Bill has a friend in town Duncan; who is both an Anthropologist and Native American shaman. I’ve been wondering lately why all these colorful characters have appeared in my life. We got into an intense discussion about the clashing lifestyles between the Anglos and Natives. I am bringing this up as it was the start of the conversation and avoiding a “romantic” view. I grew up in Montana, and have seen the best and worst of the culture convergence.
The topic of the conversation was the idea of that our culture has of this “Green Materialism”. It is the idea that corporations are pushing products on people which are touted as “Green” or “Environmental”, but it actually nowhere near the idea. At a simplistic level, Natives believe Nature as the basis of their religion while Anglos typically have monotheism (Catholic, Baptist, etc) as the basis. The difference of these religions has become the foundation of how people build relationships with people, animals, and the earth. Because the Natives believe in relationships and many “gods” whom are rooted in the plant and animal world, the relationship tends to be intricate and respectful of nature. For monotheism, the relationship with nature tends to be what the “God” wants over nature. (There is a whole argument about the lifestyle Natives are living @ reservations, but that’s a topic for a different time.)
And so as the American culture has had a difficult time understanding why nature should come before us. As the stronghold of established religion relaxes its hold on America, it’s interesting that the “Green” idea is growing back into our culture. What makes me laugh though is when corporations perpetuate the idea that mass producing their product is a “green” way to live. Take for example the Toyota commercial where the car is built in sticks and then “goes back to nature”. Toyota has done a lot in the area of electric cars, reducing consumption in gas, and reducing emissions; I believe the commercial is incredibly misleading in that the metal in the car will recycle itself. Perhaps Toyota is heading in that direction? I don’t know, but the reality is it’s not possible right now. Green Materialism: To promote and perpetuate something as green, and then to destroy all its benefits with mass production, or a manufacturing process which isn’t environmentally conscious. Here’s the big question: Does it work and is it an honest approach towards being environmentally sound or is someone just out to make a buck?
Why do I believe in the environment? It has everything to do with protecting the beauty I grew up with in Montana. I don’t want to see this world become a parking lot. I want to be able to take a shower without fear that acid has ruined the water, and I want to be able to breathe outside and not have to stay inside on hot days because the combination of heat and smog could kill. (In DC, they are called “red” days, and it is advised for young children and seniors to stay inside.).