Saturday, February 18, 2012

Some impressive speakers and a personal vindication

The one full day of the Conference is now over and I can provide a brief personal report: The speakers were all excellent, but I for one was especially impressed with Clyde Prestowitz, Amory Lovins, and the "Mr Y" authors Colonel Mykleby and Captain Porter.

It's rare in conference-going that a whole day of speakers are all so good.

My particular favorites were Mykleby and Porter. This is part bias or even baggage from my own background -- I left the British military during in 1985 in protest at much the same kind of paleo, unsustainable thinking their "strategic narrative" moves so forcefully away from, albeit then from Margaret Thatcher and her government of the day.

For right or wrong at the time, influenced by the writings of Schumacher and Porritt, among others, I felt that Thatcher's acceptance of American nuclear-tipped cruise and Pershing missiles in Europe (making Britain ground zero in what seemed like a war Reagan wanted to start with the Soviets), and her brutal suppressions of the Greenham Common Peace Camp women and the miner's union, were terrible ecological mistakes. I wrote a long and probably tedious attack on the workings of the British version of the military industrial complex, the ecological fallacies of the Thatcherites, and so on, and went through a longer and yet more tedious legal case to get out.

At the time I won my honorable discharge (at a Queen's Regulation Tribunal) and kept my pension. I was one of a small handful of QR 67 discharge-ees during the Greenham Common/1984 miner's strike era. I became quite radicalized for a time, and committed to the environmental movement, first in Scotland and then America. With my discharge I was able to emigrate and get an education in sustainability, concluding eventually with the PhD and the appointment at Unity College.

But the loss of my first career, which I loved, especially the rescue work in the RAFMRS, and the sense of loss of my old comrades, always sat uneasily with me. As consolation and out of a sense of duty and because I love the work, I maintained my service to SAR efforts, as well as social contact with my old mates from the RAFMRS. But Myckleby and Porter's work brings this difficult time of my life full circle in a different way. Here is a timely and honorable acceptance, from within the highest reaches of the US military, of all the human ecological and sustainability theory my life has been about during and since my discharge. No longer am I the wild-eyed radical. My point of view has become mainstream and even respectable.

It's a personal vindication of sorts, or at least a re-circling and re-acceptance.

It wasn't the only one. The re-circling and re-acceptance that mattered most to me was the visit to Unity College in 2009 of my old friend Heavy Whalley, who had been the team leader on the Lockerbie Air Disaster just a short while after I left the service, and had just retired as a Warrant Officer and one of the most senior and experienced NCOs in the entire British rescue system. Heavy and I were able to talk at length and reconcile our two disparate lives since my discharge, and come to terms each in his own way with my departure those many years earlier, as well as the various burdens and stresses we both had separately carried since then. I was deeply gratified to hear him tell me how well he thought of my previous protest. We were, and are still, old comrades.

But to hear Mykleby and Porter state out loud and to such applause that sustainability should be the primary end of American and western strategy, well, that was a different kind of vindication.

After all these years.

No comments:

Post a Comment