Well, I believe they are.
I also believe more & more of us know this is so – though very few will say so publicly. Even if they know it in their bones (as more & more of us now do). “Public figures,” I think, are simply unable to voice such a thought/belief out loud.
It would be very “unseemly.”
Biggest elephant in the room ever, eh???
I for one don’t need any public figure or “leader” to tell me what is as clear to me as the nose on my face. (I might add that in decades of activism, I have witnessed very little evidence of honesty & truth-telling by so-called “leaders” of any kind. Actually, very little leadership, either, as far as that goes!)
For the record, I did not come to this view lightly, or overnight. 30+ years of paying pretty close attention to climate change (& as an activist on quite a variety of environmental issues), with nary a sign of even a dent to widespread (both public & official) apathy/denial … not to mention the ever-hysterically-ramping corporate rape & pillage & takeover of governments & media … well … things seem just like pretty much the inevitable to me, really.
Listen: I don’t need to convince you or anyone about this. If you’re there with me already, you are, & if you deny it, nothing I can say is going to change your mind.
This is actually a musing on “What are we supposed to do we do now?” rather than an “I feel like I need to convince you” piece.
Life is still very, very good …. is it not?
The world is still surprisingly, stunningly beautiful & amazing … is it not?
In fact, is it not really a miracle, surely, that we are still here at all??? I am certainly inclined to think so! Considering the rate at which our species has cheerfully poisoned the heck out of air – water – Earth – food – our own bodies - literally, really, waging warfare on everything that is life-giving, life-sustaining & wondrous (as well as on one another, for millennia, of course) … I say it is a miracle we are still here at all!
So. There’s that.
What, then, are we to do?
Journalist Dahr Jamail says Climate Crisis Forces Us to Ask: To What Do We Devote Ourselves? <May 6/19> I recommend reading the piece!
You can also watch a really good lecture by him ‘Update on the State of the Planet: How Then Shall We Live?’
This long article, ‘So What if We’re Doomed?’ is also soooo well worth the read!! It’s long. Takes you on a bit of a roller coaster. Ultimately? It’s … cheering! Uplifting. (I kid you not!)
I say, let’s celebrate our incredibly good fortune in still being here! In being alive at all!
We can of course be sad (or angry; or both) about the state of things.
I am both of these things, & also fully in favour of really feeling the feelings that I feel … if you will. (Some of my friends seem to want to fast-forward through, or past, feelings of sadness & grief. Not me.) I think we need to really feel the righteous, appropriate anger & grief … which means going down out of our heads & into our hearts.
In this article, The Greatest Danger, Joanna Macy says:
“Acknowledging despair, on the other hand, involves nothing more mysterious than telling the truth about what we see and know and feel is happening to our world. When corporate-controlled media keep the public in the dark, and power-holders manipulate events to create a climate of fear and obedience, truth-telling is like oxygen. It enlivens and returns us to health and vigor.” – Joanna Macy
Some of us (I among them) indeed feel frequently angry about it all. These few short words can help us understand that, I think.
Now, I chose to spend decades mostly channelling my anger into activism … & I have no regrets about that. I’m still an activist, actually. (Why? Well, Activism Rocks! for one thing.)
& really, activism is so engaging, I recommend some form of it to everyone!
A thousand important things still need doing. Still need our attention.
I feel pretty sure we can’t halt climate change or even slow it down, now. I think it’s on, like, mega-mega steroids, & holds much deep nastiness in store for us & the planet already … even if we were to stop adding to the problem, say, last week … which pretty clearly wasn’t ever going to happen. In my view, whatever “tipping points” there were, we whistled heedlessly by quite a long time ago now. Please note too, it is not just climate change we are dealing with. Insane politics everywhere & many other environmental problems … all now acting synergistically. There is a lot going on.
Millions are hungry. Millions are suffering. Waves of climate refugees are on the move right now.
& there are an awful lot of ways folks can help.
We can commit time, money, our voices … or all three … to worthwhile initiatives that provide practical help to people who are alive on the planet now.
Do you know what the most valuable gift has been of my many years of activism?
The satisfaction of working with good people on worthwhile tasks.
Even when our efforts failed … as they all too often did, & do.
I generally just call the phenomenon solidarity.
The rewards are more emotional, almost – certainly intangible … definitely not material.
It’s about moving away from the illusion of separation … toward connection, hmmmm?
