New York City Watershed

NeversinkI recently read a book I have been waiting a while to get my hands on. Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization by Derrick Jensen. I first read Derrick Jensen’s work in 2006 when we moved to Neversink in the Catskills, among the reservoirs that supply New York City with its world renowned water. His book A Language Older Than Words, rings strong and true, the examples he uses clearly express what we all know.

As it turns out, the USA is so desperate for energy now that it is considering drilling the Marcellus Shale that runs from West Virginia to New York for natural gas. They say the process “should cause minimal environmental harm.” How many times have we heard that before? The number of things that could easily go wrong would result in contamination of the entire NY water supply-how many people is that? Should we call this a terrorist threat? Read the New York Times Editorial: Shale and Our Water.

I am not sure how much money has been put in to date to build and maintain the NY reservoirs and the gravity fed aquaducts that bring the water from the mountains to the city (everyone knows that’s why NY has the best pizza and bagels, right?) but just the idea that they are contemplating doing such a thing, and only giving until November 30th for public comment makes me wonder how far off we really are from having to radically shift our energy use. 2012 sounds like a date that is realistic, if not a bit far off.

This is one of my favorite passages from Endgame, Vol. 1 and how we have all been trained from a very young age by our culture of consumption to be wage slaves.

–As forests are felled, rivers poisoned, soil toxified, as we see beautiful wild places we love destroyed, as we watch our grandparents, cousins, brothers, sisters, lovers, children, ourselves wasting away from cancer, the whole culture tells us time and again the same message: you cannot survive without this culture, without civilization.

All of these messages are feasible only because of outrageous narrowing and blurring of our ability to perceive and to think clearly. Safety must be made to seem dangerous, and danger must be made to seem safe. Benevolence comes to be called violence, and violence comes to be called benevolence. Fear feels like love, and love feels like fear.

–All of this was precisely the sort of preparation I would need for a life of giving myself away, preparation for a process of schooling in which I was to give myself away to teachers, in preparation for a life of wage slavery, when I was to give myself away to the highest (monetary) bidder. I was similarly prepared to give myself away in personal relationships. The idea was that I should give myself away to those who held power over me until I had nothing left to give.

I am not unique.
That is what is expected of all of us.
That is what is expected of the world, that it give to those in power until it has nothing left to give.

But do we need to live like this? Do we need these masters? Do we need to give ourselves away to those who do not hold our best interests at heart, and do we need to allow them to hollow us out, and to hollow out the places we love?

It’s very scary. Having been hollowed out, having been told time and again that we cannot exist without the social systems that lead to our degradation, it is very easy to come to believe we cannot live without them. No matter how much we hate our jobs, could we live without the capitalists who run the country? No matter how much we hate ExxonMobil, could we live without the oil it sucks from the earth and transforms into the very lifeblood of the industrial economy? -p191

Endgame Vol I by Derrick Jensen
Ladybird on Yarrow

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