[Mb-civic] Action for Endangered Species and...Optimism!....Howard Zinn

ean at sbcglobal.net ean at sbcglobal.net
Thu Sep 23 21:02:34 PDT 2004

This action alert is important and won't take long....and I hope you will read Howard 
Zinn's article afterward for a jolt of optimism....


The Endangered Species Act is a safety net for our nation’s wildlife, fish
and plants on the brink of extinction.  For over 30 years, it has provided
critical protections for endangered species and the places where they

Unfortunately, the Endangered Species Act, and the protections it provides
for our nation’s endangered fish, plants, and wildlife, has been under
constant assault from both Congress and the Bush Administration in recent
months and is facing its most serious threats in its 30 year history.   
For all those who support the protection of threatened and endangered
species, the time for action is now.  We owe it to our children and
grandchildren to stand up against these attacks, so that they will enjoy
the wildlife legacy with which we have been blessed.

Despite the fact that the Endangered Species Act has been one of the
nation’s bedrock environmental laws since 1973 and, according to a recent
poll, 90 percent of U.S. voters recognize the importance of providing a
safety net for wildlife, plants, and fish that are on the brink of
extinction, the opponents of strong endangered species protections seem to
be winning the messaging war.  We know better, the American public
supports a strong Endangered Species Act.

With this Representative Dingell, an endangered species champion who
helped write the original Endangered Species Act in 1973, has created an
Endangered Species Act Legacy pledge.  Conservation organizations are
working to get thousands of concerned citizens across the country to sign
this pledge and let the media and our elected officials know that we need
to be good stewards of the environment by protecting endangered species
and the special places they call home.  

When various threats arise to the Endangered Species Act, in the form of
legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives or the Senate or negative
administrative actions, the conservation community will be able to take
the list of pledge supporters to members of Congress and let them know
that their constituents support strong protections for our nation’s
endangered fish, plants and wildlife.

ACTION:  Sign the Endangered Species Act Legacy pledge.  You can sign the
pledge at:

Please also pass this alert on to your friends, family and colleagues and
ask them to join you in signing the pledge and supporting the Endangered
Species Act!

The Endangered Species Act is a safety net for wildlife, plants and fish
that are on the brink of extinction.  We have a responsibility to prevent
the extinction of fish, plants and wildlife because once they are gone, we
cannot bring them back.  Thank you for taking personal responsibility by
signing the pledge today!


The staff of the Endangered Species Coalition



The Optimism of Uncertainty
[posted online on September 2, 2004]
In this awful world where the efforts of caring people often pale in comparison 
to what is done by those who have power, how do I manage to stay involved 
and seemingly happy? 
I am totally confident not that the world will get better, but that we should not 
give up the game before all the cards have been played. The metaphor is 
deliberate; life is a gamble. Not to play is to foreclose any chance of winning. 
To play, to act, is to create at least a possibility of changing the world. 
There is a tendency to think that what we see in the present moment will 
continue. We forget how often we have been astonished by the sudden 
crumbling of institutions, by extraordinary changes in people's thoughts, by 
unexpected eruptions of rebellion against tyrannies, by the quick collapse of 
systems of power that seemed invincible. 
What leaps out from the history of the past hundred years is its utter 
unpredictability. A revolution to overthrow the czar of Russia, in that most 
sluggish of semi-feudal empires, not only startled the most advanced imperial 
powers but took Lenin himself by surprise and sent him rushing by train to 
Petrograd. Who would have predicted the bizarre shifts of World War II--the 
Nazi-Soviet pact (those embarrassing photos of von Ribbentrop and Molotov 
shaking hands), and the German Army rolling through Russia, apparently 
invincible, causing colossal casualties, being turned back at the gates of 
Leningrad, on the western edge of Moscow, in the streets of Stalingrad, 
followed by the defeat of the German army, with Hitler huddled in his Berlin 
bunker, waiting to die? 
And then the postwar world, taking a shape no one could have drawn in 
advance: The Chinese Communist revolution, the tumultuous and violent 
Cultural Revolution, and then another turnabout, with post-Mao China 
renouncing its most fervently held ideas and institutions, making overtures to 
the West, cuddling up to capitalist enterprise, perplexing everyone. 
No one foresaw the disintegration of the old Western empires happening so 
quickly after the war, or the odd array of societies that would be created in 
the newly independent nations, from the benign village socialism of Nyerere's 
Tanzania to the madness of Idi Amin's adjacent Uganda. Spain became an 
astonishment. I recall a veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade telling me 
that he could not imagine Spanish Fascism being overthrown without another 
bloody war. But after Franco was gone, a parliamentary democracy came 
into being, open to Socialists, Communists, anarchists, everyone. 
The end of World War II left two superpowers with their respective spheres of 
influence and control, vying for military and political power. Yet they were 
unable to control events, even in those parts of the world considered to be 
their respective spheres of influence. The failure of the Soviet Union to have 
its way in Afghanistan, its decision to withdraw after almost a decade of ugly 
intervention, was the most striking evidence that even the possession of 
thermonuclear weapons does not guarantee domination over a determined 
population. The United States has faced the same reality. It waged a full-
scale war in lndochina, conducting the most brutal bombardment of a tiny 
peninsula in world history, and yet was forced to withdraw. In the headlines 
every day we see other instances of the failure of the presumably powerful 
over the presumably powerless, as in Brazil, where a grassroots movement 
of workers and the poor elected a new president pledged to fight destructive 
corporate power. 
Looking at this catalogue of huge surprises, it's clear that the struggle for 
justice should never be abandoned because of the apparent overwhelming 
power of those who have the guns and the money and who seem invincible 
in their determination to hold on to it. That apparent power has, again and 
again, proved vulnerable to human qualities less measurable than bombs 
and dollars: moral fervor, determination, unity, organization, sacrifice, wit, 
ingenuity, courage, patience--whether by blacks in Alabama and South 
Africa, peasants in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Vietnam, or workers and 
intellectuals in Poland, Hungary and the Soviet Union itself. No cold 
calculation of the balance of power need deter people who are persuaded 
that their cause is just. 
I have tried hard to match my friends in their pessimism about the world (is it 
just my friends?), but I keep encountering people who, in spite of all the 
evidence of terrible things happening everywhere, give me hope. Especially 
young people, in whom the future rests. Wherever I go, I find such people. 
And beyond the handful of activists there seem to be hundreds, thousands, 
more who are open to unorthodox ideas. But they tend not to know of one 
another's existence, and so, while they persist, they do so with the desperate 
patience of Sisyphus endlessly pushing that boulder up the mountain. I try to 
tell each group that it is not alone, and that the very people who are 
disheartened by the absence of a national movement are themselves proof 
of the potential for such a movement. 
Revolutionary change does not come as one cataclysmic moment (beware of 
such moments!) but as an endless succession of surprises, moving zigzag 
toward a more decent society. We don't have to engage in grand, heroic 
actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied 
by millions of people, can transform the world. Even when we don't "win," 
there is fun and fulfillment in the fact that we have been involved, with other 
good people, in something worthwhile. We need hope. 
An optimist isn't necessarily a blithe, slightly sappy whistler in the dark of our 
time. To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on 
the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty but also of 
compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in 
this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it 
destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and 
places--and there are so many--where people have behaved magnificently, 
this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this 
spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however 
small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future 
is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human 
beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a 
marvelous victory.

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Action is the antidote to despair.  ----Joan Baez
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