Thursday, September 15, 2016

Ecology and Edward Snowden

More dreams last night. This time they were about the house where I grew up -- the one my mom sold about a year ago. In the dream, we took down a wall in my dad's old darkroom -- which existed in real life, carved out of the garage -- and found another room behind it, much larger, with lots of windows. Through the glass I could see a tree crew cutting down the gigantic rubber tree that grew outside. (This makes sense, because we really did cut that tree down when I was young.)

A dream analyst might say that was about the hidden aspects of my dad's life or personality -- and loss, as well, given the destruction of the tree. Who knows? I'm not a huge believer in dream analysis but it was an interesting dream.

Speaking of cutting things down, remember how I questioned the destruction of trees and brush in Hampstead Cemetery? Apparently the same thing is happening all over London. There's been a governmental decree that London boroughs should examine their cemetery policies to ensure that there continue to be available burial spaces -- and in some cemeteries this has led not only to reusing existing plots, but to widespread clearing. (Or, one might argue, destruction of habitat for birds and wildlife.) I think it's deplorable. Why are we devoting valuable land, at the expense of ecology, to an outdated practice like burial?

The UK is already "among the most nature-depleted countries in the world," according to a recent report by conservation organizations that found one in ten of our wildlife species is threatened with extinction. (Apparently modern, intensive farming methods are the main culprit. But I'm sure cemetery clearing doesn't help.)

I am not going to go on an overpopulation rant. But you know how I feel.

In other news, I saw that some people are campaigning for Obama to give a presidential pardon to Edward Snowden. I'm of mixed feelings about that. I do think Snowden's case needs to be addressed somehow, legally, and he needs to be offered an arrangement that will allow him to return to the United States. Is an outright pardon the way to go? Or a plea deal offering clemency? I don't know enough about the relative costs and social benefits of his actions to say. But Daniel Ellsberg and Noam Chomsky arguing that a pardon should be considered carries a lot of weight with me!

(Photo: Rotherhithe, on Sunday.)


  1. Last night I listened to Oliver Stone on "Global News Hour" talking about his new film, "Snowden". The question of a pardon cropped up and Mr Stone raised the question - Who has Edward Snowden actually hurt?

    By the way I loved the odd Rotherhithe photo. To me with the colours, the apparent mundanity, the juxtaposition of its different elements, it really "works".

  2. Most people need a place to remember their deceased, I guess. And if a cemetery develops into a habitation for wildlife, it's worth it. Even if they now "clean" the area, the wildlife will remain. Otherwise this "valuable land" probably would be turned into an urban concrete jungle, not very desirable. Over here graves will be removed after a period of 20-40 years to provide space for new deceased.

    At a first glance the Rotherhithe photo looks like a painting, great!

  3. I think you're probably right about the secret parts of your father's life. Or maybe just more depths to it than you realized. Who knows? Finding a hidden room in a dream is something I've done.
    That photo IS really interesting.
    And if people want a place to remember their loved ones, they can remember them wherever their ashes are scattered.
    Just my opinion.
    We always want to believe that human "needs" whether they are actual needs or not, trump the needs of all other life forms.

  4. I heard a story yesterday about the Snowden Pardon proposal. I too have mixed emotions about it. Yes, some of the things he disclosed have led to important changes but at what cost. I think I'd rather see a plea deal of some kind.

  5. I've read that house dreams are about yourself and finding rooms you didn't know about is a symbol of emotional or spiritual growth.

    as for Snowdon, I don't think he harmed this country with any of his revelations as regards our national security but when your government is acting illegally and secretively towards it's citizens, the people need to know. whether clemency or pardon, I think he should be allowed to return.

  6. The only time I remember my dreams is when I've eaten something spicy, no matter how mild. Pizza often does it to me!

    I am more than 100% with you on overpopulation. So many of the world's problems stem from it. And yet we had two kids. It's hard for me to argue as effectively as someone who had none!

  7. I just read Bill Bryson's Rod to Dribbling (or some such name.) He seemed to think that England had all kind of parkland.

  8. YP: Well, that's exactly what I don't know. I think the intelligence community would argue that he hurt us all. But of course, they're a very biased source. I'd like to see an objective assessment of the damage he caused (if any) in order to weight that against the benefit of having the NSA's activities publicly exposed. A judicial inquiry or plea deal could help do that.

    Kaki: I understand some people need that place, but I don't understand that need. To me, our bodies are just a container -- just organic matter. The "meat bag," as I believe it was memorably termed by my Zen teachers back in New York. When we die, the container is what's left, but it's unimportant. It's not US.

    Ms Moon: I'm with you on the ashes thing.

    Sharon: It seems like an outright pardon runs the risk of encouraging more Snowden-like activity, which may or may not be a bad thing. I think there should be some consequences. But maybe having lived in exile for a number of years is enough punishment. A plea deal could essentially give him "time served" and let him return and start fresh, though many Americans would continue to view him with hostility.

    Ellen: It seems like keeping him in Russia is in NO ONE's best interest. Except maybe the Russians'.

    Jenny-O: Well, two kids is a reasonable number. If everyone had two kids the population would be going down. It's the people who have six and eight and ten that make me crazy. As I've said often on this blog, ALL of our problems stem from the basic fact that there are way too many of us.

    Red: I read that book! (Not as good as "Notes from a Small Island," in my opinion.) England does have its green spaces, but cemeteries -- particularly in urban areas -- are a valuable component of those preserved lands. To clear them for continued commercial use degrades that value.