I feel like I’m living on Easter Island.
You can think of it as Easter Island Earth if you like. That’s how I am beginning to see it anyway.
About 900AD Polynesian peoples settled Easter Island in wooden sailing vessels loaded down with pigs and chickens and plants for food crops. When they first landed nobody was home. The island was covered with tall trees, palms and woody shrubbery. They moved right in.
Once land had been cleared for crops and people felt “settled in” one of the first orders of business was constructing a religion. Establishing an orthodoxy, a reality scheme to explain life and provide for ordering answers to the big questions like, “What happens to us when we are dead?”
For reasons we can only speculate upon the Easter Island folks settled on a “Cult” of erecting huge stone statues along the shore facing out to sea. Nobody knows why. But the “how” is instructive. As the population grew the manpower to carve, transport and erect bigger and bigger statues reached a zenith. More and more people were employed and more and more trees were cut down to transport the huge stone statues. One day they cut down the last tree.
I’m speculating that some time before the last tree was cut down somebody formed the Easter Island Green Party. I’m willing to bet that its members saw themselves as “Progressive” and talked about what was going to happen when they didn’t have wood anymore. No wood to cook with, or, make boats out of to go fishing and visit their wives families, on other islands, for the major holidays.
The Conservatives on Easter Island at the time were, as always, aligned with the “religious” in the belief that their Founding Fathers, the guys who set up life on the island in the first place, had the right idea… and it should be followed because it worked. The Priests were right there behind them in that belief. They saw no reason to change the way things were being done. Jobs were important. If people didn’t head off to the quarry to carve statues or get in line to yank them miles to the shore every day… what the hell would they do?
To cut a long story short, the Conservatives won. The last tree was cut down. The Green Party was defeated and, as it always seems to happen, the population realized all too late that they were screwed.
When the ecology failed the religion that depended upon it failed too. The Conservatives blamed the Green Party for disrespecting the old ways and causing the Gods to frown upon the Easter Islanders. The members of the Green Party said, “What the hell are you blaming us for? We TOLD you this was going to happen.”
In the end, having nothing else to do, the people did what people always do when faced with an unfixable dilemma. They scapegoated, turned on each other and in that age old human tradition known as, “It’s every man for himself”, they tore each other apart. Since there were, at this time, more Conservatives than Greens… (humans can be counted upon to become more “religious” in times of great stress) The Greens became known as food. When what was left of the Conservatives had eaten what was left of the Greens, things got REALLY conservative and they ate the “bad people” whom the Priests were more than happy to point out. After the population had plummeted and the people remaining had adapted to a diet of bad people meat, fish caught off the beach and whatever else they could scrounge from the surface of an entirely grass covered island they were visited by Europeans who, operating under an entirely different set of religious beliefs, presented them with the gifts of slavery, Jesus Christ and smallpox.
There is nothing much left on Easter Island today. Even the Conservatives are long gone. Tourists come to marvel at how a highly successful civilization could have been composed of people who were so abysmally stupid. When they ask the pathetic few residents who still live there what they think happened… they really don’t have an answer. They just shrug their shoulders and hope for a nice tip.
Can mankind learn something from this? Can Americans draw a lesson from what happened to the Easter Islanders, who failed to pay attention to a degrading environment? I don’t think so. That’s why I’m feeling a bit like an Easter Islander myself lately.
That’s the end of my story… and now you know two things.
1. Why I feel like I do.
2. Why Conservative parents the world over can be counted upon to instruct their children to… “Eat your Greens”.