On “No Deadline”

On “No Deadline”
by The Ox (Richard Martin Oxman)

This article, as I point out at the end, was inspired by a youngster. That’s with regard to beginning the piece. As far as completing it goes, I should note that reading Matt Gonzalez’ “Remembering Peter Camejo” (http://asitoughttobe.wordpress.com/2009/09/14/peter-camejo/) helped me to finish what I started. That is because his beautiful tribute reminded me of how many Great Hearts are not acknowledging what’s changed… in terms of the time left for us. One must at least ask the question: If “Lula” were starting from a marginalized position today, would he have two decades to begin making strides?

To think so would be tantamount to believing that Leonard Peltier can hope that he might secure his freedom… twenty years from now.

People act as if we don’t have a deadlines. But we do, both individual and global. Very serious ones.

But there are too many issues. Citizens are paralyzed, not knowing where to begin… even if they are motivated to change things. Most aren’t, and — for what it’s worth — I understand.

Some can muster up enough blood to vote, but very few. And, then, they simply hope that someone else will take care of things while they see to the most immediate pressing simple matters in their own personal lives. Moving in solidarity is not even on the table for consideration. Except among a very small percentage who consider themselves activists. And those socially-concerned citizens, for the most part, are locked into going over old ineffective ground, trying to make a difference employing paradigms which have long ago proven to be insufficient at best. Like gathering signatures (exclusively).

It’s a mess. And it’s a mess in the midst of EMERGENCIES. Aside from the obvious issues of paramount importance, like jobs and health care (with deadlines like paying the rent), there are the lesser acknowledged crises… like our water becoming increasingly toxic and nuclear-related matters getting insanely out of hand (See http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/22585 for a stunning take on the latter issue.). And, of course, there are many — too many — others driving us up the wall. A lot with URGENT stamped all over them.

The upcoming meeting in Copenhagen is slated to be a failure. The world’s nations are NOT going to come up with the unprecedented agreements which Ban Ki-moon says are necessary for us to avoid catastrophe vis-a-vis climate change. We can only pray that the Secretary-General of the U.N. is wrong about the date of our deadline. If we have a little more time than he suggests to deal with our horrid momentum (like two years more), TOSCA (http://oxtogrind.org/archive/364) might prove to be worthy of your heartbeats, your attention.

First, the country needs a shock. A 9/11-level type shock that will give one and all a shot at coming to our collective senses. Give citizens an opportunity to move in meaningful solidarity… so that things can improve in time. So that life remains worth living.

The 9/11/01 9/11* gave us an opportunity to transform ourselves, to look into ourselves, and change for the better, but, instead, it arguably brought out the worst in us, making matters worse on several counts worldwide. A dynamic which is still in process. There have been comparable environmental “heads up” courtesy calls from Mother Nature which have gone unheeded too.

*You do know about 9/11/73, yes? If not, please see Chomsky’s quote at the beginning of http://oxtogrind.org/archive/390. It’s essential to know what happened on that date AND WHY, if one is to become motivated — and stay so — respecting TOSCA. And for other reasons. I do not mean to be disrespectful here.

The SHOCK that TOSCA can provide is to legally and non-violently “take over” the State of California. Without any money… on a zero budget. Got your attention? Well, success with those means would get the attention of all citizens in California, and create historic waves not only throughout the nation, but worldwide. Already, enough high profile figures worldwide have endorsed it… so that you don’t have to prematurely dismiss it as pie in the sky, impossible, impractical… and so on.

Those who’ve placed their imprimaturs on our Impossible Dream include Howard Zinn (U.S.), Gustavo Esteva (Mexico), Henry Giroux (Canada), Marie Trigona (Argentina), Devinder Sharma (India), Afshin Rattansi (Iran); a short list of “supporters” can be found at http://oxtogrind.org/archive/336.

What would we do if we “took over” the state? In a fanciful treatment of our Don Quixote scenario, I’ve delineated what the first seven days might be like at http://oxtogrind.org/archive/385. One young local fellow criticized that piece, saying that it showed TOSCA to be “all over the place.” Well, for me, that’s understandable. We’re going to have to be “all over the place” in order to deal with the multiple crises that face us all simultaneously. We can’t afford the luxury of only addressing what a given organization has chosen for its raison d’etre. There’s not time for beautiful individual seeds to blossom sufficiently to ward off catastrophe respecting the Big Picture.

TOSCA intends to pull in everyone
— out of their gorgeous corners momentarily — for action together. For if we keep plastic from totally taking over the Pacific Ocean, it won’t do enough good if we don’t simultaneously ensure that we have habitable air to breathe at home. And so on… on too many fronts to delineate here.

That said, permit me to give one very clear example of the need to move in solidarity
locally, regionally, nationally and internationally… regardless of how much pleasure and success one is getting from inroads made in particular realms. The example is in boldface below for emphasis.

