The Drama-lessness of Climate Change,
And my country’s addiction to distraction.
Sometimes I wear my American-ness like I wore my development at the onset of puberty. I hunched down as low as I could to escape the notice of prying eyes sweeping a slow gaze over my body. “People are so weird,” I thought. Now, I understand. I remember how that felt and it’s how I feel now when I think about how the rest of the world must see us. I wish we were invisible sometimes.
America loves drama. I mean, we LOVE drama. We live for the the good guy vs. bad guy narrative to the point where it pretty much colors everything about us. Our politics - terrorists, China and Russia are the biggest villains at the moment. One of our nominees for president is a literal villain.
It’s in business — we have mini wars with each other over brands.
It’s in our music, our celebrities have beefs with each other (probably for the sake of the public gaze 99.9% of the time, I would guess most of these people are cordial when nobody’s looking).
Professional sports is the among the most lucrative American businesses to be in.
Don’t get me started on reality TV— we have wars between shows over who has the best wars between characters.
We have producers producing conflict because that is what brings eyeballs to the screens.
Our media does it as well, there’s nothing like a good fight that gets people watching. If it bleeds, it leads and where there is blood, there is a conflict. And conflict means drama! And drama means money!
We have a competitive show called “The Biggest Loser” (think on that for a minute).
Our economy demands competitive drama, it cannot function without it. If America is not competing, America is not breathing. We do this because it pays. It works.
Or does it?
We are literally competing ourselves into extinction.
One of the reasons we do so little about climate change is because so few pay attention to it. Most of us are at least marginally concerned but not enough to kick our own asses into gear. There is no villain, there is no drama, there is no urgency. Well, there will be, but by then, it will be too late. We have villains in our polluters but, if we are being honest, every one of us is a polluter and nobody is going to tear themselves away from the latest fight on TV to think about that. Are you kidding? Self-reflection? LOL! Move, you’re blocking the game.
Now, I am the least perfect example of American eco-awareness and activism. I do what I can but I use the A/C when my eyes are melting out of my face (I get migraines from the heat), I don’t always go with the greenest option (only when I can afford the extra expense), and I am not the best example of an eco-warrior. I am a terrible example, if I am being honest, and I am only marginally better than the average American. I admit that. But that’s kind of my point.
Climate change keeps me awake some nights. I worry for our planet and our future but I feel so powerless to do anything about it. If I, someone that actually puts some thought into it, cannot manage it. Who can?
We cannot declare war on climate change, it is inherently interconnected. The causes and solutions require co-operation. If our opponent loses, we lose too. America doesn’t know what to do with this! It’s an utterly foreign concept.
I love America, really, I do. I love my country but sometimes, my country is like that embarrassing dad doing his best Tony Manero dancing — pointing included. It’s “OMG, Daaaaad! Please stop.” (You really must watch to the end — I apologize in advance. Soul Train did it better ).
We still love dear old Dad, of course. But I wish America would stop dancing and start paying attention to something other than the latest bloodshed on television. We cannot deal with the urgency of climate change as a separated people in competition with one another, we can only do it together.