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Rent Past Due

by on April 8, 2022

RENT PAST DUE

by Marco M. Pardi

All comments are welcome and will receive a reply. All previous posts are open for comment.

Still unsure of why he had received the invitation to the Diplomatic reception, Tonio moved carefully among the guests, watching for the roaming servers with their platters of drinks and hors d’oeuvres. He well knew every one of the young and attractive women and men were professional intelligence officers, hearing and remembering snippets of conversation, assessing relationships, noting drinking behaviors. Tonio felt a bit out of sorts in a quickly rented suit, not quite the de rigueur uniform of the evening, but he told himself it would fit with his legend as a Doctoral student working on his dissertation. He would have to actually write one some day but a partially written manuscript and several overflowing notebooks had always proved convincing. He also felt unease after coming through the metal detectors and submitting to a thorough pat-down. He remembered those dreams of discovering himself naked while lecturing his class. But that search procedure was SOP in embassies these days.

He glanced up to see a pair of breasts, followed by a stunning young woman, enter the room. Her diaphanous gown, not helpful in the sukhoveyi blowing outside, obviated the need for pat-downs but her stiletto heels looked lethal. Pudgy diplomats, consular officers and aides swiveled as wives stepped closer to provide them with more attention than they had received in months. Tonio could almost hear multiple prostate glands awakening after long slumbers.

Tonio’s apprehension proved accurate as a man stepped in behind her. Expensively dressed, late middle-aged, and experienced looking, he was a rogue former officer from the Agency, lately rising to the top levels of international arms dealers and rumored to be shopping loose nukes. Tonio’s mark. Tonio wondered how much he paid to “rent” this young woman, for that’s surely all it was. He did not fear the man would recognize him as Tonio was one of only a handful of specialists who never entered headquarters or any American embassies. But then it came to him. Someone was watching for his reaction. Fortunately, as a child in the face of withering criticism from nuns, he had adopted the life-long mannerism of flat affect. Thank you, Sisters.

You get more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.” Heard that one? Of course, I wondered who wants more flies? But we’ve noticed something; there are far fewer insects around. Pesticides, pollution, and climate change, all doings of humans. An international survey has found that from 1970 to 2010 world wildlife has declined by over 60%. And those insects? They are the bulk of the diet for birds and a multitude of other animals, large and small. The anteater is no small animal and not one we normally see roaming our yards, but we think of ants as pests to be stepped on, sprayed or baited with poison. Yet an ecological history of the world clearly shows us that we and most large animals would not be here were it not for ants, who continually churn the soil, preventing it from baking solid and becoming inhospitable to the plants which form the bulk of the diet for animals as large as elephants and as varied as primates, of which we are one. Ants also play a major role in cleaning the environment of decaying matter, reducing the probabilities of pathogens developing among the microbes forming the greatest magnitude and variety of life on the Earth. In fact, looking at the world as an ecological unit we see a fundamental principle at work: To get something, you must be prepared to give something in return. We humans have gotten much from this Earth. Sustenance, comfort, the ability to move great distances, the ability to reproduce in alarming numbers. We have exploited countless animal, vegetable, and mineral species. What have we given in return?

I have written several times of the damages we have caused, and which are accelerating day after day. Any readers who are even dimly aware are more than familiar with the seemingly endless examples and proofs of this abuse. I won’t repeat that here. Instead, I want to examine three popular positions which are at least impeding efforts to rectify the abuse and demonstrably worsening its continuation.

By far, the oldest position is that held by the religions jointly known as The People of the Book: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. While it is true that there are enlightened individuals* within each who are aware of the damage being wrought, (information appended) the fundamental premise held by all three is that a Supreme Being – by various names – created the Earth and all that is upon it and gave humans Dominion over it. Yet, while this mandate is made clear, there are few or no discussions of operating rules and instructions beyond the Go forth and multiply known to so many – too many. Whether there is or isn’t such a supreme being is for the reader to decide; the issue of concern here is the use to which this being is put in the furtherance of those behaviors which result from ignorance, stupidity, greed, gluttony, quest for power, or just the basics of what is considered a comfortable life.

