Thursday, April 27, 2017

Earth Day, Requiescat in Pace

Let’s kill Earth Day.

The kill doesn’t have to be violent. A few means of termination come to mind immediately: a fatal dose of unctuousness with a dollop of messianic fervor; toxic buildup of evangelical environmentalism; or suffocation by smugness.

Let me know if you have some other methods of moral euthanasia you can summon to the cause.

(There. I feel better already now that I’ve exhaled and typed this long-overdue death sentence.)

“Oh,” you protest. “How could you? How can you be so cruel and callous toward Mother Earth? We have no Planet B, you know.”

Spare me.

My coveted role as judge, jury, and executioner has nothing whatsoever to do with Mother Earth, climate change, global warming, denialism, science or anti-science, or political correctness or impolitic incorrectness. And lest you think my words are a sly endorsement of our Not My President (NMP), you can forget that. I condemn and abhor NMP’s choice to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and NMP’s proposed budgetary slashes and rollbacks of environmental initiatives of the last several decades.

No, my gripe goes like this: Earth Day is a feckless, feel-good escape, a chance to feel environmentally holy. Sure, many of the priests and priestesses of this secular religion practice their rituals the other 364 days of the year. But the annual cleanup rites typically take place around Earth Day. Earth Day incarnates a branding that has become tired, ungreen, and more harmful than helpful. It’s not, um, sustainable. Earth Day is not unlike waltzing to the soup kitchen on Thanksgiving and handing out turkeys. Good for one day, maybe even a week. What has changed? Not much. But nothing bad happened either, etc.

What about those cleanups? Don’t they make you feel grand? Is it the same feeling of sanctity and squeaky-clean absolution I felt as a teenager after going to Confession, with all my impure thoughts scrubbed off my soul for all eternity?

And what about these armies of the day making the world safe for carbon footprints? Picture legions of students or retirees, civic leaders and teachers, work gloves and trash bags in hand, whisked in from their pristine golf-course-riddled suburbs to save the unwashed urban masses from themselves.

How can we ever thank you? How can we ever thank you enough?

For the record, I hate litter. It is contemptuous of civil order, an act of apparent self-loathing and belligerent degradation. Or maybe littering is simply callous solipsism. I cannot claim to fathom its sociological origins or its embrace of cavalier negligence. I’ll leave that to sociologists. But I have a perverse fantasy. During one of these jaunty, community-spirited Earth Day cleanups, I crave for the volunteers to encounter directly a besmirching of the aforementioned civil order. I want the corps of cleaners to see a pizza box or overpackaged burger and fries go flying out a car window, with an added toss of soda-fountain beverage containers, extra large, with straws, napkins, and plastic bags sailing down the boulevard. I crave for the perps and the enforcers to meet head-on. Have at it, boys and girls. Send me a transcript of your friendly dialogue.

Maybe you’ll have better luck than I do. (I may meet my demise one day via one of these uncivil encounters.)

You say Earth Day is about more than Saturday-morning community service cleanups? True, true. I cannot argue with you on that. You won’t get me to condemn tree or flower plantings, or springtime prunings or fertilizations. I can see such acts as commensurate with tender memorial tree plantings honoring deceased loved ones.

As for the deceased? Add Earth Day to the rolls. Rest in peace.

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