Pom Poko

June 14, 2020 |
Photo taken by @kihomizuno

For the month of May, my wife tried to get me to watch the Studio Ghibli movie “Pom Poko.” The length of time it took to finish was no fault of the movie and more so because I easily fall asleep. But finally, on June 5th, I had the energy needed to stay awake throughout its entirety. Pom Poko ended up being one of the best movies, in any category, that I have ever seen. After reading this, go out and purchase the movie if you have the means. This is one you’ll want to keep on hand for the valuable lessons let alone the beautiful animation. Pom Poko is circled around the Japanese mythology that raccoons are able to transform. The raccoons are the main characters in the story and they are working to drive humans away from their homes after seeing it destroyed and replaced by buildings. The human population is increasing and in need of more space to accommodate their needs. The raccoons pull out all the stops in an attempt to drive humans out but as we all know, humans are not easily swayed from their manifest destiny. The stoic philosophy asks us to “live according to nature.” My understanding of “living in accordance with nature” is to live a balanced life, only taking what we need and giving back what is due. I saw it described on modernstoicism.com as “live according to the way things are meant to change and grow.” This is the nature of the universe, mutual creation, and destruction. An animal dies and the circle of life begins. It gives back to the earth from which it came. When we over consume and take too much, when we destroy and not give back, we are not living as nature intended. The balance is interrupted. The overconsumption shown in Pom Poko is what is currently happening in the world. Our quest to consume is driven by companies pouring large amounts of money to make us believe we need whatever item that company is selling. Hasan Minhaj has a brilliant segment about the role fast fashion plays in destroying our planet in his Netflix show, “Patriot Act.” And that is just fast fashion. I’m currently living in Los Angeles, California. A place that usually has air quality so bad that you can’t see the beautiful mountains that surround Angeles National Forest to the east or Catalina Island to the west. Due to COVID-19, the devastating virus that claimed over 100,000 lives in the United States, people were asked to stay inside. Those fortunate enough to keep their jobs were asked to work from home with only essential workers going to work every day (THANK YOU!). This caused fewer cars on the roads, which caused the air quality in Los Angeles to improve like I haven’t seen in my 8 years living in this sprawling metropolis. A record was broken for the longest stretch of clean air quality in Los Angeles’ history.* Besides the air quality, something else started happening. Birds were singing and animals came out of hiding. Now I don’t believe we should live on the level of Snow White, but we have gone too far in the opposite direction. We can continue to innovate without destroying the planet and without feeding the machine that is going about doing the destroying. How do we live in accordance with nature? It’s difficult to write about living in accordance with nature and not touch on what is happening in Brazil to the Amazon Rainforest. The forest is being hewn down for lumber, agriculture, and mining. These actions put us in danger, not only because the lungs of our planet are being destroyed, but it also causes displaced animals to resort to scavenging cities for food, thus increasing the risks of diseases spreading to humans. I am on a quest to be better informed on the topic and don’t claim to know all the answers. This is why I seek out resources like Green America to educate me on the topic. Green America is rated as a five-star organization by Charity Navigator and has high levels of transparency with its finances. It’s mission statement is as follows: “Our mission is to harness economic power—the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace—to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society.” It’s mission statement is really cool because it isn’t asking to stop everything you’re doing and go live in the forest. Instead it asks that we be mindful of where we spend our money and how much and what we consume. I think we are all able to perform small individual acts that will contribute to us changing the planet. Here are a few things we can do differently: Avoid using products with toxic chemicals Be mindful of where we buy our clothes. Better yet (Invest in quality garments and if too expensive, buy used clothing which can be found relatively cheap) Lower our meat consumption Take more public transportation Reduce our use of electronics (scheduling in daily breaks where we turn off our devices) These are a few of the things we can do to lower our ecological footprints on the world. But the truth is, most of the greenhouse gasses come from companies involved in the transportation industry (fossil fuel for our cars, trucks, ships, trains, and planes), the electrical industry (the power we need to charge our devices largely comes from greenhouse gasses) and from businesses (companies need of power to operate). We have the power to turn our planet in the right direction. Although the forces that power big business will fight tooth and nail for survival, we have to put our planet over the financial goals of a few companies. I pledge to do the 5 things I listed above as a start and I hope you can join me. Check out Green America for other ways you can be involved (https://www.greenamerica…). Green America on Charity Navigator (https://www.charitynavig…). Greenhouse Gas Statistics - (https://www.epa.gov/ghge…) Check out Patriot Act - (https://www.youtube.com/…). Clean Air Record - (https://www.lamag.com/ci…)