A Date That Will Live In Infamy

December 7, 2011
Pearl Harbor

December 7, 1941.

70 years ago today, the US was attacked at Pearl Harbor in what would be described by US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as ‘a date that will live in infamy.‘  This attack is the event that precipitated the US entry into World War II.

A remarkable thing happened that day and in the years following it – people from the United States and around the world achieved what must have seemed impossible at the time; defeating the Axis powers on 3 continents across two massive oceans.  Nothing on this scale had ever been done before, nor has it since.

Pearl HarborWhen I reflect on some of the pressing challenges that we face in our society, I’m reminded of the incredible mobilization of people and resources that occurred in the wake of Pearl Harbor.  Entire industries retooled and worked in harmony to achieve a common goal – preserving freedom around the world.

Today, we face new challenges that threaten our freedom, and we must meet these challenges with the same fervor and dedication that our grandparents and great grandparents brought to the battle for freedom in WWII.

I have barely disguised disdain for the defeatist positions that I hear over and over again when discussing challenges we face with energy, climate change, economic inequality, etc. We have been lulled into complacency because we take for granted what previous generations fought and died for in order to give us the opportunities and choices we now enjoy.

For instance, a common argument I hear when working on the fossil fuel dependency issue is that we cannot do without fossil fuels, and therefore we shouldn’t bother trying, but instead should secure them from wherever we can, regardless of the potential for these practices to destroy the environment, to say nothing of the economic destruction this brings.

This is simply unacceptable to me.

Not only that, I think it’s incredibly disrespectful to the millions of people who gave their lives in WWII so that we could have the choices we now enjoy.

We have choices, and we can end our dependence on fossil fuels if we choose to. 

Is it going to be easy?  No.  But neither was fighting WWII.  It is possible? Absolutely. In fact, it’s inevitable, because fossil fuels will eventually be gone.

It’s certainly possible to drastically reduce our consumption of fossil fuels and be more mindful of the oil, coal, gas, etc. that we do use so that we extract it responsibly and do not kill our life support system in the process, leaving future generations with a mess of epic proportions.

It is our responsibility now to pick up the torch and use our collective knowledge, experience, determination, and resources to solve urgent global issues that threaten the future of humanity.

If the world could come together for the seemingly impossible task of turning the tide of WWII, why can’t we come together for what some suggest is the seemingly impossible task of saving our climate and ending the reign of fossil fuels without crashing the global economy?

We can.  If we choose to.

Our planet is in trouble and we need to wake up from our slumber, right now.

On December 7, 1941, Americans were forced to face a cold and harsh reality that we didn’t want to deal with. What happened in the 3 years after that tragic event proves that it is possible to wake up and retool if we choose to.

Every person on this planet makes choices every day that make statements about what we believe is possible. Every purchase we make, every trip we take, and every bite we eat. All of these are choices.

Every conversation we have with teachers, friends, co-workers, family, and others can either perpetuate defeatism or inspire others with a new vision of what’s possible.

Choose wisely.  The future of humanity is at stake.

What will you choose?


Photo courtesy of US Navy


  • Reply Simone Lipscomb December 7, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Each moment we choose what to think, what to send out to neighbors, friends, perceived adversaries, even lines we tell ourselves…. We create a personal myth and become so aligned with that self-created story we sometimes forget we can re-write it.

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