No, I’m not writing this post from the perspective of outing myself as an extraterrestrial, although, to quote the character of Harry (marvelously played by Alan Tudyk) on the hit SYFY Channel series Resident Alien, “I hear they’re pretty cool!” 🙂
Earth Day: Cause for Optimism, Cause for Despair
Every Earth Day brings up a whole host of emotions for me: on the one hand, I feel gloriously optimistic and tremendously inspired by the passion of climate change activists, especially galvanized young voices on the vanguard of the movement such as 18-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg and her peers. There’s no denying that in the past decade or so here in the US, environmental, climate change, and habitat/resource conservation issues have definitely risen to the forefront of the collective consciousness, economically (feeling greater degrees of empowerment as consumers to align our shopping choices with our personal values) and politically (where these issues are, unfortunately, vehemently debated across party lines, of course). From the social justice angle voiced by BIPOC activists denouncing the overt, systemic racism behind decades-old policies of polluting communities of color and the sacred lands of First Nations Peoples to the more personal economic and health angles of looking to maximize energy efficiency and reduce waste in the home while opting for organic foods on our plates (and even growing our own produce), more and more people are, thankfully, thinking about and acting upon a desire to promote sustainability. (Today’s Google doodle, screenshot below, made me applaud and cry tears of joy!)
On the other hand, since I aspire to live every day as Earth Day with my conscious choices, I also feel a world of despair weighing on my heart. The plain facts of the case are that we’re all crowding ourselves on an increasingly fragile planet with drastically shrinking resources. Our late-stage global capitalism exudes a rapacious appetite for destruction, laying waste to swathes of Amazonian rain forest with illegal logging (China can’t get enough timber) and drying up entire rivers in Chilean villages so life-giving water can be rerouted to corporate-owned avocado orchards (watch the Netflix documentary Rotten if you haven’t already; it’s a disturbing eye-opener of the ugliness in global food production). I seethe with rage. I feel sick to my stomach. I often cry in states of deep despair when I watch the YouTube videos of my favorite evolutionary biologist, Dr. Guy McPherson. In his ocean of data pertaining to mass extinction events and what he terms “near-term human extinction,” he soberly tells us that our efforts to save the planet, while stemming from noble intentions, amount to “too little, too late.”
That’s despair and tidal waves of hopelessness stemming from the macro level. At the micro level, to give but one example, when I see how my neighbors repeatedly throw litter around in my neighborhood (in front of one park in particular), often from their cars as they careen down my street at outrageously high speeds, I feel the heaviness in my chest and tightness in my throat that is the same visceral response I have to grief. Since the pandemic began last year, it’s routine for me to have latex-free disposable gloves in my purse or in my pockets, so I invariably make a beeline for the garbage I see strewn about and take the time to dispose of it in the closest public trash can I can find. But I can assure you I am grumbling very misanthropic thoughts under my breath as I do so! I think a part of me wants the human race to die off because we in Western societies have been, since the advent of the Industrial Revolution at least, such ungracious guests in our Earth Mother’s house! Like the brilliantly visionary Tool song “Aenima” informs us, “The only way to fix it is to flush it all away.”
We live in very challenging times and it seems like we’re on the fast-track, collectively, to devolution, not the vaunted “progress” that our misplaced faith in technology as the ultimate savior tricks us into believing.
What’s a Witch to do?