If America enters the next wave of coronavirus infections “with the wealthy having gotten somehow wealthier off this pandemic by hedging, by shorting, by doing all the nasty things that they do, and we come out of our rabbit holes and realize, ‘Oh, my God, it’s not just that everyone I love is unemployed or underemployed and can’t make their maintenance or their mortgage payments or their rent payments, but now all of a sudden those jerks that were flying around in private helicopters are now flying on private personal jets and they own an island that they go to and they don’t care whether or not our streets are safe,’ then I think we could have massive political disruption.” “Just as we come out of our holes and see what 25 percent unemployment looks like,” she said, “we may also see what collective rage looks like.”
Among other things, we may want to simply sign up to become students of uncertainty, or as the Buddhists say, “When you’re falling, dive.” This will require intention and practice. It does not require us to become news anorexics, but it does require us to temper our projections into the future as we practice staying present. This also gives us an opportunity to observe how attached we are to outcomes.
What is being asked of us now, in the midst of our hardship, is that we open our newly kindled compassion to all living beings, and feel with as much sober honesty as we can muster how they have all been ravaged by the virus of our fevered grasping.
What would happen if we did not try to push our deep concerns about the war and the economy and the environment away from us? What if we didn’t cling to thoughts and feelings that distract us from the world situation? What if, instead, we trusted those feelings and examined them without opinions of good or bad—with a not-knowing mind—and tried to see what they were telling us? What if we simply tried to understand our life-functions in relation to these feelings?
We’ve long had symptoms. We now have a name for the disease: climate disruptions. But what is the prognosis. The shock for me is that we’ve gone from a treatable condition to a fatal prognosis. That’s what has me reeling. I’m ping-ponging around the well-known stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance without resolution. Used to being a leader, or at least a scout who is at least riding shotgun on the stage coach, I felt blind. And if blind, then unable to fulfill my self-assigned duties. People have looked to me. If I just shrug an I dunno, I’m useless – at least in my estimation
Instead of sequestering carbon and generating water and rainfall, the Amazon will instead become a net emitter of carbon, and the planet will lose most of its oxygen-producing function. Meanwhile, the loss of the Amazon’s biodiversity will be beyond devastating for the planet.
The turning points that we reach, my friends, are the times that ask us: will we try to carry the impossible, terrible burden of existence alone? One that’s always been to heavy for anyone to shoulder by themselves? Or will we share it — this hidden truth of us, which we are so ashamed of?
Why is it that the average American can’t say the word “fascism” to describe a country of concentration camps, gestapos, kids in cages, organized supremacist political wings controlling government…and now political terrorism? One obvious answer is that they’re scared. And one obvious candidate for what’s scared Americans into submission — into being incapable of saying the word “fascism”…is fascist terrorism. Increasing right wing violence has caused a kind of chilling effect. The worse the fascists do…the less likely Americans are to call it fascism. Don’t you think that’s baffling? Upside down? The world does. I do. Only Americans don’t. And yet there must be a cause.
“Most of the kinds of pathologies that we’re accustomed to treating in psychiatry, they tend to be out of proportion to whatever is going on. But with climate change, this is not inappropriate,” she explained.
“The goal is not to get rid of the anxiety. The goal is to transform it into what is bearable and useful and motivating.”
Everyone engaging with our climate predicament will have their own emotional journey. None will be easy. The question of how to engage people is a huge one for me. It is why I have focused on how people who are awake to our predicament can help each other. My main suggestion is that we engage and talk with others who do not think that we are confused, depressed, or irresponsible to have concluded that climate change now threatens societal collapse. In those connections and conversations, we find solidarity, joy and pathways for how to be and what to do in future. If you do not yet have that in your life, or want more, then I recommend reaching out through one of the networks I list here.