Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Book Review: Depletion and Abundance
I share a phone booth with this week's guest blogger, the Green Phone Booth that is. Hannah, aka The Purloined Letter, aka The Green Raven, has offered to share her abundant thoughts on Sharon Astyk's Depletion and Abundance.
Leading the Way
"If we can take one message from Hurricane Katrina, it is that our government is probably not going to lead," writes Sharon Astyk in her new book Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Home Front. "It wasn't the federal government that was first on the scene in Hurricane Katrina. It was regular people with boats, or at least courage, who got out there and rescued their neighbors and people they'd never seen and would never seen again. It was ordinary people who tended one another's hurts. It was ordinary people who sought solutions. It was ordinary people who led the way, and the government eventually followed."
Astyk's book is a reminder of the power of individuals to make a difference in the world during times of crisis. In New Orleans in 2005, it was Hurricane Katrina. Now we face a global financial crisis, climate chaos, war, and energy depletion (peak oil). People are struggling to hold on to their homes, to pay for their groceries, to know what to do next. As Astyk writes, "Now it is the time for ordinary people like us to get out our boats again and lead the way."
If you are like me, this book will make you rethink your assumptions about population, about the separation of public and private, about the global impact of creating local economies. As Green Bean said in her recent review, Depletion and Abundance is both troubling and reassuring. It will make you have moments of panic and it will also make you commit to creating a just and meaningful life.
I finished the book with a feeling not only of hope, but also with a feeling of radical responsibility. What I love best about Astyk's book is her unshakable commitment to her inner ethical compass. Usually, I am very resistant to authors telling me to do what they think is right for the world. But Astyk combines belief in universal morals (like truly committing our lives to taking care of elderly parents and children, connecting with our communities, and helping strangers in need) with acceptance and respect for diversity. Instead of feeling like she is preaching at me, I feel like she is inspiring me to try to live up to my ideals and attempt to be my highest self.
I highly recommend this book. I'm thinking about buying a second copy just so I can make all my friends read it and yet keep a copy on my shelf, too, for any moment when I need to be reminded what power we have and how we must use it.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.
Recommended: For medium and dark green readers.