Albert Einstein said:
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” ~ Albert Einstein, quoted in The Great Turning – From Empire to Earth Community, by David Korten ** some more great Einstein quotes here
& Eve Ensler, this: “Separateness is such a delusional idea. What many of us try to work toward now is understanding that our bodies are not separate from ourselves, our bodies are not separate from the earth, and they are not separate from each other. There is this sense of binaries, of division, of brokenness. People are not understanding that they are part of the same human family.” “When you’re in community, you begin to not be separate. You begin to be your right size. You’re not too small and you’re not too big. You’re just the right size within that community. When you’re alone, you’re either terribly diminished or utterly grandiose, you know?” – the amazing Eve Ensler, quoted in an interview published in the Buddhist magazine Lion’s Roar, July 2019
The other night, walking along Bloor St. in Toronto, I saw this quote on a church billboard:
“Our deepest need is the need to leave the prison of our aloneness.” – Eric Fromm
& I think this is true.
Alienation, surely, is the biggest malady & curse among our species. Activism is an excellent antidote to despair & alienation!! Activism, btw, can take in a great variety of things! It just means DOING stuff. Helping make the world - or someone else’s life - a little better, or easier. To me, it just means being ACTIVE, as opposed to passive.
I wrote in my posting ‘Spiderwebs & Kool-Aid’
“If we’re going down the drain
(certainly looks that way, hmmmm?)
Please … can we at least do it holding hands??”
Let’s be kind.
Let’s be generous.
Let’s be grateful for the many blessings of our own lives …. & of Life itself.
*** For the record… The climate shit, I am sorry to report (I expect you have noticed?) is hitting the fan hard now. (See ‘Monster Climate-Change Essay’ here for a soul-crushing barrage of climate info, feedback loops, etc. And lots of climate impact news - enough to make one feel ill, almost - in the Near Term Human Extinction Evidence Group – a Facebook group you can find easily if you’re on Facebook; maybe even if you’re not! Forewarned is forearmed: it’s all pretty tough stuff. I don’t spend much time focusing on the scary climate news. It can certainly lead one to despair & dread, & I frankly don’t wish to spend my time in that kind of mental / emotional space.
As the author of the Monster Climate Essay, Guy McPherson, has said,
“The shit is no longer hitting the fan. The fan is covered in shit. The shit is hitting the shit.”
** Note: many good quotes related to NTE (near-term extinction) can be found here
These times are parlous, to be sure.
Let’s make good use of ourselves!
Helpful posting: ‘Do Something for Somebody Quick!’
** To be clear, for the record, I am not a “religious” person (in quotes ‘cos I am not really sure what the term means. It’s a pretty debatable term, I think. It may well not mean the same thing to you as it does to me).
Meaning, I have no expectations of heaven or hell when I die.
For me, it’s all about now. Making use of myself now. Reaping my “rewards” now.
I believe the time is short.
Let’s not waste it!
Whatever time remains.
p.p.s. I’ve been writing about NTE – near-term extinction – for several years now. Also, about grief. If you go the Collections posting here & scroll down, you’ll find plenty there – including links to quotations & resources (&, in the case of NTE, some graphics also).
p.p.p.s. As for the job of “connecting the dots,” I do not advise waiting for “leaders” or the mainstream media to do this for you. Nor the corporations, nor “the government,” needless to say. Not gonna happen!
It’s up to you!
Consider the facts.
& to be quite clear:
Yes: the truth is heartbreaking.
Absolutely it is.
But pretending it’s not happening?
Can that really make sense??
Seems like madness to me, to deny what is right in front of our faces.
It’s a lot easier to breathe, in my view, when you speak the truth.
I once heard Joanna Macy say:
“Telling the truth is like making oxygen.” ** lots more truth quotes
Totally resonated for me at the time. Still does.
p.p.p.p.s. I suppose it takes a while to digest this. Me, I’ve had decades of preparation … & I suppose I tend to forget that others are much newer to the party … as it were. I have made my “peace” with it. (I call it a “rocky” peace.) I hope some of the entries in the Collections posting (remember: it includes resources & quotations about both NTE & grief), can be helpful.
“When I speak of these struggles, people invariably call me “a downer” and “too negative.” I used to believe that was true, that I was being depressing by pushing these issues, but I have come to see that claim inverts reality. In fact, I’m the positive one—by placing my faith in our collective ability to bear the truth that is beyond bearing, I am affirming the best aspects of our humanity . . . Those who demand that we ignore the painful questions are, in fact, the downers—the people stuck in negativity, the ones who have no faith in themselves or others to face reality honestly.” – Robert Jensen in this article After the Harvest — Learning to Leave the Planet Gracefully