The correlation between Earth Day and the “Arab Spring”
When you think of America, what comes to mind?
Here’s what comes to my mind: Pepsi, Coca Cola, Nike, Hollywood, the NBA, the NFL, the Super Bowl, Call Of Duty, and actual wars all over the world, among other things. What does not come to my mind is environmental activism or legislation, but this exactly what we are meant to be acknowledging this Earth Day.
Earth Day is the brainchild of Gaylord Nelson, a World War II veteran and a lawyer who served as governor and senator. It is allegedly responsible for increasing environmental awareness in America, and for the establishing of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which would regulate and enforce national pollution legislation. The actual establishing of the Agency however came as a special executive order allegedly spurred by a growing movement fueled by the Cuyahoga River Fire in June of 1969. I became a resident of Cleveland in 1999 and a U.S. citizen in 2006 but I was not exposed to this information until I had to look it up, today.
Throughout my stay in the United States (U.S.) I was prompted to buy, consume, and to vote. In school and university, assignment due dates, and awkward outdated socializing constructs (Greek life), fueled mostly by alcoholic stupor, left little time for self-reflection and cognitive independence. I had to break free from the confines of academic excellence and continue to restrict myself from drinking alcohol in order to allow my brain the freedom to breathe. The America I knew in college was one were most students were anesthetized and sheltered from international concerns unless those were presented to them as required reading in class. I remember being required to pay for a New York Times subscription in order to make news paper clippings for a class, but when I took the initiative to provide feedback in class discussions based on my background, it made no difference to the professor who came in with a prescribed agenda. I also remember challenging capitalism in an Economics class and not being taken seriously.
Every company, production, entity and orchestration I mentioned earlier has thrived in the U.S. despite the existence of the EPA whose agenda has for a long time now been politically infiltrated, and every single one of them has not been put under the radar enough, or at all, for the negative social and environmental implications of their existence or their advertisements.
One interesting fact I learned as I was preparing to write this, is that there was a book named Silent Spring, which is cited as the beginning of the modern environmental movement in the U.S., whose author, a woman, died two years after the book’s publication in 1962 (https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/rachel-carson-silent-spring-published). One concerning fact I could not help but reflect on given this piece of information, and the fact that according to EarthDay.org, Earth Day has been about “civil society mobilization” since its inception, is the correlation with “Arab Spring”. The mobilization which happened on 22 April 1970 did not happen because a group of students all over the country were capable enough of instigating change; it happened because it was assiduously orchestrated at the top by Nelson, who worked out the needed bi-partisan collaboration.
As much as I would like to believe in the might of grassroots initiatives, in this day and age, to remain ignorant or to overlook the role of people in power, is nonsensical. When I was initially approached to register to vote, I had not associated myself with either the Democrats or the Republicans, nor was I properly initiated into the legislative workings of our state, and yet I felt pressured repeatedly to make a decision because “every vote counts.” Last year, when I joined the official virtual Earth Day conference, the message permeating the event was to become more politically involved and to vote: we had to get Donald Trump out of power.
The question now is, who is in power and how educated are we about the social and environmental implications of the American culture which we have not shied away from exporting to the rest of the world? I, for one, know enough to understand that the U.S. does not like competition when it comes to power (pun intended).