Sitting here in Texas, reading your report on comments by the global press about President Bush's rejection of the Kyoto Protocol, I giggled. The Bush administration has the “arrogance of those that think themselves owners of the earth” said the Portuguese media. Ya gotta laugh or cry.
Cultural change comes slowly to my Texas. When everyone else was wearing mini skirts, we still wore big hair and makeup. Now, we fiercely debate public rail transit, something Portland and Seattle
decided decades ago.
Arrogance? Isn't all of America struggling to give up the illusion of power and control, the hubris, of the old modern worldview? Please forgive my Texas if, in cultural innovations, we follow rather than lead.
You can help by leading in clarifying the vision of cultural, lifestyle, and political change and making it real. You can help by setting us an example, by showing us how, by building vibrant, healthy, sustainable cities that people here move to.
Here, we're still heatedly debating global warming in the press.
The Commons issue is terrific. It was particularly nice to see Jonathan Rowe taking on the Garrett Hardin story, which has had such pernicious influence among good folks over the years.
Wanted: Meat + Vision
I want to respond to Marian Lacklen's letter, “Less Pollyanna, More Meat” (Summer 2001).
We need positive visions, and YES! plays a valuable role in fostering refreshing, constructive thinking/dialog. Mainstream US media views only the negative as newsworthy— often reinforcing the problems covered by making destructive behaviour seem normative. I've stopped reading some “alternative” publications that present a litany of concerns without offering alternative visions.
I share Marian's desire for attention to and deep analysis of a range of concerns, but I believe YES! delivers the most “meat” (nourishment for the future) through its positive, problem-solving orientation. We don't have to sacrifice positivity for serious, intelligent exploration of the issues. Isn't that another example of the popular, false dichotomy we're trying to avoid? (In short: no! no! no! Please don't change this great publication!)
Brooklyn, New York
Not Wanted: Doom + Gloom
Thank you once again for an inspiring and uplifting issue (Summer 2001). I was particularly moved by Donella Meadows' last article and the tribute to her by Fran Korten; sharing the same unusual first name makes me identify with her quite strongly. I remember what a shock I had the first time I came across her name!
I cannot agree with the letter from Marian Lacklen complaining that you are “too positive, Pollyannish.” There is plenty of “meat” in YES! articles, and there are also scores of other sources of “the truth about what is wrong with our whole culture” and with the environment as well, such as New Internationalist magazine, and of course some excellent websites mentioned in YES!
What makes YES! my favourite magazine (I really do say “Yes!”
every time I find the latest issue has arrived) is the good news stories, the messages of hope and empowerment. It is so easy to get despondent reading all the bad news that it's
really important to counteract it, and finding out what other individuals and groups are trying and achieving is inspirational.
Too much gloom and doom makes people turn off. The message of hope that you bring us is what turns us on again.
Cultural Creatives? So What?
Am I a Cultural Creative? I don't know. But I do know that it's a less important question than these: Where is real economic change going to come from? How will our democracy be resurrected?
Often we want to answer these questions individually—green-shopping our way to a revolution, for example, or trying to live simply to save the world. Then we wonder why we're still going downhill economically, environmentally, and politically—even though we've done everything in our power as individuals to live more consciously.
I believe we've reached the limits of our culture of personality and individuality. I'd like to submit that our search for personal meaning cannot be transferred to the important questions of the day.
It is only by working together to understand history, power, economics, and by our willingness to agitate collectively that we can move toward a more just society. Even though the history we're taught consists of personality profiles of leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., and Tom Hayden, it was not the leaders but the collective action of thousands of people that made change happen. Nixon stopped bombing Cambodia (openly, at least) because he had 100,000 angry people on his lawn.
Roberta L. Wilson
Bainbridge Island, Washington
Perhaps we might all substitute “communitarian” countries for “developing” countries, calling attention to the move away from a desirable state as development occurs.
Harmful PC Factoids
In an issue that deals with many very important quality of work life issues (YES! Winter 2001), you quoted the following statistic: “Earnings of full-time women compared to men: 73 cents for every dollar earned by men.”
This figure is very misleading. It does not address the number of hours worked per week, the level of job satisfaction, level of danger in the job, educational level, length of time in the workplace, amount of money available to the male versus the
female for their own use, job flexibility, age, or external pressure to earn high wages (versus following your passion or working part time).The factoid also fails to consider the sacrifices that men often make in order to earn a salary that typically goes to support others in addition to themselves.
Christina Hoff Sommers, in Who Stole Feminism, and Warren Farrell, in The Myth of Male Power, speak about how it can be harmful to women and to men to list these
politically correct “factoids” in a way likely to reinforce the idea that men are better off than women.