On Earth Day

The thing about holidays is, they’re utterly insidious. Evil? Maybe. I certainly wouldn’t be so quick to rule out the idea. Holidays instill a sense of complacency, a lukewarm, mind-numbing sense that everything’s gonna be okay. Not only official holidays (e.g., Christmas) but also the flimsier holidays, the ones who get their names on some calendars but not others and which allow for some degree of ritual. The ‘holiday’ of note today being, yes, earth day. (Or is it Earth Day?)

I’m all for the earth (go earth! go! go!) but I’m not so sure this whole Earth Day schtick is exactly a positive development.

I’m not saying it’s bad to ‘celebrate’ the earth (or whatever the hell it is people are supposed to do on earth day–recycle extra hard, maybe? or plant a tree?), but whatever good might be achieved by earth day events/activities/etc. is almost certainly overcome by the decay of the following 364 days.

Because, let’s face it, right now society is hell-bent on making its own survival a future impossibility. Reserve resources are being used faster than they can be re-stocked. Systems of regeneration are being devastatingly crippled as ecosystems are systematically deprived of vital elements, e.g., continuity, space, inputs. Cycles of renewal and growth are being warped and mutilated.

Quite honestly, these chances are not much buoyed by one day’s celebration.

Imagine if America’s founders had decided to go about their task of establishing a new country by having a “Revolutionary War Day” once a year.

“On that day,” they would have said, “we’ll fight for our future.”

The rest of the days, of course, the task would have been sporadically dealt with, proud Revolutionary War Day celebrants the rest of the year buying Britain Rocks T-shirts and ‘I Support the Empire’ coffee mugs.

Today’s future–regardless of how you think this whole America experiment turned out–is no less tenuous, and can be taken no less seriously.

Does Earth Day help us toward a more certain future?

I very much doubt it.