Re-greening America

An errand pulled me away from grading and into the vicinity of the huge new McKay’s used book & music emporium yesterday. Of course I had to go in. “Free will”? Ha!

And look what I found for a nickel.

 This will be the place to begin Environmental Ethics in the Fall, with our focus on what ever happened to the activist passion of the first Earth Day. Yale law prof Reich’s bestseller was the hippy-trippy manifesto that launched a thousand protest demonstrations on behalf of Mother Earth over forty years ago, and raised the consciousness of a fraction of a generation for at least a short while. Reich, looking back recently, explained its improbable impact this way:

It gave people a great leap of hope, made people feel good. This was a world that could get better, a whole lot better. I might say to those who stuck with it in some way or other they will still swear by the values of the ’60s.

And what’s changed?

What is lacking today is that people are not in any way experimenting with a different way to live, a different way to feel, a different way to be.

I think he’s right. We need to experiment with alternative energy, alternative transportation, alternative jobs, and especially an alternative sensibility about how it might be possible to live sustainably for a long time on a crowded but healthily bio-diverse planet.

Will we ever get back to the giddy greenery of the ’60s? Not sure we want to. But books like Blessed Unrest and Rebuild the Dream point an experimental way forward, possibly even a “movement.” We’ll be reading and discussing (and acting on?) them both in our course. And other things too. Stay tuned.

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