Unlike the various pantheist belief systems found throughout the world, the People of the Book invented a mythology which accords an immortal soul, or spark of divinity to humans, but not to non-human life forms of any kind. This distinction became the foundation for utter exploitation, unspeakable cruelty, and extinction causing damage to any form of non-human life. (Unnoticed by many, while in the Garden Adam and Eve were apparently vegan.) Even today there are “scientists” who subscribe to the view that humans are the pinnacle of creation.

Underlying this foundation is the insidious belief that human presence on Earth is just a trial, a place to learn some divine curriculum so we can then progress to our true home, which is not of this Earth. And each of these three mythical systems has its End Times literature involving the apocalyptic misery and death of all life on Earth. Just passing through. We can’t be concerned with the destruction in our wake. And, a small but vocal element particularly within Christianity, believes that the supreme being will intervene – Divine Intervention – before the Earth is totally ruined. After all, in their view the entire universe is only a backdrop for the prized creation we call Earth.

A second position is held and espoused by people who seem possibly to have had a Physical Science course in junior high school. Maybe. Or, in reading their comic books and watching old Flintstones cartoon re-runs they were exposed to simplistic “geologic history”. They learned of geologic epochs, major extinction events, radical shifts in climate and, for the really advanced learners, periodic wobbles of the Earth on its axis. Thus armed with “indisputable evidence” they proclaim that the climate changes we are now seeing are simply part of natural cyclical events and are not the result of human activity.

While the evidence of natural events, including cycles, is obviously there, any trial attorney will tell you the value of evidence lies in the hands of the user.

A third and rapidly growing position is one which is very likely unknown to many people. It could be said to be an extension of the second position, cited above, were it not for its applications elsewhere. It is known by the term applied to its followers: “DOOMERS”. Haven’t heard of it? Go ahead, Google Doomer. I’ll wait………..

Doomers have been around perhaps as long as humans have noticed threatening events in their environment, whether volcanoes, tsunamis, hurricanes, comets, or politicians. In recent times we’ve seen them build crude to elaborate bomb shelters during the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis, we’ve seen the stupendous market value of Survivalist paraphernalia including dehydrated food, bottled water and firearms, and the surge in off-road capable vehicles – 95% of which never leave the roadway except by accident. None of the aforementioned materials were cheap, so there is likely a certain amount of welcome to the dire reports coming out frequently about environmental collapse. So, having missed out on Divine Rapture, nuclear winter, and invasion by foreign job seekers focus may then be turned to planetary environmental catastrophe. The position is that, whether through the divine fury of a loving god or through the natural processes of an uncaring Mother Nature those guys on the streets with The End Is Near signs are right. This justifies keeping all that material in working order. See, I told ya’.

The economic benefit Doomers provide by buying expensive stuff and building safe rooms and shelters is offset by the damage wrought by their message. Essentially, they are saying that regardless of cause there is no use in trying to contain or reverse environmental damage. It’s a Dance ‘Til You Die message. And, it’s based on an extremist interpretation of the data. The Environmental Defense Fund, in reviewing the latest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, quotes: “Accurate transference of the climate science has been undermined significantly by climate change counter-movements, in both legacy and new/social media environments through misinformation.” The EDF goes on to say, “The scientific community agrees that we already have the solutions and technology necessary to tackle climate change and, if we implement them quickly, we can avoid worst-case scenarios. Over 97% of climate experts agree humans are causing global warming. It may be surprising, but many Americans still don’t know that there is so much evidence that humans are causing global warming that scientists have stopped arguing this point. In fact, most studies find around 97% consensus among publishing climate scientists. And the greater the climate expertise, the higher the consensus.

Although they may not always realize it, all three of the movements, groups, institutions cited above are well funded and supported by the industries most responsible for the damage being done to our planet, most notably the fossil fuel industries. They are knowingly playing to the tendency to say, “It isn’t my doing. What I do can’t make that much difference. I might as well enjoy life while I can and let someone else worry about it.”

