I have mentioned before how, although I am really happy here in Karlskrona, I feel torn regarding the actual content of the program I am studying. The Natural Step is a good thing (compared to bad things), no doubt about it, but I am torn because I feel it doesn't go far enough. It's goal seems to be to build a sustainable world... as long as it looks a lot like the one we live in today. For example, there is rarely discussion about what I feel are the two most important issues when discussing sustainability. 1. There are just too many people. and 2. Those of us in the wealthy nations have abhorrent consumption habits.
There is often talk of achieving a sustainable society without sacrifice. I just don't buy it. Even if Ikea (the Natural Step's golden lover) makes a "more sustainable" lamp, there is no way that it can be sustainable considering our current consumption habits... it's even worse considering that there are billions of people waiting to buy the lamp. We have to sacrifice. There is no other way.
I do believe however that if we change our mind-set, so that some of what would be considered a sacrifice to us now, is recognized as an improvement in well-being, even though the actions may be the same, the "sacrifice" is less. But even then...
The reason I bring this up has to do with something we were discussing in class today, but also because I just heard a song, "John John" by Nellie McKay (I'm in love with her) written especially for NPR this year. The song is about how she is torn between her true beliefs about what is best, and realization that the current reality requires her to forsake that belief.
ralph's the one I love
but I must live with john john till november
I feel the same as her regarding Ralph and John John, but also regarding The Natural Step. I realize that TNS does not go far enough, not willing to tell people. "Hey you have to change your habits. You have to sacrifice".
I have met so many people that are for Nader, but will not vote for him because they are so terrified of Bush, that I can't help but wonder if it might not have a greater impact for all Nader supporters to vote for him (I think there are a lot more than I imagine) even though it would give the election to Bush. What kind of a message would it send? And what kind of a message does it send to settle for Kerry? Voting for Kerry might help him to win, making things a little better in the short term, but in the long run does it just further entrenches the problems?
Likewise, perhaps advocating for radical change of lifestyles and consumption practices is too radical to lead to such change, but deciding to go the middle route, promoting the idea of "sustainability without sacrifice" will help more people to climb aboard, and lead to quicker change toward short-term improvements. The problem is of course, that promoting "no sacrifice" does little to change the root of the problem. In fact, it reenforces it.
In the end, I guess I will vote for Kerry, and I will probably promote a watered down vision of a sustainable future. And I become just as much a cog in the machine that keeps us on track toward the status quo and a systematic degradation in the quality of life for us and all future generations... at least it is only for as long as the earth can support future generations.
So that's just what I was thinking about.... that and I was thinking how cool it would be if Nellie McKay came here to give a concert, and somehow we met and she fell in love with me like in some movie...
NPR: Nellie McKay, Live in Studio 4A
Singer-songwriter Nellie McKay, 19, has been compared to both Doris Day and Eminem. And throw in a bit of Billie Holiday for good measure. Her debut CD, Get Away From Me, includes jazz, rap, blues, Latin, rock and more, reflecting her eclectic life -- she was born in London and grew up in Harlem.
There's a definite air of confidence in her songs, which she attributes to the social tensions of growing up. "You know, if I can survive marching band, I can survive anything," she tells NPR's Bob Edwards during a performance chat in Studio 4A.
You can check out two of her songs in full leangth on All Songs Considered. The difference in style between these two songs alone goes a long way to illustrate her originality and flexibility.
- Wont You Please Be Nice To Me? (second segment from the top)
- Sari (first segment of the show)
You can of course listen to snippets from all songs on the album at the iTunes shop, and if you don't have iTunes, you can hear snippets at her web-site, including my favorite Ding Dong