These are the times that try an eco(luminist’s) soul, times that make pithy 400-word columns nearly impossible. Auntie Ruth, an Obama girl if ever there was one, was moved by the words, “At a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized—at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do—it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.”
However—within a week of this Obama speech in Tucson, Arizona—Sean Hannity, claiming gas prices are going up, up, up, coughed up this gem: “Why isn’t Iraq paying us back with oil? … Why didn’t they pay for their own liberation? … We have every right to go in there and, frankly, take all [Kuwait’s] oil and make them pay for their liberation.”
Go in there guns drawn, presumably; as if America is eager to fight another war there, the last invasion of Iraq having cost $3 trillion and nearly 4,500 American lives. As if the rise in oil prices isn’t inevitable. As if Hannity doesn’t already brag about flying on private planes and driving his SUV.
Centrists heal and deal; activists advocate and agitate. Preaching doesn’t help. Auntie has a friend on Facebook who loves to wag her finger and then point the way—but nobody’s listening. ’Twas ever thus—the smug change nothing. Attack the right? Easy enough—call your friends, get pissed off, post a link, feel better. Nothing’s different. Radicalize? Get arrested, chain yourself to a tree? Some say there’s no other way, yet that voice has usually been small, overwhelmed by all the noise in the middle.
“We are faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history. … Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: ‘Too late.’” That ain’t Al Gore talking about inconvenient truths. That’s Martin Luther King Jr., talking about war.
You can agitate from the eco-left, you can heal and deal from the center. Both are needed. It’s a profound dance as old as politics itself. Ruthie is feeling agitated. You? No? Yes? What now?