Well, let me introduce myself: I’m that someone else. As a parent and grandparent I will not hand my descendants the damage caused by my inaction. As a resident of this planet I will not destroy the home shared by innumerable other residents, be they human or non-human, animal, vegetable, or mineral.

We’ve been living on this planet rent free for millennia. Our LandLady, Gaia, is serving us notice: RENT PAST DUE.

These posts are read in several countries though the responses tend to come from a steady group. If you are uncomfortable with or afraid to post a comment I would like to ask a small favor: Please forward this to someone who might respond.

Just one of many faith based organizations addressing climate change honestly. *Interfaith Power and Light
672 13th Street Suite 100 | Oakland, California 94612
510-444-4891 | info@interfaithpowerandlight.org

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13 Comments
  1. I’m taking an unusual step of adding material here. Many people are concerned over the high world gas prices associated the gasoline production slow down during the height of covid and now with Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Not mentioned so far is the fact that Ukraine, perhaps since domestication began, has been the regional source of wheat, barley and other agricultural staples. It has long been a major player on the world market. The Russian destruction of whole villages and their driving civilians out of the country will soon have an effect: no one to work the agricultural sector. No sense worrying about affording the gasoline to drive to the grocery store once the shelves are bare or stocked with items too expensive to afford.

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  2. mkdohle permalink

    Thanks for posting, very interesting. Like how I was drawn in by the story line at the beginning……..As usual still learning from you.

    peace Mark

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  3. Thank you, Mark. I am so glad you found it interesting, and that you had time to respond. I think of you often and hope you are well.

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  4. Ray Rivers permalink

    Marco – so glad you have chosen to lend your quill to this topic. As you know, it is one for which I, too, share your passion. Global warming is a complicated enterprise. However much of the damage for everyone’s future can be arrested simply by reigning in our use of fossil fuels. And that means ending its usage sooner than later. Since you mention the Ukrainian conflict, it should be noted that it has forced another European nation, Germany to reconsider its obsession with Russian natural gas as an energy source. Perhaps, if the Germans make the right decision this may be the only good thing to come out of that war.

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    • Thank you, Ray. I think the oil and gas industries will be here for a while since their products are used in so many applications besides fuel. But certainly they have the money to become leaders in the development of non-fossil fuel usage such as wind, solar and other technologies. They can slightly alter their brand by simply declaring themselves energy companies. I do not understand why they are not doing that. Their current profile is nothing more than a necessary evil, but they could turn that around.

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  5. Dana permalink

    Marco, I’m always happy to read a new excerpt from Tonio’s untold stories. Sometimes I feel nervous for him as though the account is happening in real time. Those wretched Twisted Sisters. I can’t help but feel protective of little Tonio, although we know from Reflections he was a force of nature from an early age. Yet at least something came from the Sisters’ abuse and criticism (flat affect). Thankfully my kindergarten and first grade teachers, also nuns, were kind and decent. Less than a decade later the Mack Fords and Nora Carters in Arcadia, Louisiana made up for that. But like Tonio, those horrendous circumstances helped me develop what could have been life-saving skills. This included mimicking various U.S. Southeastern accents so I wouldn’t sound Canadian. It must have been my own intuition, because I don’t recall having any knowledge that I could have disappeared in some of the most dangerous times outside of the compound. Being Canadian might have meant being that much harder to find had I been abducted. That was absolutely a risk when we were traveling and staying with complete strangers. Interesting what children and adolescents can do as they adapt and try to survive horrific situations. Tonio’s resilience always astounds me.

    From twelve to sixteen years old my “education” was abysmal; I was mostly self-taught using A.C.E. (Accelerated Christian Education) curriculum. “School of Tomorrow” learning centers are still all over the world. I was practically obsessed with math and science from an early age, and in the third grade I decided I was going to be a geologist. That would have been a terrific path for me, especially with my deep connection to our planet and how much satisfaction I gained from exploring it. Today I wish I still had my collected items such as fossils I found on the Saskatchewan prairies and a container of ashes I saved from Mount Saint Helens. Astonishing that it drifted all the way to the Canadian midwest. Others had different ideas for my future.

