Thursday, September 8, 2011

Follow Your Nose

At 3:47 this morning I was startled from sleep by the stench of a skunk. I sprang out of bed, closed the bedroom windows and commanded the dogs to stay inside.

It didn't take long to figure out that the smell was not emanating from outside the house. Juni, our little Lab, had been sprayed again. I say again because this happens a couple times a year. It isn't that she isn't smart enough to avoid the encounters. Her eyesight is failing, resulting in her running right into trouble again and again. We'd remove the dog door and keep her inside all night, but her eyesight isn't the only part of her functioning that is failing.

So the stink wasn't outside. That changed everything. We threw all the windows open and used our favorite product, tecnu, to clean the dog as best we could at that hour.

Since I was awake anyway I just started my day early with a review of the news online. The dominant story was the GOP presidential candidates' debate. The parallel that occurs to me is not that these candidates are funky (true though that may be) but that the fashion of our day is to project the problems of our nation outside. It's immigrants. It's Islamic terrorism. It's European-style socialized medicine. It's a President from Kenya.

Truth is that our problems are not mostly external. Pogo had it right in 1970: "We have met the enemy and he is us."

We cherish our unsustainable lifestyles based on a growth centered economic model that is leading us to ruin. It's increasingly clear that a cataclysm is in our future. The big questions are when, how bad, and can we do anything to ameliorate the worst of its effects.

In this context denial is an understandable human impulse. Close the windows. Squint your eyes. Deny the science. 98% of climate scientists does not constitute a consensus. Carbon dioxide is a harmless gas.

Denial is an understandable human impulse, but it makes a poor leadership quality.

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