In Santa Cruz, California, city residents are well on their way to shrinking their carbon footprint to a size not seen in 20 years. Since 1996 they have reduced the amount of carbon dioxide pollution they create annually by more than 100,000 tons, from 455,187 tons in 1996 to 344,230 tons in 2008, according to city officials. And their Climate Change Coordinator said he expects the shrinkage to continue, with a goal of 263,217 tons of emissions released annually by 2020.

Yep, they’re nothing if not conservation-minded, those Santa Cruz citizens. And they’re (understandably) congratulating themselves all over town… with talk about the necessity of solar panels, energy-efficient appliances and flourescent home light bulbs going head to head as top conversation topics with heady stuff like The Foul-Mouth of Venus Williams and the latest surf report.

But reducing carbon dioxide in local municipal, residential, commercial/industrial, transportation and water realms is pathetically insufficient in terms of Big Picture Deadlines. (1) Consumerism is more and more local these days, but Consumerism is not down. The Santa Cruz city dump has dropped its emissions by 34 percent, with residents diverting 61 percent of their trash to recycling, but Consumerism is not down. And other towns nearby are not accomplishing anything vis-a-vis emissions which calls for self-congratulation. Which means the (present) decent air quality of Santa Cruz is slated to deteriorate, for sure. [Pause.] And since Consumerism is not down, and the sale of automobiles is still being encouraged on several fronts… we can count on increased emissions.

Creating jobs locally to keep down the traffic flow in and out of Santa Cruz is admirable, and should be applauded. However, one has to be totally devoid of imagination to not see how transportation emissions everywhere are destined to increase at an astronomic rate (2), much too much too soon for anyone to entertain the idea of meeting Ban Ki-moon’s uncontroversial statement about our DEADLINE.

Just as the amount of potable water is disappearing regionally, building a situation whereby Santa Cruz is likely to be overrun in the future — as people were during the 19th-century Gold Rush — by citizens who do not live in Santa Cruz County, the toxicity of local groundwater is on the rise. Both of these dilemmas are relatively unacknowledged by local citizens who are preoccupied with their success.

Santa Cruz residents are very proud of the fact that they are in line with emission reduction goals set in the Kyoto Protocol of 2007, and with State Assembly Bill 32 passed by the Legislature two years ago… but… but… but… according to Ban Ki-moon those standards are way too… unambitious. Someone needs to quiet down the self-congratulations, and bring those residents up to speed, as they say. (3)

That may sound disrespectful, unappreciative, but… we’re talking about survival here. EVERYONE, including the well-intentioned, well-educated, accomplished souls of Santa Cruz, could use a 9/11-level type SHOCK.

Enter TOSCA.

There’s a local 19-year-old who kind of inspired this piece. He’s the co-founder of a wonderful local project to get SCruz residents to take their money out of Bank of America, and put their bucks into local banks. To help the local economy, and to do what they can to drain BoA of funds… so that they can’t fund environmentally damaging projects worldwide.

I was scheduled to meet with him, and, then, I believe he read my “The Governor of California as God” article http://oxtogrind.org/archive/385… and he backed off. I was “all over the place,” he said. Besides, he realized, he said, that he had deadlines for school. He was preparing to return to GAIA University, a very politically corrrect/environmentally correct institution in Tennessee… and he had… deadlines. What could I say? He had read some of my more extreme writing before first being eased into my radical blah blah. He needed more nurturing, but… I had lost him. I lost a lot of sleep over that.

I understand about individual deadlines. The thing is… EVERYONE, including that young boy (4), needs OUR GOVERNOR of California to SHOCK them into acknowledging what mutual DEADLINES we have, and how to go about meeting them.

Richard welcomes feedback at TOSCA.2010[ATATATATATATAT]YAHOO.COM


(1) “If we don’t come to an agreement in Copenhagen in December, it’s all over.” — Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the U.N.
(2) Santa Cruz itself has a transportation weakness, residents emitting over 40,000 tons, or 13 percent more now than than they did in 1996.
(3) One can confirm the facts in boldface with Genevieve Bookwalter of the Santa Cruz Sentinel because I plagiarized a helluva lot of her material from her September 14, 2009 “City Shrinks Carbon Footprint” piece.
(4) One of my sons (Aja) is a surfer dude in Hawaii. He’s one of the sweetest creatures on earth, and I know that he loves and respects me. He’s in touch with the oceans, and he certainly has reason to be responsive to the cries of the watery depths. But the minute one mentions ANYTHING related to politics, he blocks. I consider that a sign of health as a rule. However, considering our DEADLINES… I do believe he needs a SHOCK. I can’t do it for him, but I am certain that OUR GOVERNOR of California could turn his head… just long enough to give him and his oceans a shot.