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Resolutions for a shell shocked world

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
December 27, 2001


"Question everything. Every stripe, every star, every word spoken. Question everything." — Ernest Gaines

This time of year usually finds me in a rotten mood. Once I learned Santa Claus was as real as the Boogey man, Christmas began to lose its charm. With each year furthering my disillusionment of all things sentimental. The ultimate of Hallmark Holidays, nothing unnerves me more than hollow smiles mouthing words of good cheer, while greedy eyes dart about the room looking for unclaimed presents. Like other feeding frenzies, Christmas leaves me both sad and nauseated. Happily I can report this year was not the same.

For some odd, unexplainable, reason I did not resent Christmas lights for the waste of natural resources they are. Nor did I want to "out" Santa for being the corporate tool Coca Cola designed him to be. My distain for big ugly Christmas trees diminished to the point of inconsequence, and even billboards claiming Jesus to be "the reason for the season," failed to launch me on holiday tirade about over consumption and capitalistic ritual. The most amazing gift received by me this year was a strange feeling of calm.

The United States is at war, with the world, and it's better nature. Global warming and globalization are forgone conclusions. Pollution is on the increase, as is population, AIDS, and religious intolerance. Forests are disappearing. Wetlands? All but gone. And there is talk again about nuclear possibilities. Sadly, for all of us, no amount of missile defense can protect us from the American appetite. I know all this, and still no panic. Is this what drowning feels like?

Normally I would be in a major funk, wrestling with the panic everyone feels while running the holiday gauntlet. Thankfully this is not the case, and I expect to get through New Years Day, none the worst for wear, unfazed by the chaos swirling around us. Call me jaded, but I am of the opinion American involvement in the Afghanistan has set in motion something so huge we are all powerless to prevent it. Perhaps this new found calm is nothing more than the resolve associated with waiting for the inevitable.

Another of my annual traditions is to publicly declare my New Year resolutions. I do this to keep myself focused on what needs to get done, and to insure I do them. Last year my resolution was to remove non-native trees from my personal habitat in Leucadia, which was easily accomplished. Out of a possible dozen trees slated for removal, 5 were dispatched to make room for native species, many of which took root at Scenic House this past year. My resolutions also included driving less, using less paper, and reducing my personal consumption. All of which were accomplished with varying degrees of success.

This year my resolutions are pretty much the same. Trees slated for removal this year are 2 Canary Island date palms, a mature eucalyptus, a non-native pine which needs to make room for two young Torrey pines. Of course I also resolve to continue planting native species as often as possible, wherever possible. As for walking less, that will be possible as soon as the Encinitas City Council provides the leadership needed to make Encinitas a walkable community. A comprehensive mass transit system will also help reduce my drive time.

New on my resolution list are bats. With 2002 I begin my efforts to restore bats to my immediate environment. An organic method of pest control, these small mammals actually benefit the human community. So this year instead of focusing on the planting of Quercus dumosa, my biodiversity efforts will be directed towards accommodating Macrotus californica, (Aka: the California leaf nosed bat.) Now if only I could figure out the best way to let the bats know of my efforts to provide them low income housing.

As you can see my resolutions are geared towards quality of community. I do have some personal resolutions like listening more, procrastinating less, and retaining my healthy relationship with cynicism, but they are trivial compared to my commitment to environmental sustainability and ecological justice. I also resolve to continue speaking out for the environment regardless of how unpatriotic that may seem.

Noticed how I avoided swearing off any vices, or making promises I couldn't keep. I find this to be the best recipe for resolution fulfillment. At a time when we are all powerless to do anything but watch the world spin out of control, focusing on areas where we can make a difference becomes a lifeline to sanity. As do the vices that help numb the growing unrest.

Happy New Year.

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