Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Planet. The Population. The Big Hug.

I'm just back from a fast paced walk. In the sleet.

These words leaping onto my computer screen via an advertisement from Ford Motor Company are the ones that sent me out into the gray afternoon, arms pumping, angry thoughts churning:

People really like the Earth. And for the most part, the Earth really likes people too. Actually, it could be the longest-term relationship ever. At Ford, we are doing everything we can to keep that relationship beautiful. So we are constantly creating technology that shows the Earth lots of love. The Ford Escape Hybrid, ever increasing MPG, ever-decreasing emissions. People and Earth. Exchanging gifts. No receipt necessary.

For a mile or so, my mind took these few sentences and ran with them.

"I love you, my dear Earth", I saw people saying, zipping about town in their Ford Escape Hybrids. "An ounce of CO2, a token of love, the perfect thank you for the longest-term relationship ever."

Ever increasing MPG, ever decreasing emissions? Perfect. We'll just ever-increase MPG to to infinity, ever-decrease emissions to below zero until one day driving a Ford Escape Hybrid will be an act of public service, sucking carbon right out of the atmosphere! No need for pricey complicated research into carbon sequestration after all, just a fleet of Fords.

As for people and Earth exchanging gifts, haven't we all known people like that, artists of the one-way exchange? All take, no gift. Thanks for dinner and here's the check.

So my thoughts unfolded as I walked, but I couldn't keep it up.

I started noticing all the little miracles of this ordinary day – the tingle on my cheeks of the cold rain, the dark branches of bare maples against the clouds.

We all know that advertising plays upon our deepest hopes - to have love, to be enough, to not be lonely, to be thought worthy. Is it so surprising that a team at Ford Motor Company thinks that being in a relationship, a beautiful relationship, with the Earth is one of those deepest desires?

Actually, how could it be otherwise, for we who evolved at the edge of forests, digging in soil, bending down at stream-sides to drink cool, clear water?

And there it is, the beautiful opportunity, right in plain sight: there are so many better, easier, more beautiful ways to fill our longing to reconnect than the unlovely and expensive Ford Escape Hybrid.

Maybe not everyone would agree that walking in the November sleet is beautiful or their heart's desire, but eating a fresh picked apple might do it, for a moment, or biking to work, or planting box gardens at the senior citizens' center. There are so many opportunities, many of them free, many of them cheap, all of them truly exchanges with the Earth, all of them sealing the bond of the longest relationship ever. These pursuits don't give the gift of a little less harm, the give the gift of no harm. Sometimes they even five the gift of restoration.

By the time my route came round again to home, the sun had come out.

A perfect rainbow, bright and unbroken, stretched the full expanse of the north sky.


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