Soul/Self Care—USA Exceptionalism as Planetary Emergency  5/15/20


My last email/blog invited reflection on Michael Moore’s new movie “Planet of the Humans.” https://1040forpeace.org/soul-self-care-planetary-emergency/  That movie has proven to be intensely controversial in the environmental/green community, largely because it offers criticisms of some of the broad strokes and hopes of the efforts of the environmental movement to date.  


We all want hope, and are instinctively critical of voices which question, or seem to question, particular sources of our chosen reasons for hope.  So far so good.


But at some point it becomes necessary to ask whether our hopes are well placed and based on something better than wishful thinking and optimism fueled by ignorance more than awareness.


Responding to criticism he received, Moore wrote: “Yes, we are in a serious, multi-level planetary emergency – and it involves climate, water, food, topsoil, overconsumption, missing species, ocean life and humans. Mostly humans, and our various nonsensical greed-induced behaviors and systems.”  https://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/62782-we-are-in-a-planetary-emergency


Today I want to suggest that for the betterment of our own selves (soul care) citizens of the USA would do well to reflect on what Moore called “our various nonsensical greed-induced behaviors and systems.”  This, he says, is the MOSTLY feature of the multi-level planetary emergency.  I’m not sure that I see his critics honing in on this challenge, but I am watching for that.


If you wanted to name the thing that best defines American “exceptionalism,” might it be an unwavering commitment to our various greed-induced behaviors and systems?  Yes, I acknowledge that patriots, politicians and political theorists who use the word “exceptional” to define the essence of the USA mean some kind of divinely appointed global mission and/or infallible spirit of benevolence in our national character, but I’m challenging that idea of American exceptionalism and suggesting instead the one named here by Michael Moore.  


This becomes a call to quit measuring our needs by our greeds, and it is addressed to all USA Americans whose lifestyle is already more than adequate (which is tens of millions), and not to America’s oppressed poor and disenfranchised. Overconsumption is not the problem of everyone in the USA or any country of the world, but it is the problem of those who think they run the country and the world, so let’s address it.  


This old pandemic of greed and consumption has brought the planet to the brink of destruction—for all we know, maybe over the brink, but for now let’s still give ourselves the benefit of the doubt and say that maybe something can be done about it.


But what?  You will ask, but what?


People say, “Well, we’d fix our more-than-four-months-old pandemics of predatory consumerist capitalism, fascist homeland security politics, and delusional global militarism if we knew what to do about them.”  Would we really?


I’m not so sure about that, but I am pretty sure that if we thought that our various nonsensical greed-induced behaviors and systems were the biggest cause of the global crisis, we would be obsessing with the question of what should be done about those in a manner not too different from our obsession with what to do about COVID-19.