So, I have been…bothered…by the trajectory of the world for a long time. I wrote a high school paper on climate change in……check it out…….1986. We knew about all this WAY BACK THEN. And mostly what we know now that we didn’t know then, are more of the precise details of just how fucking terrible our climate trajectory is going to be to the global web of life. Other than the more and more bad news that we’ve learned, we pretty much knew everything we needed to know back in 1984 (which was when the references in my bibliography were published…).
After getting into ecology and complex system dynamics in grad school, I spent the next….you know, 25 years, researching world systems, chaos & complex systems theories, environmental science, climate change and psychology. I wrote articles and book chapters and did media interviews on these things. Gave a bunch of talks. Taught maybe 25 or 30 000 students. Co-wrote a textbook. Worked with and learned from a lot of different experts in different fields. Worked with a charity. Helped write another book. And….through it all, what I learned, with more and more certainty, is that the way we are doing things, is so tragically not working that we are literally in an emergency. But we’re pretending not to be.
In fact, instead of fixing what’s not working, we’re making it worse. You only have to look at the degradation of American politics. Or the military dominance of the world by absurdly dangerous superpowers. Or the ownership of almost everything by a tiny bracket of the uber-wealthy. Or the accelerating collapse of virtually every ecosystem on the planet. (NOTE: All of these problems are interconnected.)
Or the fact that EVERYTHING IS SO COMPLICATED!!!!! Seriously, we’re all exhausted and stressed just paying our bills and staying employed, and dealing with our families and whatever. How the hell are we going to “save the world?”
But, Shit is fucked. And we are, dramatically, NOT un-fucking it.
I know I keep saying this, but…it’s true. And it’s getting worse. And this will be true for everybody, forever — our children, grandchildren, the descendants to whom we COULD be their revered Ancestors but who, at this point, will probably curse us.
I know I might be screaming into the void here. But we have to talk about this. We have to change it. How the hell can we face the future, and look in the eyes of tomorrow’s children, unless we can at the very least say, “I really tried to do what I could”?
Trust the System? Tradition? Authority?
I am thoroughly tired of the mantra that we are constantly fed, especially by the status-quo-maintaining conservative voices, like again, my ex-colleague Jordan Peterson. He tells us to trust the system, for the most part. To trust the religious framework of values that Western culture was founded on. To trust the people in charge, because they know more than you and I about how to run the world.
I am so fucking tired of this bullshit, I cannot find adequate words to express it. We MUST stop listening to the soothsayers telling us that everything’s A-ok and all we need to do is Make Things Great Again. It is utterly lies, built on lies, built on lies.
If you have held a family member, or a pet (who are of course family members), while they died, you can remember what that was like. You know that one can watch a dying being, and track the ebbing of their life energy into the final moments when ‘the Mystery’ happens, and Life becomes Death. You can see it and feel it and know it in the mortality of your own bones.
This is the feeling of so many of the brilliant and brave and heartbroken people who have studied the Earth’s integrated systems for all these decades. Scientists are so often activists because they really, deeply understand what is at stake and just how big the risks are. Which is why they have been clamouring, protesting, and even begging the people and governments of the world to collectively wake up and fix our suicidal relationship with our own life support system.
And instead? We’re still having wars. We’re building ever-bigger bombs and weapons, and ever-more-powerful machines and factories, and drilling ever-more-deeply for oil and destroying ever-more-forests-and-wetlands-and-lakes-and-rivers for mining.
And voting people like Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump into positions of phenomenal power (Doug Ford for Ontario; not much better), so they can accomplish the lofty goals of……..
….…taking away women’s rights to their own bodies? Tearing apart whatever meagre social safety nets might still exist? Making the rich even more rich, and the poor even more numerous? Destroying the environment even more quickly? And getting even more cuddly on the international stage with the other Authoritarian Despots who rule through force?
Because this is not just conjecture or me being all “taking things too seriously”, or whatever. This is EXACTLY what is going on in the United States of America, the so-called (i.e., self-appointed) leader of Western freedom and democracy. It is EXACTLY the direction that Stephen Harper’s international conservative alliance, the IDU, are trying to achieve around the world.
(***Seriously, if you don’t know about this, read this — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Democrat_Union.)
Of course, their narrative is about “Freedom” and “Traditional Values” and such, so their Conservative voter base won’t realize they are voting for literal criminals who are robbing them blind.
It boggles the mind, but this doublespeak-society we now all live in, is what George Orwell was warning us all about. THIS, was the point.
So here we are in the age of escalating global crises, and yet, perhaps the biggest crisis of all is that our language has degraded, our public sphere has been hijacked so that it’s not really a “public sphere”, but rather a curated propaganda stream, controlled by the few who, basically, own the world.
We aren’t solving our problems because our very democratic process has become so wildly partisan that virtually our entire “Political Process” is wasted, not on discussing ideas and solutions and making things better, but just smearing and sloganing and engaging in bullshit PR antics that provide fodder for momentary write-ups on Twitter and briefly-skimmed articles in newspapers and 20-second mentions on newscasts, with the net effect of making the public even less informed, thinking a little more simplistically and “us vs. them”, day by day….
Our mental environment has been fractured and polluted as much as our natural ecosystems, and similarly, our “social capital” as a culture is fracturing along with it.
There are so many rays of hope. Just like there are still surviving “natural areas” around the world (although none are unpolluted, not one on the planet). But we cannot placate ourselves with the illusion that, because there are SOME rays of hope, things are going to be ok. This is like saying, during WWII, “hey, there’s a resistance movement and all these individual acts of courage! I guess this war isn’t so bad….”
Reclaiming our public discourse, our ability to talk with each other and cooperate, is absolutely necessary to this world not-crashing and us all figuring out how to make things work for the collective good.
This is what all of us, I hope, learned in High School from whatever visionary teachers we were lucky enough to have. I mean, it’s no mystery why the increasingly fascist-leaning governments are trying to silence teachers and scientists and educators and such, with every new anti-education law passed, every book banned and every religious or ideological organization shutting down free thinking in education. While pretending it’s all about “protecting children”. And, somehow, Freedom.
This is….fucking crazy.
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Thank you; we now return to regular programming….