet, Democrats and Republicans alike. The lightbulb may be symbolic of a change in attitude but it is also illustrates a shift in consciousness. It is bound by the belief that perhaps what each of us does in our personal lives does truly affect another person's freedoms. If I drive a gas guzzling 12 cylinder vehicle knowing what I know now about carbon emissions and our dependence on foreign oil, I am basically saying that I don't care about the planet I leave behind for your or my kids.

I have been saying all along that this issue is deeper than recycling. It is more telling than unplugging gadgets not in use and not taking 35 minutes showers. It's about waking up. It's about understanding and embracing the fact that we don't own anything here. We are renters and that our lack of respect for the planet and the people inhabiting it will be the thing that takes us down, not simply the temperature or inevitable shortage of water.

The planet will live on in whatever state it is in, however, it is humanity that will suffer. And as I sit and wonder, like so many other people in this country, where are the marchers in the streets, where are the voices screaming for injustices to cease, for greed and apathy to let go of it's hold, I can only come up with one supposition: Perhaps we have lost our sense of who we were born to be and instead, are numbed out beyond recognition by the ceaseless chatter that is the soundtrack to our lives.

It is my truest fear that we are losing our way. Every night on the stop global warming college tour, Laurie and I would tell these great young people that they have the power to do anything they want. That we all have the power to create a movement for change. That the best part of ourselves is the part that rises up instinctively from compassion. I believe this to be true. I believe that divinity exists in all of us and that if we eliminate some of the chatter in our lives, the voice of compassion will have a chance to be heard. And, if we were to act from a place of compassion in every act of our lives, would we be arguing about whether global warming exists? Or would we simply be living our lives peacefully knowing that how we live will affect the planet we leave for our children and for their children. If compassion was the motivating factor behind all of our decisions, would our world not be a completely different place? Food for thought.