Let’s not kid ourselves: civilization today is one great smooth, institutionalised theft. We’ve pillaged, we’ve enslaved, we’ve stolen, taken without asking, borrowed without returning, materially raped… it isn’t easy to find the right words for what we have done to future generations regarding the environment, the temperature, water, air. The vicinity.
This week’s topic of Vicinity requires your standard mental time machine. Imagination, therefore, to take us into a not-so-distant future. And, scene.
On a giant stone pedestal stands a huge plastic bag, filled with all sorts of garbage, resembling a tall building. People are gathering around the pedestal – which, along with the aforementioned bag, represents a monument left to the generations to come. Some visitors are teary eyed, some are only letting out sighs, some leave flowers and wreaths (plastic, naturally), some are callous enough to make a speech. The media is reporting, selfies are taken. In the end, everyone leaves, leaving the monument to anyone who passes by, with an inscription on the pedestal. Three words, a comma, and a period.
‘We’re sorry, kids.’
Let’s not kid ourselves: civilization today is one great smooth, institutionalised theft. We’ve pillaged, we’ve enslaved, we’ve stolen, taken without asking, borrowed without returning, materially raped… it isn’t easy to find the right words for what we have done to future generations regarding the environment, temperature, water, air. The vicinity.
Thieves always call theft something different. This was, hypocritically, called ‘pollution’. The ways in which we care for everything healthy and clean which will soon disappear has been called ‘ecology’. It is, essentially, a grossly selfish pillaging of anything that may be left to our offspring. Everything that may make their lives possible. It is, then, an attempted, or even realised, murder of those who will live in the future. A perfect crime, finally accomplished.
The ‘we’re sorry’ doesn’t only refer to the garbage we’ve left, the forests we’ve cut, the water we’ve polluted, the species we’ve made extinct, the ice we’ve melted. Perhaps the greatest sin of today’s ecology is that it only refers to environmental pollution. The environment didn’t pollute itself, and this is something those who have come up with the study of Nature and Society (a compulsory primary school subject in schools across the region) can say a few things about. An unpolluted society couldn’t pollute its environment… To simplify: it may very well happen that the future generations, the ones we haven’t even started apologising to, will find a few other things in those plastic bags: democracy, education, interpersonal communication, culture, healthcare… All those things that have been shipped to the invisible landfill, in a massive plastic bag, throughout our consumerist, shopaholic civilisational run.
Our Vicinity has every right to talk about environmental pollution. It’s the regional environment – it’s poor. The aforementioned ecology is an activity for the wealthy, not for those who aren’t. Resolving the issues of pollution is up to the ecological Jupiters of the world, never up to the other subjects of the Latin phrase. Instilling order is much easier for those who are already ordered themselves; we can’t really say we’ve been hot on the social, metaphorical, gardening tools over here. And if we have, it hasn’t been very successful.
Having said that, it can very easily happen that the alleged ‘fight for the environment’, whether it’s against the plastic bags in the trees or the sulphate in the atmosphere, will be met with the same fate as many other things in the so-called Region. We’ll import. We will outsource environmental protection in the same way that we outsource any other protection, or anything else technologically demanding, or a bit more complex, for that matter. We just need to figure out who is the supplier, who is the representative, who’s getting a bill under the table – who is getting rich based on this importing business, soon to be the greatest one that has ever existed. We also need to figure out whether this export-import-trange-frange environmental protection will be paid for by the customs, considering that the ‘environmental protection’ isn’t ours. What’s ours is only that in the big bag full of garbage – getting fuller by the day. The one from the monument, from the beginning of this piece.
We’re sorry, vicinity kids.