Welcome to the first Bathrobe blog posting!
The 10th Annual Robert Hunter Memorial Lecture at the University of Toronto’s School of the Environment on April 1st came much faster than the two years of preparation makes apparent. And the 35 years that it took to create the feature length documentary based on Bob’s life and writing, ‘How to the World’ seems to have arrived even faster (from the outside at any rate). This blog is going to start as a conversion, but not mine — Bob’s. This is the continuation of the revolution in consciousness that he called for from the very start of his activism, back in ’68, ’69, ’70. And though that’s a long time ago, the film, the work, the impact all show that it is as relevant today as ever, perhaps even more so, since the development of things has accelerated.
What I hope to make clear in the first few entries is the process by which a person who thinks, becomes a person who does. “No heroes, only opportunities” has to be the mantra here. Bob’s words, as he said, were many, actions few. He wished to be judged by the latter. But if his actions were few, the rest of us have a lot of catching up to do, if we are not to be judged wanting.
In the final chapter of Thermageddon, Bob invited his third grandchild, Dexter, to spit on his grave if it proved that he hadn’t done enough to curb the trend towards environmental collapse and climate catastrophe that he started to see back in 1968. A lot has happened in the world since he began his first ‘environmental’ book, The Enemies of Anarchy, and, in spite of all he did to change the world, there is a lot more to be done. This just means that it cannot be left to another time, to another generation, to another person; it has to be us, it has to be now, it has to be real.
The Internet is full of reports of degradation and depletion, human induced destruction of the natural environment and political attitudes that speak only to the few, with total disregard for the many. We are hoping to bring this into focus, in one place, to give you a source of fear, shame and loathing that will, it is hoped, bring about their replacement with courage to stop “mainlining oil” as Bob once said, pride in actual achievement and love of the world of integrated wholeness that will determine our fate.
It is no hyperbole to say that we are the first species in the history of life to understand the source of our own extinction, while at the same time using all of the power that nature has given us to ignore that same source. It is simple, we are gluttons. Not gluttons in the Roman sense of consuming and vomiting enough to feed a whole family for the pure, decadent pleasure of consumption, but gluttons in the sense of gathering consumables solely to be able to deny anyone else from having them. We don’t even get to the act of consuming, let alone vomiting, we just grab all that we can in order to render it useless both to ourselves and to everyone else.
The first step in making this point is to bring to your attention the symptoms of self-destruction that Bob saw back in the late 60’s and early 70’s. His warnings were not much heeded then, unfortunately. This drove his spirit to express itself in acts of unaloneness: the concept that all life is interconnected. One of his first such acts was to bring to the collective public conscience the sheer stupidity of testing technological advances in our ability to destroy life with nuclear weapons, through the first Mind Bomb — the run to Amchitka and the creation of Greenpeace.
In the course of his own awakening, Life took a central role in his thought, in his writing and in his activity. Whales represented life at large and our treatment of it. Seals came to symbolize our wanton rape of ‘resources’ and our callous attitude to the other creatures that share this earth. Through Paul Watson’s insistence of the importance of seals as this symbol and his willingness to sacrifice his own life for that of the animals, Bob realized that we have so separated ourselves from the world that nurtures and nourishes us (not to mention every other creature that crawls or walks or flies or swims or slithers or grows) that humanity’s sight, let alone it’s insight, has been so desperately foreshortened that we can barely see our own toes.
Bob coined the phrase (one among many) ‘a revolution of consciousness’ and in a world filled with a storm of disinformation being spewed out by corporate media, corporate politicians and corporate science there is plenty of need to speak the truth, as uncomfortable as that will sometimes be. That’s what this blog will be about. He left a legacy of action, which needs to be taken as an example, and a legacy of words, that need to be shouted out. In more ways than it’s practical to mention, he saw beyond his own time, his own circumstances, his own ego, and left us far too soon. His family wants us to know about these things and I want to bring them to you, so that’s what we are going to do.
Thanks for joining us on this journey — please take it in and pass it on.