We wondered about how we might be able to eliminate plastics from our day to day routines, and recycled literally everything. We were amazing, you should have seen us. Now and again though, we wondered if these were the right questions.

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Ben Carpenter
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To my brother’s children,

Your father and I did the best we could with what we had. I was living in Kansas City at the time, and he was in DC. He made videos, I facilitated online arguments between strangers.

Mitigation became a word we used a lot, because that’s all that can be done with the inevitabilities handed to a person. Mitigation is also all that the moral paralysis of a representative democracy allows, and I’m not just pointing fingers at the denialists.

We mitigated our personal carbon footprints by foregoing meat and riding bicycles to work. We wondered about how we might be able to eliminate plastics from our day to day routines, and recycled literally everything.

We were amazing, you should have seen us.

Now and again though, we wondered if these were the right questions to be asking. To ride a bike for political reasons, however fun and correct, still seemed like a privileged position compared to those we saw at daybreak, pedaling down the sidewalks on cheap bikes, ball caps pulled low over puffy eyes; or even compared to the beat-to-hell Saturns from the far eastern neighborhoods. Farmers markets, CFL light bulbs and reusable shopping bags became symbols dripping with class and racial tension. But it was hard to have those conversations; conversations about webs we’re all caught in as dense and old as empire. Maybe it is true we have to mitigate our political goals, the Dems have to win in 2018 midterms after all. So we mitigate our carbon footprints, and your father plans to install solar panels on Mom and John’s home in Hunt, where we’ll live someday. Way out there, we can remove ourselves from complicity with the impending destruction of the planet as best we can.  Maybe you’re reading this on their porch. How’s the garden?

I still feel that if our hands are clean, our feet are still wet. The work is not done, and what is done will never be sufficient. This is a condition of honest self reflection. There is no end to the webs you, my brother’s children, are tangled in. Power never goes away, it just changes. Figure out our blind spots and start there.

Enjoy the sunsets,

Uncle Ben

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