Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Van Jones vs. Howard Beale

Van Jones, despite his avid support of turtlenecks, is a very likable fellow. He also happens to the be the "Green Jobs Czar" for the Obama administration. Is he likable enough to counter my contempt for neck covering garments? Not even close, but that is a different topic for a different post.

It may not seem like it at first, but both these videos are trying to achieve a common goal. That goal is to, how do I say? "Light a fire under your butt." Whether you seek to reconnect with those around you to improve communities en route to improving the world. Or if you want to instigate the rebellious nature that lies within each of us. The common message is that the dark seasons of our life are only made worse by our lack of action.

Van Jones has long been an advocate for the green economy (especially in urban environments) and this is to his credit. He seems like a genuine person, with smart ideas and knows how to communicate his thoughts. When he talks about rebuilding connections and communities and restoring our faith in one another (human technology), I want to jump up like an elderly black lady in church with my eccentric hat taking flight as I scream "Amen". This is exactly the sort of emotion the world needs. However, are "Green Jobs" the cure-all for the economy and environment? In my opinion, of course not. As long as you have a scarcity based economy, you are subject to greed, trends, bubbles and breakdowns. My opinion, in this case, doesn't matter. The green movement captures the good intentions of the human spirit and that can be the catalyst for a truly radical shift in humanity.

I could go off on my problems with our monetary system and the ever growing list of what is wrong in this world, but all that serves to do is to add black to the night. It's far more important to discuss solutions and find others willing to connect with you and work towards a better future. Obama was elected because people were fed up. We can debate whether or not their passion was misdirected, but there is no arguing that the world is still full people willing to do good work.

Good will and passion are excellent fuels for progress, but angst and frustration work just as well. Howard Beale's (Peter Finch's character in the harshly realistic, yet highly prophetic film The Network) possessed rant is also solution based, although appealing to a different sentiment. He implores his audience to not let the world get worse than it already is. Beale jars them out of their shell and exposes them for becoming complacent. Jones states that this current shock to our livelihoods was necessary for people to realize how out of touch we are with one another. Beale wants you to realize that we are still living human beings capable of acting out. Whether you sing "Kumbayah" or "Fight The Power" we all agree that things should be better than this.