Wednesday, September 11, 2019

#254 / Franzen (On Not Pretending Anymore)

Jonathan Franzen (pictured) has written a controversial article in The New Yorker. His article was published on September 8th, and is titled, "What If We Stopped Pretending?" Franzen's article mentions my hometown, Santa Cruz, California, and it specifically mentions one of our most beloved nonprofit organizations, The Homeless Garden Project

I was fortunate enough to have heard Franzen present this article in a speech made at a benefit for The Homeless Garden Project, on Saturday, August 24th. Franzen's speech was, I think, one of the most powerful personal presentations I have ever heard. I would like you to read his article! As far as I know, The New Yorker will let you have access to the article even if you are not a subscriber. Franzen's article should appear before you if you click this link.

Some people don't like what Franzen had to say about global warming. The Business Insider, for instance, headlined its review as follows: "Scientists blast Jonathan Franzen's 'climate doomist' opinion column as 'the worst piece on climate change.'" The Nation magazine has also published an article, by Jeet Herr, that takes issue with what Franzen has to say. Read those articles, too, and come to your own conclusion. Both Franzen and The New Yorker declined to comment on the characterization of his article by Business Insider.

As you might imagine, I think Franzen has the best of the argument, vis a vis the Business Insider. I think The Nation's article should be taken more seriously, but I end up not reading the Franzen piece the way The Nation has. Normally, I would quote something from Franzen's article right here, to let you know why I think the article is so important. However, I would really like anyone who reads this blog posting to read Franzen's article in its entirety. Click the link, read Franzen's article, and come to your own conclusion.

Franzen suggests that we are fooling ourselves if we think that we can "stop" a worldwide climate catastrophe. Maybe "theoretically," he concedes, but not "really." Having come to this conclusion (and he makes a pretty good case), Franzen ends up suggesting that it is this understanding of our current situation that can liberate us to begin taking action to make positive changes in the world. 

Making positive changes in the world is exactly what we have to do. And we have to imagine change on a scale that will allow each one of us to act, to do just that. 

A friend of mine, who had not heard Franzen present this article at The Homeless Garden benefit, read the article in The New Yorker and then immediately sent a bulletin to all her friends, urging them to read the article, too. In other words, my friend was making exactly the same suggestion to her friends that I am making to you. 

In sending me her bulletin, appealing to me to read Franzen's article, my friend said this:

Somehow  it gave me hope for the future of our world.

My reaction is exactly the same!

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