“They loved living here. But I can’t let them stay. They’ll have to find food. And I hope that they may. ‘Good luck, boys,’ he cried. And he sent them away.” Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax” continues, “I … felt sad as I watched them all go. But … business is business! And business must grow … I meant no harm. I most truly did not. But I had to grow bigger. So bigger I got. I biggered my factory. I biggered my roads. I biggered my wagons. I biggered the loads. … I went right on biggering … selling more Thneeds. And I biggered my money, which everyone needs.”
With a familiar snapping noise, the lamp I tried to turn on instead remained dark. As I groped blindly under the kitchen sink for a replacement, eventually finding the carton containing the last of the household’s 100 Watt “soft white” bulbs, those lines from Dr. Seuss’ story came to mind. I remember reading that book and thinking, even as a child, that it was a horribly depressing story. Worse, it seemed only too prophetic to me as a youngster.
Growing up in the 1980s, I shared a common malady with most of my contemporaries. We were taught, from an early age, that we were all doomed. Television movies like “The Day After,” not to mention the evening news, had us convinced that at any moment we could all be turned to piles of smoldering, irradiated ash. The specter of nuclear war hung low over our heads. While the ridiculous “duck and cover” drills of previous decades were before my time, the signs proclaiming my Depression-era middle school a “fallout shelter” were daily reminders. I don’t imagine we’d have questioned it too much had our teachers taught us how to get under our desks, tuck our heads and kiss our posteriors goodbye. We were already being taught by hip new media outlets like MTV that life was a joke and the truly cool cared about nothing.
Those teenaged nihilist themes warred with much more deeply rooted childhood messages, however, in the form of the well-meaning (including stories like “The Lorax”) to environmentalist indoctrination in school. I remember learning all about “pollution” during several weeks of “social studies” (a topic I’ve since learned is a euphemism for failing to teach “history” to our children) in third grade. I remember just how deeply concerned I became about the threat to the planet. I remember thinking that if we didn’t do something, we were all, well, doomed. I remember how powerless I felt. Very briefly, I was poised to become an environmental activist, out of nothing so much as a deeply seated sense of worry over the future.
This anxiety is the driving force behind today’s environmentalist activists. While I eventually came to my senses, developing an adult’s sense of realism and the ability to use basic logic, many wide-eyed children never realize this innate capacity for reason. Primed by fear, worry and helplessness at an early age, they become the hectoring, self-righteous, insufferable “green” cultists who spend their time trying to make you toe their environmentalist line. Previously in Technocracy, I described to you the spiritual fervor of these green religionists. If you won’t listen to them voluntarily, then by Gaia, they’ll make you listen by bludgeoning you with the force of law. Any violation of your rights as a free citizen is justified to the green religionists, because they’re afraid. Their anxiety, their helplessness, instilled in them from childhood, is untempered by common sense, unleavened by pragmatism and touched by neither logic nor skepticism. They are true believers. In their minds, the failure to believe individually is a sentence of death collectively. Seeing them as frightened children, reading “The Lorax” with tears in their eyes, how can we not at least pity them?
The problem is that when such long-rooted anxieties run unchecked in adults, violently deranged environmental lunatics result. The famous Unabomber was one; he was an environmental activist who at least lived as he preached, withdrawing into a tarpaper shack in the woods … but when that didn’t assuage his sense that something must be done, he started mailing bombs to people. Fellow green religionist James Jay Lee protested against those he believed were helping to harm his precious environment. He hated his fellow human beings so much that when he took up a gun to make his murderous point, it should not have come as a big surprise to anyone who knew him. He, like his fellow traveler green religionists, was motivated by a child’s fear and helplessness in the face of impending doom. “Do something!” is the rallying cry of all such activists, and violent outbursts are the predictable results.
When such activists – children in the bodies of adults – take political power, the violence done is not with guns, but with legislation. The American people are forced, at the barrel of government gunpoint, to comply with regulations that accomplish little toward the goal of “saving the environment” while harming the economy, infringing on individual liberties and expanding the invasive role of an increasingly all-powerful bureaucracy. The phrase “penny wise and pound foolish” comes to mind. It was a favorite of my mother’s when I was growing up, and no aphorism, no homespun cliché, better characterizes the busybody environmentalists who run our lives. It is this concept and these green religionists who have effectively banned the very light bulbs I was holding in my hand when I thought of Dr. Seuss. It is they who killed the promising hydrogen car while inflicting the wretched Government Motors’ Chevy Volt on drivers who don’t want to buy it.
If we don’t stop scaring our kids, we produce adults who are green religionists. When they take power, they pass bad laws. Denied power, they resort to violence. In every case, their anxiety is our responsibility. Worse, their fear is our shame. The Lorax may speak for the trees –but only responsible, reasoning adults can speak for the children.