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Apocology Post: Responding to Transgression

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

Here’s the problem: we have developed, over the last fifty years, a belief that we can transgress with impunity.

We can transgress countries (viz. Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and countless minor incursions in between). We can transgress economies (viz. the World Bank, the IMF, the overdevelopment industry [see Confessions of an Economic Hit Man], and countless economic incursions). We can transgress privacy (viz. the credit system, “homeland security,” and grocery-store cards that give us a discount so they can track our every purchase).

We can transgress science (viz. the well-financed “oh gosh there’s doubt” about climate impacts of massive output of CO2, when there was little real doubt among real scientists). We can transgress representative government (viz. the bush administration’s executive hegemony, over the last six years).

But worst of all is that for fifty years and more — one could argue that it’s built into our DNA — we have believed that we could transgress Nature with impunity.

What I’ve been seeing, over the last few months of attending to the Apoc scenarios, to distill it for this site, has truly terrified me. We have imagined that we were kings of the world. We have imagined that we could do no wrong, that any business was good business, that the world would take whatever we could mete out.

We were wrong. We should have known better, but of course we didn’t want to know.

It’s been fun, these last decades. I’ve just turned 50, and have had five decades of relative opulance and luxury. We didn’t have to worry about carbon footprints, or climate collapse. We didn’t have to think about what we were doing to the rainforests by eating a Big Mac. We didn’t have to wonder if there’d be wildflowers, much less most grocery produce, in five years, if the bees die off.

We didn’t worry about the pthalates in plastic. About dead zones. About ocean acidification. About mercury in what fish are left. About untethered genetic modification for profit.

All we had to worry about was nuclear war, which was just a rumble in the distance.

We are now facing facts that make it clear that, to have a viable civilization in fifteen years, we have to make radical change, faster than any of us want.

We are stuck with this. We, my generation and all above and below it, must recognize that a dramatic restructuring of priorities, and of our willingness to transgress, is required. That’s a lot of what the PostApocology site is about — trying to make it clear how far we’ve transgressed, in so many ways.

If we don’t make dramatic change, then we will be restructured anyway, just less orderly, and with more violence.

Because the shit will hit the fan. Our transgressions have caught up with us. We have to start shifting today, if we are to have any hope of having a good tomorrow.