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Increase the peace - share the pain

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Dear HCN,


Paolo Bacigalupi's NIMBY status used to sound more selfish to me in the past than it does now (HCN, 9/2/02: A NIMBY and proud of it).


The major reason for my change of heart is my awareness that there is more than one "self" involved in being a NIMBY.


His rant points toward the possibility that, if users, processors and suppliers somehow shared the pain of the service, extraction, manufacture, disposal, or what-have-you, there would be less pain to share because we would cause less consumption.


Exploitation of any environment sooner or later involves a cost, even to the end user. To avoid being so exploitative, each of us needs to be reminded that we share in several services which, because we want them at the best price, allow us to be exploiters, too.


We may be surprised to find out how connected we are to a particular service. I live in the Santa Clara Valley (please, not Silicon Valley) at the south end of San Francisco Bay, where we have just had a dustup over installing a new electrical generating plant. Unlike so many plants in the past, this one is natural gas-fired, so it will be cleaner. That means we will be even less aware, as we turn on our lights or write letters on word processing computers, that we are using this natural gas, which is extracted so achingly from Big Sky country.


It is increasingly obvious to me that pain is not always physical, but it is always shared. We need to increase the peace by sharing our burdens rather than increasing any separations between us. I heard a comment in the jumble of words honoring the trauma and recovery called 9/11 which will help remind me of the variety of ways I am connected to other people's pain: Am I living in a way that makes violence unnecessary?
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