The Oprah Poison, Part II

When was the last time, you saw a political leader at any level of government stand up in front of the press and actually say or do anything that was more than another consecration of the status quo?

Why can’t we ever get a political leader who actually gives us the sense that he or she understands that people are fearful of losing their jobs; that many can’t find one; that many elders don’t have adequate income to sustain themselves? These are all problems of a sustainable society and you can’t create a sustainable society on Oprah’s personal recipe of Believing in yourself, Searching for your dream and then Living it. ( B.S. & L.)

B.S. & L. is about fragmentation. It’s about Sarah Palin’s family using the Canadian medical system when she was a child, then growing up to preach against it. It’s about me and my dream – now. A public health system that serves all does not serve Sarah Palin right now, because she’s rich and philosophically it has become repugnant. B.S. & L. is about private health care – if it suits you.

It’s about more Tar Sands, not less Tar Sands – if it suits you. It’s about the Tea Party and their notion that smart growth is a U.N. conspiracy, not a sustainability solution. It’s about going back to the attitudes of ‘frontier’ America as if (pictures of Sarah Palin shooting moose and caribou notwithstanding), America still had a frontier.

This is all poison for the future of humanity. It’s poison because the population of the planet has grown from millions into the billions and most of us are not slaying buffalo or ploughing virgin turf. The majority of us now live in cities and cities require tolerance and co-operation which needs real leaders, not B.S.& L. politicians who act as referees between competing B.S.& L. lobbies.

Living your personal dream can’t build a high speed rail system from Montreal to Ottawa, Ottawa to Toronto or Calgary to Edmonton. Bankers can’t be taxed fairly unless the community from which they make their money insists that they be. Local farmers cannot be supported unless sprawl is controlled, agricultural lands protected and cities invest in public food terminals and neighbourhood farmer’s markets. All this is committed, collective public action, not B.S. & L.

Oprah’s cheerleading for chasing your own dream insulates the elites who actually run cities and nations for the benefit of themselves. After all, in the B.S. & L. world, that guy with a ski home in Colorado, a boat in Boston, a condo in New York might be me. Oprah did it. Barak did it. So can I. Who knows maybe one of my books will take off and I’ll be world famous – now.

Meanwhile, our world, which desperately requires the intelligent attention of useful collective action, continues to yaw around without any sustaining vision for the planet from its’ principal tenant.

The long and short of it is this: In the first decade of the 21st century, none of society’s deep and compelling problems have been addressed. The carbon loading of the planet’s atmosphere continues to grow. The weather becomes more erratic and dangerous, our cities more costly to live in, the fear of violence increases, as does the divide between the rich and the poor. Financial collapse will threaten the stock markets again.

This is the world where Oprah wants you to ‘Believe in yourself, Search for your dream and then Live it’. It’s a world which isn’t working and won’t work until we develop personal and public philosophies that can sustain us both as individuals and as communities.

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