Jeffrey Reel : Resistance to Change

Apr 20, 2014

Why are we not fully embracing, and running with, clean, renewable technologies? One reason is because of white fogies like me. Let me explain.

Let’s start with a quiz:  Can you identify the following country?  It must satisfy all of the following criteria:

1.  It is the world’s leading manufacturer, and exporter, of airplanes, automobiles, appliances, weapons and steel.

2.  It not only produces enough oil to satisfy all of its own energy needs, it produces enough for export. In fact, it is the world’s leading exporter of oil, and this country alone determines the price of oil on the world market. (Now it’s beginning to sound fictitious, but it’s not.)

3.  And finally, this country is not only a creditor nation, it is the world’s leading creditor nation.

It is, in a sense, a trick question, because what country today can boast of such sweeping economic power?  The answer, though, is: the United States, from the early 1950s through the mid-1960s (just before we lost ourselves financially and morally in Viet Nam).

Many people of my generation and older directly experienced that part of American history. And many of us (all actively voting and determining the policy decisions of our representatives) are nostalgic for those times, which were also far simpler and more innocent (you know, when abortions took place in back rooms, gays remained respectfully closeted, and television shows like Amos ‘n’ Andy showed us just how happy blacks were living as second-class citizens).

Many members of my generation and older – that is, those who for the most part embrace the platform of the Tea Party – wish to return to those days of American supremacy, and who can blame them? Those were, after all, heady times. And they feel threatened that people like me wish to steal their version of The American Dream. And they would be correct in that assumption, because the Tea Party is the party of nostalgia, and they are forever looking back over their shoulders while evolution is unyielding in its progression through time.

But there is a new version of The American Dream, one that shares economic and social justice with people throughout the world, and one that embraces renewable technologies that will not only create a wealth of new jobs but entirely new industries and exports and will, at the same time, reverse the decades-long destruction of our soil, water, air, food, and personal health, which will reduce health care costs and improve over-all quality of life while curbing the emissions that have given rise to global warming and climate change, which, in turn – as the Pentagon points out – will strengthen national security.

And the beauty of this is that a plurality of environmental, social and physical ills will respond favorably to the same corrective measures. It’s an American Renaissance and it waits only for our collective will to express itself socially and politically. It’s a gift – compliments of evolution – and one that we have yet to accept.

Many of the ideas continuing to protect 19th-century antiquated technologies will die out along with the present generation that clings to them, but we don’t have that luxury of time. As Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn observed: “We are the first generation to discover climate change, and the last generation who can do anything about it.”