    I was deeply disappointed in the homeschool curriculum, especially the “science” portions. It was insultingly simple-minded, ridiculous, and obviously erroneous, placing dinosaurs alongside Adam and Eve. Thankfully I had the public library to assist me as I sought the truth. The cult groomed girls to be preacher’s wives and at-home mothers. I try never to wonder what “might have been” as a career path, since nothing in the world could have been more fulfilling than being at home with my two children in my early twenties. Yet surprisingly even with that curriculum my ACT scores were in the top fifth percentile, the exam taken at the University of Regina when I was sixteen. I took public transportation to the campus for the exam and walked the grounds afterward, wishing I were enrolling there instead of Pensacola Christian College a few months later. Of course PCC is a cult and has not changed an iota since 1987 when I was there. More biblical myths taught as fact, and AIDS was a plague from “god” directed at gay men. Never mind that AIDS was caused by HIV, which of course was never mentioned. Thankfully toward the end of my second semester I was expelled from the college, having been targeted by “instructors” and the Dean of Women from the beginning. What a relief.

    For years prior to that I was taught to “love the ‘Creator,’ not the creation.” How I managed never to adopt that belief system surprises me even today. From an early age I decided “heaven” wasn’t for me since non-humans are apparently barred from entering the Pearly Gates. In fact, that may have been a large part of the reason I refused to be brainwashed, because never for one moment did I feel humans were the pinnacle of Earth’s inhabitants. However, I was deeply traumatized by the Rapture “Armageddon” films repeatedly watched over the course of several years. Despite my disbelief that some humans don’t have to die, I feel those films may be why I have very little ability to imagine my own future beyond a few days. It was drilled into us that we could be “left behind” if we weren’t truly “saved.” Those who wait for the Rapture even today care very little about the plight of our planet.

    Sadly, the pandemic and PTSD have left me feeling numb much of the time. While not deliberately apathetic, I do often find myself going through the motions of life. This can result in cognitive dissonance which leads to deep sadness and shock at my inaction. The choices we make are absolutely part of the larger picture even if we can’t always imagine or see it. I suppose we can liken this to people without homes throwing litter everywhere but the trash receptacle. When life is exhausting from existing in survival mode, why expend more energy caring for the surrounding environment? When I consider who I was in my twenties, I would really like to be that same person in certain aspects today. It isn’t impossible, but it does require consistency and dedicated effort. Even eating wholly plant-based is something I find difficult during the most challenging periods of life. I’m not the worst case scenario, but am fully aware of the areas in which I fall short. I was obsessive in my twenties, digging paper and other recyclables out of the trash when family came to visit. I’ve made decent choices, such as making the switch from owning a car to using public transportation and walking everywhere when I moved to Midtown. Balance is healthier for me rather than an all or nothing obsessive approach. We can all do better, and no one is perfect.

    This is climate catastrophe, not “change.” We can no longer settle for anything less than words that clearly define the truth. What’s happening in Antarctica is beyond alarming. And I would be shocked at the glacial decline from 1970s and 80s family photos in Banff, compared to what we see now. I also hope you will continue to share what may be our future in terms of National Security and other growing threats as the catastrophe accelerates.

    By the way, the majority of Canadian children in the 70s and 80s watched The Flintstones every weekday at 12:30. I found your reference amusing, since I’m still really nostalgic about my childhood T.V. routines.

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    • Thank you, Dana. Your history supports my feeling that we are each living a “plan”, though I do not subscribe to some supreme planner or supreme being. My studies and my experiences have shown me that many people with experiences similar or even coming close to yours become statistics as early suicides or life-long addicts – a slow motion suicide. You have an amazing inner strength and it is always my hope that what you write, whether here or elsewhere, inspires others to look within themselves and discover theirs.

      Your suggestion that we examine and discuss National Security is quite thought provoking. I will do my best to discuss what I can.

