Thursday, April 27, 2006

Candy Shop of Hate

I've finally finished this painting which has been languishing in my studio for a couple of years, waiting to be finished. I've been painting a lot this week, working on some new pieces for my "Faeries" series, and when I'd have a nice color mixed up I'd apply it the Green Thumb faerie too. Dab dab dab. Voila. I'm especially fond of the unkind-looking cat lurking in the flowers.

On another note, in my last post I admitted to sometimes secretly rooting for the planet to get even with humanity for vandalizing it so relentlessly. It’s an awful and senseless thing to wish. From a certain soulless perspective, I can’t help but see disasters and epidemics as tools of natural balance, and humans as a species of animals that is out-of-control overpopulated and needs to be checked. But then my humanity exerts itself and I think, the same thing that has allowed us to overpopulate, that allows us to supercede the basic laws of ecology, should enable us to... become better. We’re smart. We figured out agriculture, and how to survive winters in places like Siberia and Canada, and how to outsmart every obstacle the natural balance puts in our paths so we can have more and more babies... We should be able to also figure out how much we suck and GET BETTER.

Anyway, the day after admitting my traitorous allegiance with the planet, I read just what I needed to read: an interview with Jane Goodall in the new Sierra Club magazine. If anyone has a reason to root for the planet against us it’s her, and yet she has an extremely compassionate response to the very population issues that are threatening her beloved chimpanzees:

“There are many animal welfare groups that sometimes seem to forget that human beings are animals too and we need to include them in our sphere of compassion. There are people, particularly in the conservation community, who seem to have very little regard for the social injustices and miseries around the world. If you know enough about poverty and its hopelessness, you totally understand why people are cutting down trees and setting snares. If you know families ravaged by HIV/AIDS, or if you’ve been to refugee camps and seen the children, you have a new perspective. And then it’s irritating to find conservationists not wanting to bring people into the picture.”

Education is really the only hope. She points out that it has been proven, time and again, that once women receive basic education, family size starts to decrease. It’s all so basic, and yet so immense, such a scary-huge amount of education to provide! And I’m not talking about abstinence-only education, ye gods! But I’m not going to get into that. I just wanted to say how that magazine arrived in my mailbox just when I needed it, and Mother Jones came the very same day and damn, that is a good magazine. My love/hate relationship with my species continues, but it’s good to remember to hate the right people! (Tom DeLay anyone? Ooh, Rick Santorum, I LOVE to hate him! There are just so many, it’s like a candy shop of hate -- isn’t that a sweet thought? Probably not what Jane Goodall was hoping to impart!)

Yes, I KNOW hate is not the answer, but understanding, compassion, and hard work... to provide education, to provide stability that will decrease family size globally. But oy, the scale of such an effort makes my head hurt. WHY ARE THERE SO MANY PEOPLE????

27 comments:

Caroline said...

Powerful stuff Laini - I've had similar love/hate feelings about humans and myself as part of humanity. But you are right if we are smart enough to get this far we ought to be able to figure out the next leap forward too.

Susannah said...

Every time i think to myself that the planet is going to the dogs, i have to try and remember that there are people out there trying to make it better - for the human beings, the animals, the trees and the very air we all breathe. and, really, that should include each of us - if we all do our little bit, surely it will make a difference. a very thought provoking post Laini ~ Jane Goodall grew up in my home town, Bournemouth. i find her life an inspiration...

Rampian said...

Maybe we're smart because we're so darn adaptable. We're the best tool-builders in the world! But, in terms of spiritual smartness, we're probably about on par with our neanderthal ancestors. But since we're so adaptable, maybe we'll adapt to a more eco-friendly point-of-view. I have faith in our ability as tool builders, even if I don't have much faith in our spiritual advancement. Have you read Jane Fonda's biography? She's focusing her efforts on controlling population growth through the education of women. There are a lot of good people, working really hard, to push humanity in the right direction.

I was listening to the director of the new movie "American Dreamz" on NPR a couple of nights ago and he said though the Bin Laden videos scared him, he'd then think about Bin Laden filming them and maybe during the shoot he'd stutter, or burp, or the camera guy did something to annoy him, and then they'd have to reshoot. I remember the part at the beginning of "Fahrenheit 9-11" where Michael Moore showed George Bush kind of just sitting there, waiting for the cameras to be ready, and he looked like such a scared little boy---these ways of humanizing hateful people take away their power as monsters and show them for what they actually are: scared, unsure, weak human beings.

holli said...

I love Jane Goodall - I have a movie/documentary that her husband made from all of her footage.. "People of the Forest." If you haven't seen it - it's so magical. It's really such a tribute to her work.

la vie en rose said...

jane goodall has a compassionate wisdom that i really admire.

