"What do you do when the past is no longer a guide to the future?" — Jesse Ansubel
Beginning my annual "resolutions from the edge" column is never easy. A tradition of sorts, my first column of the year is where I take on the role of a modern day Cassandra, issuing forth with predictions for the upcoming year. Finding a hook, or stimulus to start the words flowing for 2005 was as simple as picking up a magazine.
Imagine my jaded disgust when I saw the Person of the Year edition of Time magazine. The sad, yet dopey visage of George W. Bush gazed red-eyed towards the heavens. To the left of his chin, and beneath his name, were the words: American revolutionary. Do you know how hard it is to laugh, when trying to hold back vomit? It is very unsettling.
Yet there it was, in a word, revolutionary. 2005 will be a year of revolt.
Of course my choice for person of the year would have been Dr. Wangari Maathai, founder of the Greenbelt movement and the first African woman to be honored with the Nobel peace prize. Recognized for her environmental restoration work, as well as her commitment to female empowerment in sub-Saharan Africa, Dr, Maathai is the living embodiment of progress through peaceful actions. The opposite of a fundamentalist war president, Wangari was responsible for restoring hope to the people of Kenya and the world, armed only with principled purpose, a green vision and millions of trees.
Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen my person of the year is a woman of peace not a man of war.
2004 started in war and ended in war, 2005 will be no different. Not only will the United States government be waging war on the people of Iraq, it will continue the assault on the people of Columbia, Venezuela, and Afghanistan. We the people can also expect a great deal of saber rattling in regards to Iran, Syria, and Cuba. And then there is the Bush Administration's war against the environment, outside of the mind-numbing amount of toxic pollution released during current combat.
Time magazine may find reason to applaud George W. Bush for his brand of slash and burn fundamentalism. I do not. Sadly the editorial staff at Time Magazine has mistaken a corporate jihad for a revolution. The only revolt history will associate with the 43rd president is the one that will coalesce during his second term.
In 2005 I foresee a serious reduction of civil liberties. Dissent will be the first target of the Bush Mandate. Remember the "Either you're with us, or you are with the terrorists" speech? The echo of that will be heard loud and clear this year. Such rhetoric will not be reserved for anti-war demonstrators. Eco-activists will be targeted as never before. Trying to save whales and redwoods, environmentalists will be labeled Ecoterrorists by the media so ecological destruction can continue, without any real discussion of the issues.
In other words, "Either you agree with the rape and pillage of the natural ecosystems or you are with the terrorists." Environmental deregulation will play a major part of the Bush Mandate. I also predict the Artic National Wildlife Refuge will again be targeted for petroleum development.
Taking the lead of Dr. Wangari Maathai, my resolution for 2005 will be to advocate peace through environmental activism. Not only will I commit to planting 42 trees this year, I also resolve to adopt Wangari Maathai's mission of regenerating the environment, recuperating indigenous knowledge and practices for sustainable livelihoods, empowering local communities, and restoring responsible governance.
Wangari Maathai is the true revolutionary. Webster's dictionary defines revolutionary as b: tending to or promoting revolution c: constituting or bringing about a major or fundamental change. Planting trees for peace is a fundamental shift away from a paradigm equating bombs with peace and occupation with free market economics. Environmental restoration is a change I can live with.
Wangari's Green Belt movement is part of a larger revolt against the policies of destruction that has brought us to the precarious place of corporate wars over limited resources. The green revolution embodied by the life work of Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai is one I resolve to be a part of.
And, as resolutions go, I think that's as good as any.