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Jan Tannarome: Facts vs. beliefs

Jan Tannarome | Other Voices

There was commentary in Wednesday’s paper claiming that “enviros” are doing untold damage in the world because they use exaggeration and scare tactics to convince people of environmental dangers that do not exist.

According to the writer, environmentalists from Rachel Carson and Bill McKibbon all the way to Greenpeace have made pronouncements which have not only been proven to be untrue, but which also have done harm or caused risks to the environment and to the world’s populations and economies.

I do not know this writer. I don’t know what he has dug around in to unearth his ideas. I honestly do not know if there is or is not truth in any of what this gentleman has written. There is only one thing I know: This man believes that what he is saying is the truth. He has utter faith in what he is saying. He even believes that people who do not believe what he believes to be true can be clumped together into one group and labeled: Enviros.

This gentleman is not alone in the place where his thinking has gone. There are days when I find myself in his ranks. Because I, too, can easily substitute that which I passionately believe to be true for that which I should be standing in awe of as ineffable.

And no matter who is using belief as a weapon or as a shield, this is unforgivable. It is unforgivable on a scale of such magnitude that I can’t think of anything worse at this juncture in our human evolution. I will borrow a phrase from a frequent contributor to this newspaper’s pages and say that using belief as a shield or a weapon is the mother dog of all political mischief, all social and cultural malfeasance, all justification for hatred and its many offspring.

Can we all pause for a moment, take a deep breath, count to 10 slowly, and then consider this: What any one of us knows about this world is so very small, and yet, I would venture to guess that what we believe about it feels huge and impactful to us. We kill each other, call each other horrible names, judge and hate each other, not because of what we know.

We do these things because of what we believe. We have confused the energy that can get gridlocked into belief, with our role in the majesty of that which simply is. This world — this planet, this creation — all of it and all of us — is something we would be wise to be in awe of — and to work, dare I say together, where we are, with humility, respect and … dare I also say, gratitude and love, to make it a place where our children and grandchildren can thrive in peace.

Jan Tannarome lives in Nevada City.

Editor’s note: The pronouncements in the column critiqued were fact checked and are true.


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