A Realist Assessment of Where We Are Now

Human beings are like crows.  We are attracted to glitter.  We make a lot of noise.  We are social and travel in flocks. We are not terribly sensitive.

It has taken us a long, long time to realize how our presence here on Earth has been harming the planet.  You would think, with our tremendous intelligence, that we would have realized it sooner.  But we are masters at denial.  200 species a day go extinct because of human activity, and we just shrug and go about our business, focusing on the glitter at hand.  Perhaps it’s the animal in us, that refuses to recognize peril as long as, in a material way, we ourselves are OK.

Well, that long period of denial is coming to an end.  Or at least, it’s coming to a head.  We can no longer deny that it makes no difference to us if the ocean acidifies to the point where it can no longer support life.  Or the deforestation of the planet begins to interfere with oxygen production and the sequestration of CO2.  Or that the fresh waters that sustain us are increasingly toxic.

Yes, this affects every one of us. At some point, not very far in the future, it could be the case that our local supermarket will no longer be able to supply our nutritional needs, because the agri-socio-economic system that supplies the supermarket will be totally disrupted by climate change.

No, I am not being alarmist.  I am being realist.

We need to focus on this with all the amazing intelligence of our species.  We have brought the Earth to the brink of catastrophe, and alone among all the species on the planet we have the power to turn things around.

Will we seize this opportunity?  Will the current upswelling of activism associated with the Occupy movement get that the issues go far beyond the little hopes, dreams and disappointments of the middle class individual?

I refuse to give up hope.  I refuse to give up hope.  I refuse to give up hope.

Stand with me.  Let’s turn things around, before it’s too late.

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2 Comments

  1. For some reason, your refrain, “I refuse to give up hope,” held echoes for me of the Rumi poem that invites–beseeches?–the reader into consciousness:

    The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
    Don’t go back to sleep.
    You must ask for what you really want.
    Don’t go back to sleep.
    People are going back and forth across the doorsill
    where the two worlds touch.
    The door is round and open.
    Don’t go back to sleep.

    Perhaps we can all wake from our little hopes and dreams to something bigger.

    Reply
  2. Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

     /  October 30, 2011

    That is such a beautiful poem! And I often use the metaphor of sleep/wakefulness to understand how it can be that we’ve all been so oblivious to the destructiveness of industrial civilization when it’s been happening right in front of us. We’ve been sleepwalking. It’s time to wake up now.

    Reply

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