Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Great Green Hope

As is typical of overeducated types like who share certain political, social, and religious views, I’m something of a cynic. I tend to think it’s uncool to be overly passionate about anything and usually affect something of an ironic detachment towards issues and causes that might draw others in. So, it’s always a bit of a surprise when I see someone speak or take in a performance that touches me in a completely unalloyed way; it’s unusual to not be one step removed from my own feelings, and although it would probably be tedious to be one of those terminally earnest types you see at political rallies and the like, it’s sort of refreshing as a change of pace.

All this because tonight I heard a lecture by this guy, Van Jones, from the Ella Baker Center in Oakland, CA, talk about what he calls “green collar jobs” and how the promise of meeting the challenge of global climate change has prospects for creating a society that is more just, equitable, and inclusive.

What really got me was his statement of the three principles that can motivate this movement to change the way we live and work: equal protection, equal opportunity, and equal participation. The first is about committing to an economy that protects the least well-off and ensures that disastrous responses to disasters like Hurricane Katrina are not repeated. The second is about making sure we don’t allow “eco-apartheid” to happen, where all the benefits of the green economy are enjoyed only by white folks. And the third refers to drawing upon our collective wisdom in developing solutions, not just listening to what self-designated experts have to say.

I had to pay Mimi a few bucks to hold out for the entire talk, but she did, and I came out wanting to do whatever I can to help realize the vision of a green wave that lifts all boats—and I’m hardly cynical about that at all.


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