Letter: Response to Finding Meaning Column

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Mr. Hellewell’s take on the Cold War (Finding Meaning, June 23 Indy edition) relies upon conservative ideology, not history. His choice to prominently quote both President Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is a red flag, as they were instrumental in ushering in neoliberalism and the largest transfer of wealth to the top 1% of society in all of human history.

The violent, materialistic police state created by Lenin and Stalin was not Marxist. Its collapse resulted from incompetence, corruption and economic disintegration. This was no moral victory. Russia quickly devolved into a kleptocracy with zero concern for the Russian people.

A former KGB officer, Vladimir Putin, rose to leadership in league with a handful of oligarchs, creating a gangster government now destroying Ukraine. Deng Xiaoping did not “move away from socialism.” His economic reforms were “socialism with Chinese characteristics,” and the Communist Party that acted brutally in Tiananmen Square in 1989, under his rule, has remained in tight, single-party control of China (now including Hong Kong) and has created the world’s most comprehensive surveillance state. If there is a society-wide “innate moral instinct” capable of ending the Cold War, how could the Cold War come into being?

After all, what is considered “moral” in one culture is anathema in another. The ever-present alarm from society’s moralists is that today’s cultural decay is a unique challenge and existential threat, but that has been a constant refrain for two millennia. Mr. Hellewell’s characterization of rational and concerned advocacy, based upon solid science, for reducing carbon emissions to preserve a livable climate as an amoral, anarchic, anti-democratic war against the “blessed” fossil fuel industries, I find bizarre. The “bounty” he refers to is dangerously heating the atmosphere, while the companies that continue to dishonestly portray it as safe are immunized from being held responsible.

I recommend to Mr. Hellewell Pope Francis’ May 5, 2015, encyclical Laudato Sí, which calls our Earth “a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us,” to whom we owe respectful, sustainable stewardship, not no-holds-barred extraction. The fossil fuel industry is behaving like a slumlord extracting every penny possible from an apartment until it deteriorates to the point that it collapses in on its unfortunate tenants, not like a loving son or brother.

Gary Stewart, Laguna Beach

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