Shari said...

Laini, thanks for visiting my blog. How fitting that you are my first official comment, as it was your blog that inspired me to start! Love the green thumb fairy, especially Mr. Turtle.

As for the topic of over-population, there is the definite need for education regarding population control and sustainability, and I think that a large part of that is geared towards the developing nations, the uneducated. But what about educating the educated? In a lot of middle class/upper middle class circles, this is what happens when you have a child....the question then becomes "when is the next one?" I actually had a "friend" tell me to my face, that she thought I was selfish because of our decision to have only 1 child. I understand the perceived "disadvantage" of being an only child, but I also understand our limitations as parents as well as the overpopulation crisis. So you have the second child...if it's the same sex, then the question becomes "are you going to keep trying til you get a boy/girl?" As if it is nothing to keep popping them out like gumballs from a gumball machine, til you get the color you want. There is a lot of pressure...from family, from society to achieve the perfect family unit...Dad, Mom, Son & Daughter, and a sweet Labrador retriever to fetch pop's slippers while he reads by the fire. Like another milestone on the map to a perfect life. It's all mapped out and some focus so much on achieving the next goal that they don't have it in them to even look around. And if they do, it is only to compare.

"And why not?", the mentality seems to be if the family can afford it. To heck with the rest of humanity. It has become a way of life, to use all that we can get our hands on, if we have the ability to pay for it. It's our right...it's our freedom! Most know that the real cost is coming for future generations (all over the world)...we are starting to see the changes now, but it is not affecting them today, so they just don't care.

But I do think it is absolutely wonderful that Bush gave the large SUV tax break so all of these big families can go buy big monster trucks to cart themselves around! We are in an energy crisis, and he is handing out tax breaks to buy bigger trucks. What a guy! Eeeewwwww, don't get me started!!!
Okay, I have to go do some deep breathing.....

Mardougrrl said...

What Shari said, LOL. Seriously, we get that ALL THE TIME...and what amuses me is we get the whole "when is the next one?" question even as we tell people what a hard time we're having adjusting to life as parents! Geez, we've DONE our part to repopulate the world! Ahem...;)

I love the idea of the "candy shop of hate"...I am working, working, WORKING on my compassion and understanding, and sometimes I even get glimpses, but sometimes Bush and his evil cronies say something exceptionally infuriating and then I'm back at square one!

(I so love your artwork...it's unfair that you can draw like that AND write! Should I include YOU in my candy shop of hate? Nah...why deprive myself of you? :) )

Kim G. said...

Incredible artwork and thought provoking post! There does seem to be so much cultural pressure to have kids as Shari said in her comment. I hope that I'm doing my part to raise kids who will be parts of the solution instead of the problem. My son cried on his birthday because there were workers at the park cutting down trees. When Dad tried to explain that they had permission to do this, my little guy wailed, "But Dad, they're living things!" Cute, but I hope that that compassion and care will translate into habits and actions that will preserve more than consume.

Jamie said...

From this window to your world, it feels like so much is bubbling up. How wonderful you're painting a lot (Congratulations on finishing your Green Thumb Fairy!) and engaging with thoughts of compassion, vengeance, the planet, politics and people. It feels like a candy shop of wonders coming to your blog; you know you'll always get something fascinating to chew on :)

Patry Francis said...

People like you and your green thumb fairy give me hope that we will figure it out. It is so frustrating though; greed seems to control everything, and care for nothing.

chest of drawers said...

That´s a beautiful painting! I share your worries on the world´s population questions...here in Austria the government is campaigning for people to have more children because life span is increasing and there will be no-one to pay our pensions when we are old. I have 3 kids and I´m worried that they´ll even be able to find jobs when the time comes, not to mention my worries about feeding them so I can understand why many people decide not to have kids.
Then there´s the other side of the coin, I remember reading about a popualtion growth reduction project in Africa where (uneducated) men were offered a transistor radio in exchange for having a vasectomy done - when the radio´s batteries were empty they came back wanting to have another vasectomy!

Amber said...

I love love love your art. I wen to your web page again, and I just love your ladies, and your stories. I wish you would put together a 12 month calander. Ever think about it? Please?


Education is the key to so so so many things. And it is a big job, but don't lose heart. One starfish at a time, that's all.

:)

Alexandra S said...

Reading this post makes me feel very guilty that I just bought the new stretch hummer limo in classic white. But at least it fits 200 people in it, even though I guess that doesn't matter seeing as I only will be using it for work and to go on personal joyrudes all my myself! Seriously, it is so hard to balance Goodall's wise comments with my emotions because I find it hard to accept the extraordinary disregard so many have for not passing on our planet as healthy as we possibly can. Admittedly, I want to be more involved in healing the planet and increasing awareness and taking a lot more steps myself to act wise environmentally. I'm so grateful to people like Goodall who are so brave and equally important, committed. May we all be more inspired by them!

tinker said...

