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I do believe the recent crisis of “Hurricane Sandy” has helped contribute to a “New Civilization”. Oh, it is small and not “making headlines”, but I am hearing little conversations arising from a higher consciousness.
I live in the town of Westerly, Rhode Island, USA. We received the greatest damage from “Sandy” within the state of Rhode Island. Yes, the states of New York and New Jersey received far more damage and I have not experienced what the response has been in those states, but in our little town, where the beaches have been washed away, and homes, hotels, and restaurants destroyed, I am beginning to hear conversations concerning global warming and the certainty there will be other storms like this. I hear talk about the rising sea level due to global warming. I also hear some saying these coastal areas should not be rebuilt. The words of local indigenous nations are now being quoted, “build no structures within one mile of the coastline”.
There are also those who question the cost of reconstruction. Damage such as this is paid for with everyone’s tax dollars through FEMA and increases in the cost of home insurance will affect all home owners. The question of justice and equity are being raised. Is it just to impose higher taxes and insurance costs on everyone for the benefit of so few?
Questions and comments such as these would not have been heard in this small town ten years ago. This is a community of second homes and acquired affluence. The has been a community based on the cultural myth that “things will always get better”. So to hear the increasing doubt about luxury at the expense of the environment and the larger population is truly amazing and hopeful!
Oh, no, it is not all that is heard. There are still a great many benefits being held to “bring back the beach” as well as talk of homes and hotels being rebuilt, but to even hear the voices of some that are truly concerned and questioning is very hopeful and indicative of an emerging “New Civilization”.
As recently as five years ago a small group of citizens attempted to educate this community regarding the fact that the supply of oil on the planet had “peaked”. Related to the increasing lack of oil this small group attempted to increase bus and train service into the town, build bicycle paths, and encourage community gardens. They were unable to gain support from the town government or citizens for these concerns. There was even a dismissal of the concept that any natural resource COULD be depleted.
However, today some of the biggest skeptics of the need for a new consciousness concerning environmental issues five years ago, are beginning to question, “Can we continue to live as we have the past 1000 years?” They are now encouraging “bike sharing” and local farming. They are also among those who are questioning the wisdom of re-building along the shore.
Yes, we will have to grieve. This planet can no longer be viewed as my parents saw it. It will be sad to see an entire way of life, with the lovely beach home to retreat to each summer, now gone. It will be difficult to see the tourist industry in the area shrink as beaches, hotels, and restaurants disappear. It will require a new perspective on commerce, one that is more sustainable.
The encouraging hope is that the little voices I overhear while working out at the “Y”, and shopping in the grocery store, will begin to increase. Not unlike the “Hundredth Monkey” new levels of consciousness can be contagious as the recent tragic hurricane brings about creative, new responses. This crisis has indeed created the opportunity for movement toward the “New Civilization”!
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