Nature, Art and Politics

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (Photo credit: Geoff Livingston)

Nature, it seems, must always clash with Art,

And yet, before we know it, both are one;

I too have learnt: their enmity is none,

Since each compels me, and in equal part.

Hard honest work counts most! And once we start

To measure our the hours and never shun

Art’s daily labor till our task is done,

Nature once more freely may move the heart.

Johann Wolfgang Goethe

I used to be completely unaware of politics in America.  That changed several years ago when I found myself working for a non-profit devoted to keeping manufacturing jobs alive in America as part of a national network, our focus area was the Chicago metropolitan area.

That work required that I be able to think and act as a non-partisan, and understand Illinois, Chicago and national politics particularly when I wrote grants for government-funded projects.  The non-partisan perspective has stayed with me.

That’s why I watched the Republican National Convention tonight, which to my surprise, was emotionally riveting at times.  I found myself crying at the stories of some of the common people who knew Mitt Romney as a decent and generous person.  Various speakers brought up some thought provoking points, and the odd appearance by Clint Eastwood made me laugh.

I was able to appreciate Mitt Romney’s talking points until he said that Obama’s goal was to lower the level of the seas and heal the earth as President, while his goal would be to help families.

To me, this is the same as saying that there must be a conflict between nature and art as we see in this poem of Goethe from the 19th century.

In the 21st century, too many people seem to believe we can’t care for nature, create jobs and build a strong economy.  The truth is that what we believe becomes true.

The creation of green jobs could have been a focal point of the last four years for Obama, but it wasn’t.   There are only so many changes any administration can push through, and healthcare ended up becoming Obama’s signature program.

Going into 2008, there was a momentum in the business world to create partnerships with government.  I had been involved in one of them and had such high hopes for what Obama could accomplish.

When the Republicans embellished Climategate (taking a position many large businesses did not share), Obama allowed the creation of green jobs to be put on the back burner for the most part.  I was telling a friend the other day, that it is a sad truth that it was easier to get funding for environmental projects when George W. Bush was in office than it has been under Obama.

In his speech tonight, Romney pointed to the fact that most Americans are not better off than they were 4 years ago.  This is not good for Obama’s re-election chances. Memory reminds me that Bush Sr lost to Bill Clinton because of jobs, and Jimmy Carter to Reagan too.  Romney is neither a Clinton or Reagan, but he might not have to be.

We live in a time when humans have the potential to find a way to create art with our lives working with nature, not in opposition to it.  This opportunity does not need to impede us from caring for our families or creating meaningful work.  Ideally greener work could build stronger families.

Tonight my sustainable heart saddened noting how little progress the federal government has made in supporting green and clean technology in America.  You would think if America could send a man to the moon in the 1960’s, we could develop renewable energy rapidly too!

I hope whomever the next American president turns out to be in November, will realize that we can and must care for the earth and take climate change seriously while working to create new jobs for our citizens.

Daily Contemplation:

What do you think of the idea that nature must clash with art?

Could you envision your art and work as a way of supporting nature?

Can you imagine a world where working with nature is an economic advantage for not only America but all countries?  (Hint: If you look at China and other emerging countries, they are investing more in green technology and eco-friendly businesses than we are.)

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11 thoughts on “Nature, Art and Politics

  1. Tea Party Slayer says:

    Enjoyed your thoughts on the RNC. I totally disagree that green jobs weren’t a focal point during the Obama years. Bush pretended to be interested in green jobs. On the other hand, Obama’s stimulus was the largest most transformative energy bill ever. It put almost $100 billion into several types of green energy – sparking state of the art electric battery industry and factories, the world’s largest wind farms, largest solar farms, zero energy border stations, the nation’s first refineries for advanced biofuels, investments in cleaner coal and a smarter electric grid, incredible new fuel efficiency standards that reinvent the American car industry, and more than 15,000 other clean energy projects.

    In the book the New New Deal, Michael Grunwald notes that the stimulus doubled America’s annual wind power output to 50 gigawatts, allowing us to keep up with China. In essence, Obama created 12 Hoover Dams with his wind investments alone. The maximum output of the Hoover Dam is about 2 gigawatts of electricity. The increase in U.S. wind-power output under the Obama administration so far has been 25 gigawatts — 12 times as much as produced by the dam. Under normal wind conditions, that’s enough to power more than 6 million homes with renewable, environmentally-friendly energy.

    It’s precisely because Obama has made actual significant inroads in clean energy that his opposition is so fierce. Politically ambitious Republicans teamed up with the oil industry to block Obama at every turn, willing to sacrafice American success and jobs for political gain and to stamp out green energy competition. In my opinion, these economic traitors should not be rewared at the ballot box for this behavior.

  2. jameskeeneyhill says:

    Nicely said. Green jobs are our only hope, but we won’t succeed without an awakening to human nature. Our drive for growth is the same as all other species. Every species would take over the planet if it could, but only we have been able to overcome nature’s attempts to force us back into balance. We need to wake up to this instinctive drive and channel the energy into green jobs – I just wrote about this in my first blogging attempt 🙂 Also, economically, I think we are better off than 4 years ago, when the teatered on edge of that economic cliff.

    • Karen Wan says:

      I agree with you on the awakening to human nature needed to move us forward with green jobs, I’m not sure if we are better off economically now than four years ago, but that’s what I’ll be watching the Democratic convention to see if it can convince me otherwise.

  3. Three Well Beings says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I watched the RNC last night and was “doing fine” until we came to that same point. I felt that mocking Obama for his position on environmental responsibility put me at odds with the message of candidate Romney. I know it’s all political games and the DNC will do the same, but I felt like I was suddenly not someone they’d want to be a part of their party. I can want strong economic growth and still want to protect the environment. If politics weren’t such a game we could actually be world leaders. China is ahead of us in green matters and has a horrible record when it comes to human rights. It’s a true mixed bag! I expect so much more out of our own leaders, but I’m usually very disappointed. It’s a sad shame! Debra

    • Karen Wan says:

      I particularly wish that the green agenda was not a political battleground. It seems to me that it’s the wise position for both parties is to embrace an environmentally friendly world My gut instinct is that we will somehow do this, I’m just not sure how that can happen now! Thanks so much for your comments Debra!

  4. sarafoley says:

    Obama’s goal was to lower the level of the seas and heal the earth as President, while his goal would be to help families…for God’s sake. Talking about pandering to the lowest common denominator – and some people really resonate with stuff like that. Looking after the place that feeds, clothes and shelters us is purely common sense. And why should Americans be better off than they were 4 years ago? this idea of perpetual growth is what got us into this trouble in the first place! Ahem. That’s my rave 🙂 Sorry about that!

    • Karen Wan says:

      That’s a good point, we can get too caught up in perpetual growth in America, rather than wise growth. No apologies needed with me, some of the ideas that we hear, just seem crazy to me too! 🙂

    • Karen Wan says:

      Deep down I do believe that business and government will eventually work together to create more green jobs. Sometimes I get frustrated when I think we could be faster about this! 🙂

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