Don Henley’s empathetic voice in the Eagles song Last Resort warns that if “you call someplace paradise, kiss it goodbye.” So I’m very careful when choosing words to describe my current location here in Italy.
Sure, it’s breathtaking, and the people here love the land. But that’s certainly not new. The people I’ve met have been kind, gracious, and very generous. They love the land. They’re artists, intellectuals, and former government employees. They love the land.
They are college students, executive coaches, and former employees of Goldman Sachs and yes, even they love the land.
What’s love got to do with it?
But love is not enough anymore. I’m sure there were colonists and western settlers that loved the land as well. The environmentalists and conservationists also loved and continue to love the land. The problem is I think I love the land.
It’s the midnight hour, folks. It has been for sometime. As I sit here on my iPad (no loss of irony on me) writing about love, land, and Eagles’ songs, I have to wonder what it is I’m actually doing?
Actually, what are we doing? We in the climate change, peak oil, and Transition world are all shouting about the approaching cliff but still the train cruises onward. So preppers prep, occupiers occupy, Transitioners transition and we all love the land.
How much do I love the land?
I love it enough to fly all the way to Europe so I can still have a grid tied life. I cherish it so much that I still pay taxes to the industrial machine. I care for it so deeply that I still can’t survive without fossil fuels. Finally my unwavering respect is revealed in my choice to avoid anything violent or illegal in defense of it. Hell, I don’t even have the courage or motivation to protest the blatant killing that’s going on and being led by the”greatest nation on Earth.”
Instead I’ll just share some article on Facebook and continue to complain from the sidelines.
As far as the rest of nature is concerned I’m an outsider, a poser trying to fit in where I clearly have not earned my stripes. I’m moving towards the exit of empire, but I should be running — and wreaking havoc along the way.
Shoulda, woulda, coulda
Many of our lives have fallen into this realm of what we should do. As my friend Calvin Terrell likes to point out “people are ‘shouldin all over the place. ”
Maybe that’s the problem with our current living arrangement. We know what should be done but instead we continue to chase the elusive carrot of so-called progress.
Keep it like a secret
So I’d like to start by apologizing to the land in a real effort that I can one day come to love it like so many that we have ignored, marginalized, or slaughtered. I’ve not been living up to the agreement of living within my means like so many before me have done. Countless cultures and generations have followed this agreement. Other species live by this agreement. I haven’t.
I want to love the land. I want to learn about what the land needs from me, if anything. I want to live by the agreement. This small valley in Italy has shown me it may actually still be possible. I’m just afraid to call it paradise.
–Michael and Karen Sliwa, Transition Voice