17 February 2019

the fierce urgency of now

"Of all the dangers we face, from climate chaos to nuclear war, none is so great as the deadening of our response."
Joanna Macy

When I wrestle with sleep after reading another set of reports on climate change I usually get to the point where I try soothing myself with something along the lines of, oh but we got this.
For years I have edited and translated enough papers on food sovereignty, biodiversity, the rights of peasant farmers, alternative pollinators, ancient seed knowledge and more, to boldly agree with science that yes, women peasant farmers can feed the world.
Yes. This is a fact, not a dream, I did my research. It's made almost impossible to reach by greed of course, but the potential is there. And potential is something to hold on to. At least when sleep won't come. Surely.

I am listed as a member of our local transition town group, although I've never been to any event but I pretend it helps if I stay up to date via their mailing list.
In my sleepless nights, I whisper to myself, that my family, my friends, their friends, we are resilient, we are gardeners, farmers, growers, carpenters, electricians, teachers, thinkers, crafts people, when faced with hard times, we have always pooled resources, shared skills, looked out for each other.

And, so I used to tell myself, by the time when we will (most certainly) find ourselves in a remnant civilisation struggling with the dramatic effects of climate change, we will have this to rely on, community, skills and tools, seeds and soil and biodiversity.

But no, only a dream after all because, fuck this, insects.
"The world’s insects are hurtling down the path to extinction, threatening a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”, according to the first global scientific review."
The Guardian

After lunch today, we sat outside today in the mild spring Sunday sunlight, said hello to the bees and the bumble bees and held our breath for a bit. (The puzzling news is that the classes of insects that are declining fastest are butterflies, bees and dung beetles. No one is going out of their way to eliminate them to the extent that their numbers are declining. Whereas blood sucking mosquitoes, the likes that transmit yellow fever for example, are increasing.)

Early this week I read somewhere in an essay this memory of hurricane Sandy:
"I remember that when the bodegas in our hood ran out of food, some folks shared with their neighbors. But when the gas station started running out of fuel, some folks pulled out their guns."
Emily Raboteau

And yet, I am not ready to give up. And I am not prepared to moan about how fucked up we are as humans and all that stuff about population figures and how it is too late anyway. WTF.

How do you sleep at night?
What comes to mind when you read or watch the school kids out on the street demonstrating for action on climate change?

I feel shame. And I realise we are only tinkering with ideas of solutions, if at all. 

And with impeccable timing, this lecture arrived in my inbox.

It's long, it requires listening, it is not nice, you can try and write it off, pretend it is fake news, get sarcastic, whatever, if you read it, you can skip some of the harsher bits (transcript here).

We sit in the gorgeous sunlight and listen in silence. Of course, we know all this and of course, we don't want to know this. We want to return to some ignorant state of mind, something childish, but even children know what is at stake. We have no choice. Looking away is no longer an option. We are lost. We are not alone.
We cannot unthink these thoughts.

So now, we debate whether we should send the link to this lecture to the young woman who lifted her three months old child into the camera lens this morning so we could rejoice with her.
What would you do?


Linda said...

Ugh! My heart is so discouraged. The leaders here in my country don't seem to give ONE IOTA about the environment or global warming. It's so big and our voices are so small.

ellen abbott said...

I decided long ago that humans were a doomed species. we poison the air, water, and land we need to survive. we continue to have children we cannot feed. we kill other forms of life just because we can. we prey on ourselves, wage unnecessary wars. we do have some good qualities, we can be compassionate but our greed far outweighs our compassion. I am helpless to stop it but it doesn't stop me from being responsible, compassionate, from nurturing my small part of the planet. I fear for the lives my grandchildren, now in their late teens and early 20s, will face when they are my age. I think, perhaps, I hope that as my generation dies off things will start to improve but I see that it is not just my generation but the next and the next that supports the destruction. for every young person in the streets fighting for policies to try and mitigate climate change, there are smug little bastards smirking in the face of elders. I'll be 69 in a couple of months. I'll continue to vote for common sense but my time here is almost done in the greater scheme of things. I can't even imagine what it will be like when my grandkids get as old as I am now. if they do.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Ellen. "responsible, compassionate, from nurturing my small part of the planet". Is this enough? Can you do more?
But the young mother is a difficult question. It depends on if you believe there is a safer place than where she is now, and that there are things she can do to protect her family and how hard you are willing to push this. What are you willing and able to do? The time when you had a real say was before she was conceived, if she is your daughter. And your opportunity to convince her was perhaps before the child was conceived. Our reproductive instincts are so strong, as is our will to survive. EJ

Anonymous said...

Here is another article to add to all the other articles that have been written about the dire straits we are in:
We can all do our small share to help, but really, it's going to take something much bigger than each one of us to make a difference... if it's not already too late. I am sorry to say it, but I am not hopeful.

am said...

Before replying, I listened to what Rupert Read had to say and waited until today to attempt to respond to your three questions. No quick or easy answers. As is often the case, my first thoughts led to second and third thoughts before I slept and dreamed more chaotic dreams and woke up again.

Here are my third thoughts:

I sleep fitfully. I need naps during the day in order to get enough sleep. My dreams lately are full of turmoil and yet last night I dreamed that while driving in the dark, down a road with deep evergreen forest on both sides, a bobcat appeared in the road. I stopped my car, and we gazed into each other's eyes and then I woke up in time to get together with my friends for breakfast.

When I see the young people speaking out for so many causes, it touches my heart. I see courage in action. I see love in action. I trust their good hearts.

My thoughts turned to those Jewish people who left Germany before and during World War II and lived to have children and grandchildren as a result. I thought of your daughter and her young family of three, leaving Europe and living in New Zealand. That seems a wise choice in these times. May their children and grandchildren thrive no matter what happens. Rupert Read specifically mentioned New Zealand in his talk in a way that sounded critical or even dismissive of those who have chosen to go to New Zealand. My gut feeling is that your daughter has learned through you and R much, if not all of what Rupert Read had to say, and that having chosen to start a family in New Zealand is a sign of courage for us all to witness and support. Was it Rupert Read who repeated the idea of someone else that, rather than hope, what we need is courage? Courage comes from the heart. The heart of the matter. As I was driving home in the below freezing weather with more unprecedented snow and ice predicted (climate chaos), from an early morning meeting with friends for breakfast, it occurred to me that you and R have given your daughter a solid foundation of the heart that gives her the courage to face whatever happens on this earth. She and her husband will give that foundation to their child.

I don't have a daughter or a son. I don't know what I would do regarding sending the link to your daughter, I do know that the love you and R have for your daughter and her young family is giving them courage right now to deal with whatever they have to deal with today and every day to come.

What I hear Rupert Read saying is that no action is too small to matter and that courage is a human resource that we can cultivate. Along with love and compassion. No matter what happens.

Thank you for the Joanna Macy quote. Constructive response. Responsibility. For that I am responsible. For that we are responsible.

Sending love, as always.

Anonymous said...

am-- I can't tell you how much I appreciated reading this. Your thoughtfulness, your heartfelt reflections, and your positive outlook. Thank you for writing it all down and sharing it here.

Colette said...

I suffered from postpartum depression after I had my daughter, so I wouldn't want to burden a relatively new mother with this horror. She knows.

I love seeing young people become involved and active in the fight to save our earth. They must. We must. The time for assuming someone else will take care of it is behind us.

beth coyote said...

There is actually talk about the Green New Deal here in the USA, brought to you by that most excellent of young congress people, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Of course, she's asking for the moon but what a beautiful ask it is. She is saying what we want RIGHT NOW. And she has put it out in front of the news cycle. Gives me implausible hope for all of us, including the bugs.