Love the Green Thumb Fairy (and her cohorts).
Maybe the latest oil crisis will actually turn into an opportunity for the planet to regain some balance: as gas prices rise, people will drive less. Food prices will go up because the truckers can't afford the gas; so people will grow more of their own food or buy from local farmers, which will result in even fewer truckers on the road. If people drive less because of the high gas prices, they'll stay at home with their kids more - they then re-consider having more of them (especially if they have to grow their own food to feed them)! :>)
I've always liked Jane Goodall. I like her even more since reading that quote. I imagine living with chimps would foster an unique philosophical perspective on humans...

Shannon (Sentimental) said...

I can understand and sympathize on so many levels. I appreciate your words and elegance of them as well as your artwork. I have always enjoyed that!

Anonymous said...

you speak my truths-- I do root for the planet first and humans? eh, not so much-- but HOW you write about it captures just how I feel and that makes me feel so good cause you are so cool and if YOU think this way, then I can't be a total loser, n'est-ce pas?

~bluepoppy

Kristy said...

Laini,

Do you remember Yawl Point? I do. It's me, Kristy. Would you believe I have a picture of you, me and Catherine in fine-late-70's fashion halter tops sitting not three feet from me?

How on earth can what started out as a Google search for "Ivy Cottage" (a local shop in my area) lead me to your blog (indirectly) -- ahh, it is a small world. Even if there are too many people in it ;-)

susanlavonne said...

I love everything about your Greenthumb Fairy but especially your use of color!
And as for the Human/Plant discussion...in a nutshell, this is a symbiotic relationship of course so everything/everyone is on the same team....win or lose I'm afraid.

Chrissie A said...

This is gorgeous! Very impressive work...glad I 'stumbled upon' your blog. :)

lizardek said...

This same issue has bothered me for years. Too many people! Too many houses! Too many cars! AAGH!

aithbhreac said...

It's interesting too that while there is an emerging recognition of a need for population control - at the same time, the messages from our society are predominantly pro-family. As someone making a (very thoughtfully, purposely and sensitively thought out) choice to currently pursue a life path which does not include motherhood (for reasons of the health of our planet and beyond), it amazes me the amount of resistance and flack I receive on a daily basis from colleagues, family and even friends who cannot seem to accept/respect my choice in this decision.

Earth Monkey said...

wow laini. this post is so great. i just had a discussion with my manicurist this AM about how outsourcing and taking job overseas (the race to the bottom, as it were), might end up blowing up in the faces of multi-national corps... giving the little guy, artisans, local farmers, alternative ideas and products room to grow. ALSO i read in VegNews that meat companies are warming up to the idea of cloning meat - which would put an end to all animal suffering - because they want a piece of the pie. So here we are... those who have been negligent actually contributing to a better outcome.

I hope Mother Earth doesn't break but a good sign that she is paying attention wouldn't hurt. People need to open their eyes to all that is happening to the natural world. It is all so overwhelming... education, policing health insurance companies and ending poverty are big fish to fry too and they seem like towering mountains to climb. I am not "hiking" like a marathoner but I am on my "nature walk" headed uphill. Glad to hear there are others on the same path who also appreciate Mother Jones AND Jane Goodall!... oh and I WILL join you in the candy shop on Tom DeLay.

just curious is this previous comment a "blog" spam... great no where is safe =)

Colorsonmymind said...

I think the painting is beautiful. I especially love the look on the turtles face and the leg/foot/birkenstock.

Great stuff.

Brandi said...

Laini,

That has to be a wonderful feeling to finish a piece that has been ongoing for years. I am bored with a piece after about 3 weeks so I suppose after a year I might have tossed it ;-) I am sure that will change with time.

There is nothing wrong with what you wished before. I sure love living here but I too find it very frustrating how rude humans are to our planet. Every time I see a little bird scrounging for food I am frustrated as I know they dont have food because we have overtaken their space. I also have birds that build a nest right above my front door and my husband gets so mad because they all poop right there but I just wont let him knock it down. I feel too bad. We took their space so our guests will just have to overlook the poop on our stoop and love us anyway! I love to hear them chirping in the morning! Brandi

Deb R said...

Can I just say "me too" to everything you said? Great post, Laini, and I love the painting.

andrea said...

I would just like to say "now" that I appreciate your passion and convictions. If we do not have ideals and opinions, the world would not be such a beautiful, unique place.
a.

Master Peanut said...

Hey Aunti-Laini... I posted a new post! Oh yeah, I like jelly beans!
Izzy :)