Collecting bottles, tossing leftovers, taking out the garbage
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Theodore Roszak is a professor of history at California State University, Hayward, and the author of The Voice of the Earth (Touchstone). He lives in Berkeley, California.
I agree that, no matter what the noise level, each person is entitled to hear his or her own inner voice. That’s an important first step to hearing the voices of others, as well as the cry of the earth. But the ability to respond intelligently, creatively, and compassionately to the claims of different human communities is undermined by the false sense of privilege that comes from thinking of oneself as “white.” Wanting to hear the voice of the earth, the notion that nature is crying out in pain, has a limited potential for reaching and touching many people who are living much more prosaic lifestyles than those who think about these matters only in an intellectual and philosophical way. People of color often view alarmist predictions about the collapse of the ecosystem as the latest stratagem by the elite to maintain political and economic control.
As Marx himself knew, sheer physical discomfort is not the worst form of suffering. Greater by far is the hardship that results when privation is due to injustice, incompetence, corruption. Then the pain is compounded by the indignity of victimization.