Oops, did I offend someone?
Sorry fellow earthies, but it needs to be said.
Sure, I can be cynical. Mostly I like to think that I have directed my subversive side towards trying to promote change. But Earth Hour…Really?
Here is how I spent Earth Hour 2013: I was at The Area, for their 1st annual membership Gala. If you don’t know what The Area is, you should. Especially if you live in Calgary. It’s this amazing, super idealistic nightclub/community space that has really taken to heart the current trend of it being cool to care.
At The Area you’ll find hipsters, artists, hippies, farmers, business people etc. uniting to have a good time, learn something, listen to music and change the world.
Riva gave a brief talk at the Gala, and asked something like, “Where else can you have a locally brewed beer in an Organic Permaculture garden between sets at a rock show?” That’s The Area in a nutshell. Throw in a great weekly farmers market, art gallery space, gardening workshops, greenhouse building workshops, and you have a pretty unique and special place in the city. (Hint. Check it out…)
But back to Earth Hour.
I was at The Area, chatting with a local SPIN farmer. Like dutiful earthies, when the clock struck, the lights powered down and the candles got lit. People’s eyes adjusted to the dim. They kept chatting; mingling; enjoying themselves. The apple lady kept circling giving samples of delicious Organic apples. People kept buying locally brewed beer (plug Village Brewery) at the bar. It was just like regular, non-earth hour time. Except for one thing.
It was nicer.
It felt better. It was more peaceful. There was a calm about the place. Everyone felt it. (unverified, but I felt it, so can only extrapolate…)
Then, all of a sudden, Earth Hour was over. And like dutiful Canadians, we jacked the lights back on. And things went on like before. The party continued. Everyone kept having a good time. Their eyes adjusted back to standard brightness. Business as usual. But it was less nice. Less calm. Less peaceful. Still fun. So…WHY?
Why do people insist on wholeheartedly missing the point?
I remember after one of the early Earth Hours everyone celebrating having made a blip of a dent on the power draw. Like this was a big victory for hope and for the future.
Let me tell you what happens when everyone shuts off the power. The amount of power being used is zero.
It’s simple math.
You don’t need to prove it to me. You don’t need to prove it to anyone.
The real question: Is anyone actually willing to do it?
Earth Hour shouldn’t just be teaching us that we can make a difference if we want to. It should be teaching us that change (sacrifice?) can actually be an improvement.
Sure, we rely on power. But it’s also a crutch. And there are many times when powering down simply makes life better.
I was in Costa Rica a couple of years ago, and, while the house we stayed in had electricity, it wasn’t consistent. Not having consistent power changes everything.
In North America (and the ‘developed world’), consistent power is one item on a long list of things we feel we are entitled to, as basic human rights, along with things like eating 3 large meals a day (plus snacks,) traveling incredible distances (car, bike, plane,) texting, and so on. The world wasn’t always like this. Much of the world still isn’t like this.
The conceit of the modern world is that things SHOULD be like this. (I’ll leave this tangent for a future article.)
What I’m arguing isn’t just that inconsistent power changes everything. It is that inconsistent power changes everything FOR THE BETTER.
Sure, it can be frustrating. For example, one minute you are cooking dinner, and the next minute you aren’t, because you are sitting in the dark, or eating a cold appetizer by candlelight. There is nothing you can do about it. Nothing to stress about. Your eyes adjust; there are no more distractions; you enjoy the peace, the company around you.
This is what we have to learn from things like Earth Hour. We don’t need modernity all the time. We might find we enjoy not having much modernity ever. Entitlement means taking things for granted, and taking things for granted means disconnecting from reality which means missing out on a good chunk of the fun.
But until things like Earth Hour and Earth Day and Earth Week become Earth Life, what hope do we have?
I had the good fortune of attending the premiere of ‘Revolution’ last night. It’s the latest from Sharkwater director Rob Stewart. It was amazing, beautiful, powerful and horrifying. (And it opens in theatres April 12th. Get there! Get everyone you know there!)
It is a call to action if there ever was one.
It’s time, people. Don’t be like our Meme friends Scumbag Steve and College Liberal. It’s time to stop trying to show that we could change if we wanted to, and start some actual change. It’s time to give up on ‘Earth Hour’ and start figuring out what the heck Earth Life is going to look like.