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      • Dana permalink

        Marco, thank you. I know I can venture into stream of thought but I also know this is a safe space for it. Truthfully, I can’t imagine writing anywhere else except here in my comfort zone. I’m ever grateful for the encouragement to do so.

        The future is vexing, and so much has happened since I met you over a decade ago. Much of it wasn’t without warning on your part, including the certainty of a deadly pandemic.

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  6. jkent33 permalink

    Being born in WV who is known for some of the worst offenders to our delicate eco system provided me with awareness long before it was wide-spread to others.

    WV is known for their excellent regions filled with abundant natural resources that have provided the state with industries like none other. Greed and poor planning failed to carry West Virginians to the opportunities that were obvious to everyone who ever visited. Especially true after WWII when the federal Govt stepped up to the plate to rebuild our nation after several year of neglect from over use.

    As an example OH used their funds to build reservoirs and industrial parks to rebuild our factories and extend our work forces to diversify to civilian goods and services. I was fortunate to become acquainted with a gentleman who early on noticed WV allowed their crooked politicians to squander those precious Federal funds through schemes to actually steal those funds. So during the decades that followed WV allowed coal companies and chemical companies to construct plants that polluted the streams, mountains and other natural resources that takes us to where we are today. Nothing has changed since that period leaving WV to decline deeper and deeper into wasted landscapes. In fact their current governor is known a tax cheat and also has tentacles in the coal industry as I write.

    I first leaned of widespread pollution and abuse when the word “acid-rain” was on everyone mind pointing the finger to WV. Don’t get me wrong the surrounding states are as guilty as WV but its more widespread. I have great concerns that started early in my life to where we are today on what is going on around us that have impacted us in ways I never considered in those days.

    Now with the knowledge of the climate changes we see before us, I can only hope my small contributions to society are remarkable enough to be noticed. I’ve even given in to my strong love of motorcars, to accept that when the time comes to abandon them it will be a quick and decisive acceptance. Sure tears will be shed but I will still be able to get around and live knowing the air, water and other resources to keep me warm and cool will not totally upset others. I can only hope the idea of change catches on and others continue to lead as happy a life as possible.

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  7. Thank you, Jerry. I’ve been to West Virginia several times, doing studies with retired coal miners greatly affected by Black Lung Disease. They were unanimous in saying the coal companies clearly told them that coal dust was good for them, and that coal oil was an excellent tonic for sore muscles. I’m quite sure that many if not most of them are dead by now.

    Nonetheless, I did see some beautiful countryside, except of course where coal companies had removed the tops of mountains, polluted and blocked the streams with run-off, and left dead forests and vast open-pit mines rivaling any meteor crater we might find anywhere. It looked like the worst environmental damage I had seen anywhere beyond the old Soviet Union.

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  8. When reading this for the first time, I was immediately reminded of Joseph Campbell’s “The Story of Indra”, with which I am sure you are familiar. I sought out the video on line, and was pleased to be able to hear it once again in his voice. What a wise man he was! The line I remember best from the rendition is “Former Indras All”. Another choice bit of wisdom was “Each of us is, in a way, the Indra of his own life.” I’ll leave it to the reader to find and experience this story if he/she so desires, but I will say that it had a great effect on my own way of thinking.

    An Indra is the Hindu ruler of Heaven and the gods, and as such is the wielder of great power. The story speaks of being cast from that power, becoming again the lowest of creatures; within the story, this creature is an ant. It reminds me that power without limit is a dangerous thing, and that none of us is greater than any other in the truest sense. It’s our job in this world to do whatever we can to help one another. To remain aware of this, and as a constant reminder that we are indeed the Indra of our own life, a metal ant (maybe an inch long) guards my front door. It’s our job to protect the world in which we live, and to help the other beings (human and non-human) who live in it with us.

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  9. Thank you, Rose. Yes, Joseph Campbell. I’m sure you remember the Continuing Education mythology classes I taught using his series The Masks of God. So clear, so obvious. Yet we often don’t see the things right before us. Remember the saying, “If it had been a snake it would have bitten me”? It seems we go through life looking, but rarely seeing.

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