Eight Simple Rules

Published March 8, 2014

I was never a big fan of the American sit-com starring John Ritter as an amiable single father, Eight Simple Rules (for Dating my Teenage Daughter). But lately I’ve found its title rather inspirational.

Blue Marble
A ‘Blue Marble’ image of Earth, a composite of photos from NASA satellite Suomi NPP on January 4, 2012. Credit: NASA/NOAA/GSFC/Suomi NPP/VIIRS/Norman Kuring

Allow me to propose to global capitalism eight simple rules for dating my planet:

  1. Put it back the way you found it.
  2. Be in by midnight.
  3. If you break it, make it right. (The BP rule).
  4. Pay your own way.
  5. Own your own behaviour.
  6. Don’t lie (or cheat).
  7. Drive within the speed limit.
  8. No means no.

Let me elaborate.

These rules are addressed to any person (corporate or otherwise) who asks to take my planet out for a date at the mines, the oil well, or the multi-acre Walmart parking lot. By all means, have fun, kids. Come home with a tattoo and a stray dog you found in the street, if you like.

Just follow these eight simple rules:

1) Put it back the way you found it.

How my planet left the house with you? That’s how I want you to bring her back. No missing parts. No permanent injuries. Not even any bruises.

To put that in clearer terms for those of you of corporate personhood: every square meter of industrially or commercially disrupted land must be returned to its pre-disrupted condition before you take your credit cards and go home.

If you can’t do that, don’t date my planet.

2) Be in by midnight.

Maybe you haven’t noticed, but we’re running out of a lot of stuff: farmland, water, oceans healthy enough for fish to live in, a lot of those ‘rare’ minerals that make your flat-screen TV and Android tablet glow so bright. We may not be running entirely out of oil and gas, but getting to what’s left is going to involve going to some very dark, lonely and dangerous places.

We’re also running out of time, especially to keep our heater from going out of control and blasting us all out of our seats.

I want you to think of those limits as a curfew. Stay out past them and things are sure to get very unhappy. So have a plan for getting yourself and my planet home before curfew, or don’t take her out.

3) If you break it, make it right. (The BP rule).

This rule got its name when a fellow called BP dated my planet back in 2010. British Petroleum had a reputation as a bad boy, but my planet went out with him anyway. Just a ‘three hour cruise,’ like Gilligan. Except the boat caught fire and went down and now my planet has third-degree chemical burns over some of the most luscious and liquid parts of her.

So here’s the deal: you want to date my planet, you better be ready to pay the medical bill in full if you let her get hurt. That’s all of it. No limits, no maximum, no ceiling. Whatever it takes. If you need to, buy insurance.

In fact, show me that card before I let my planet get in the car with you.

4) Pay your own way.

That’s all your own way. Not just dinner and champagne. The whole shot. That includes everything it costs to follow Rule 1 and Rule 3, about putting the place back the way you found it, and fixing anything you broke. It also means paying other people for their time the way you’d like to paid — and enough for them to have as good a life as you do. If you can’t afford to date my planet without someone else picking up the tab — the government, the help, the neighbours — don’t bother asking.

5) Own your own behaviour.

You say you’re a “person”? Act like one.

Do you have a bit of a sheet? What did I hear about you piddling your wastes on other people’s lawns? Anything more serious? Maybe a felony or two for serial landscape-rape or manslaughter? Maybe we’ll forgive. But first you need to disclose — fully.

If you’re hiding your criminal record, I don’t want you around my planet.

6) Don’t lie (or cheat).

This one should be obvious, but these days it seems you never know. So let’s get this one straight: If we’re going to have a relationship, it needs to be based on honesty.

That includes respecting all of the above. It means you’re not hiding your seedy past — or present. You don’t say you were just out for one or two with the boys when you got hammered and poisoned a whole river. You don’t eat-and-run.

It also means you don’t tell me you’re taking my planet out to the church supper when really you’re off to the rave. You don’t buy my planet drinks on someone else’s ID. You don’t feed her drugs. You don’t lie about whether you’re using protection. And you don’t make up stories about how my planet “likes it kind of rough.”

Lie to me just once and it’s over between you and my planet.

7) Drive within the speed limit.

It’s there to keep you alive too. So you’re rich, your car’s a Porsche and you just saw Wolf of Wall Street. It’s still dumb to ignore the yellow line and try to pass on a curve. Those rules and regulations are there to keep everyone safe. So don’t pretend that rules are just for losers. They’re really there to keep you from taking a corner at 120 and going over the cliff.

8) ‘No’ means ‘no’.

When you hear the word ‘No’, accept it. Don’t just back off until the chaperone’s out of the room and get all gropey again. Don’t slip any of those fancy new financial date-rape drugs into my planet’s drink, just so you can get your hands into her lakes and streams and rangelands. She’s had the lecture. She’s looking for love, not to get fracked.

Can you agree with all of those? If not, you can’t date my planet. You can’t take her out for oil, or gold, or to build a bigger mall. You can’t build a pipeline across her, run ship-loads of crude over her, or spray her with chemicals to “improve” her complexion.

Now, I’m not entirely crazy. I do realize that this is just a bit of my own fantasy. And of course I’m aware that really what we have here is an instance of (widely) shared custody. I’m not the only one trying to bring our planet up right and protect her from dates with only one thing on their mind.

So, any one with a suggestion for improving these simple rules for dating our planet, drop me a line.

Copyright © 2014 Chris Wood

Contact: cwood@factsandopinions.com