Derrick Jensen: High on Progress


Derrick Jensen is one of my heroes, his deep commitment to the natural world and opposition to the current destructive culture is unmatched.  His essay, "High on Progress" in the Orion Magazine May/June essay should be read by anyone who wonders how we can move beyond our current gridlock of ideas and actions for change.  Here is an excerpt:

"Most people today have not awakened from the Cult of Progress. Even with the world being dismembered before their eyes, nearly all public figures continue to be members of this cult. The same is true for many nonpublic figures—for most of us—as we seem unquestioningly to presume that tomorrow’s progress will bring more good things to life, and will simultaneously solve the problems created by yesterday’s and today’s progress (without then creating yet more problems, as “progress” always seems to do).

For those who benefit from it, progress is about improving their material lifestyle at the expense of those they enslave, steal from, or otherwise exploit. For everyone else, it is about loss.

Progress. In vast stretches of the Pacific Ocean, there is forty-eight times as much plastic as phytoplankton.

Progress. One million migratory songbirds die every day because of skyscrapers, cell-phone towers, domesticated cats, and other trappings of modern civilized life.

Progress. A half million human children die every year as a direct result of so-called debt repayment from so-called third-world countries (the colonies) to so-called first-world countries (the nations that have undergone progress).

Progress is polar bears swimming hundreds of miles to ice floes that have melted away, till finally they can swim no more. Progress is nuclear weapons, depleted uranium, and “drones” piloted from an office in Florida to kill people in Pakistan. Progress is the ability of fewer and fewer people to control more and more people, and to destroy more and more of the world. Progress is a god. Progress is God. Progress is killing the world."

Please visit Orion Magazine to read the entire piece, and check out Derrick's own website for more information about his activism.  And you can listen to an interview I did with Derrick for Writerscast too. Derrick JensenDerrick Jensen