The Journal Gazette
Friday, July 19, 2019 1:00 am

We're all in this together, and it's the only way we'll get out

Francis Frellick

Increasing attention is being focused on the approaching selection of new political leadership and fresh legislative representation for our nation.

Indiana's representative for 34 years in the U.S. House, Lee Hamilton, recently observed, “The very day a legislator now takes office, he/she begins the campaign for his/her reelection.” If that's so, such a commitment is bound to color the involvements and actions of that person throughout the ensuing term.

There's certainly widespread dissatisfaction today with the failure of many of our current legislative leaders to act at all. Partisan wrangling has effectively tied the hands of our selected leaders –  federal, state and local.

Calls urging us to “Throw the bums out!” and “Put more of our people in there and we'll get something done!” are common. If only “they” would get out of their own way (or out of ours), we might get some things done. As it is, too often, our personal concerns usually boil down to repeated, private complaints.

Very little is being accomplished, and consequently we remain stuck in this quagmire.

Here's a thought: What if our leaders at all levels were to confront us with the old schoolyard challenge: “ What are you going to do about it?” and with it, the implicit warning: “Put up or shut up!”

Do you know why major car dealerships usually don't put their high-mileage hybrids on display in their showrooms? It's because their larger, more expensive models sell better, and each one brings in far more cash. And that tells us that you and I are too much in love with bigger, sleeker and faster gas guzzlers.

We are quite willing to lay out the extra dollars they cost, all the while ignoring our growing contributions to the pollution of the air we all breathe.

Do you know why we're so far behind the minimal climate investments we should now be making if we want to preserve a livable world for our children and their children? It's because we've not yet been ready to curb our own ravenous appetites for far more food, fuel, potable water, clothes and playthings than we need. (Just mention that problem to a downsizing senior couple about to move into smaller quarters!)

It's regrettable that polar bears, turtles and elephants are dying out. That's really too bad, but that's not our main concern, and anyway we're not about to agree that this is partly our fault.

Besides, we haven't seen any recognizable evidence for what these scientists are all claiming. You know, we're the ones who might have to give up our favorite getaway place at the lake, or sink big dollars of our taxes for some kind of wall to protect us from all those who are supposed to be trying to invade our country. Let's not jump overboard just because a few scientists are scared about our future. Plain and simple, we already have more on our plates than we can handle.

Why is it that in this great democratic nation of ours, with all its guarantees of freedom, most of us don't bother to vote? (Actually, we prefer to air our many complaints within our preferred circles of like-minded friends).

“It's not our fault that this administration, this Congress and our local, elected officials have gotten us into this mess.” They should get us out of it!)

All this calls to mind Walt Kelley's wise observation, voiced by Pogo to his animal friends: “We have met the enemy and he is us.” 

Rather than demanding to see evidence of your commendable environmental-control involvements, this is to invite us all to ask ourselves, “How much am I putting into seeing that the world our children will soon inherit is habitable and safe?” What are you, what am I, doing now to ensure them a future?

How much time do you reserve in a day to find out what's going on in the world? And is our information based on something more than the morning's tweets? Do I regularly watch or listen to the reports of trained, experienced and on-the-scene reporters about what's happening in our country and the world? What's in your wallet? Have you planted any trees lately? Recently, the co-author of a study at the Swiss Federation Institute of Technology reported that the planting of 1 trillion trees will be “the cheapest way to halt the effects of climate change.” 

Well ... maybe it's time to face it. We've just been so busy with our daily, private concerns that we've not made time or had the inclination to get personally involved in what's happening around us.

The thing that's so significantly different about this moment is that we can still reshape the crumbling world our children are about to inherit. We can keep it habitable. It's still our world and we can decide to join hands to keep it safe for our children and their children – together! 

Francis Frellick is a Fort Wayne resident.

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