I hope you have had an intense experience that changed you so much you had trouble returning, or could not return to what had been your routine. A life changing experience. I have been blessed to have had a number of such experiences, the most recent of which was marching 94 miles on the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March, which I have written a lot about.
After eight days of sharing our stories with each other on the March and being with people who care deeply about Mother Earth, I’m finding it difficult to return to a society that refuses to acknowledge our unfolding environmental chaos, even in the face of more violent storms and flooding, rising temperatures and fierce fires, and spreading areas of long term drought.
I’m finding it difficult to return to a political situation where our deepest values and liberties have been, and continue to be systematically eroded. Where profit is what drives our national political decisions. Where we no longer find basic human decency.
In the midst of all this, can we find the courage to face climate change?
Climate scientist Kate Marvel writes:
I have lived a fortunate, charmed, loved life. This means I have infinite, gullible faith in the goodness of the individual. But I have none whatsoever in the collective. How else can it be that the sum total of so many tiny acts of kindness is a world incapable of stopping something so eminently stoppable? California burns. Islands and coastlines are smashed by hurricanes. At night the stars are washed out by city lights and the world is illuminated by the flickering ugliness of reality television. We burn coal and oil and gas, heedless of the consequences.
Our laws are changeable and shifting; the laws of physics are fixed. Change is already underway; individual worries and sacrifices have not slowed it. Hope is a creature of privilege: we know that things will be lost, but it is comforting to believe that others will bear the brunt of it.
We are the lucky ones who suffer little tragedies unmoored from the brutality of history. Our loved ones are taken from us one by one through accident or illness, not wholesale by war or natural disaster. But the scale of climate change engulfs even the most fortunate. There is now no weather we haven’t touched, no wilderness immune from our encroaching pressure. The world we once knew is never coming back.
I have no hope that these changes can be reversed. We are inevitably sending our children to live on an unfamiliar planet. But the opposite of hope is not despair. It is grief. Even while resolving to limit the damage, we can mourn. And here, the sheer scale of the problem provides a perverse comfort: we are in this together. The swiftness of the change, its scale and inevitability, binds us into one, broken hearts trapped together under a warming atmosphere.
We need courage, not hope. Grief, after all, is the cost of being alive. We are all fated to live lives shot through with sadness, and are not worth less for it. Courage is the resolve to do well without the assurance of a happy ending. Little molecules, random in their movement, add together to a coherent whole. Little lives do not. But here we are, together on a planet radiating ever more into space where there is no darkness, only light we cannot see. https://onbeing.org/blog/kate-marvel-we-need-courage-not-hope-to-face-climate-change/