Your grief is your love, turned inside-out. That is why it is so deep. That is why it is so consuming. When your sadness seems bottomless, it is because your love knows no bounds.
When I speak of these struggles, people invariably call me “a downer” and “too negative.” I used to believe that was true, that I was being depressing by pushing these issues, but I have come to see that claim inverts reality. In fact, I’m the positive one — by placing my faith in our collective ability to bear the truth that is beyond bearing, I am affirming the best aspects of our humanity, just like my friend Jim Koplin. Those who demand that we ignore the painful questions are, in fact, the downers — the people stuck in negativity, the ones who have no faith in themselves or others to face reality honestly. Without that commitment to facing reality honestly, the harvest will have past, the summer will have ended forever, and we will not be able to save ourselves.
Macy believes that those who “are still on the path and not in one of the ditches” are seeing with clarity that it is “curtains for our way of life” because the prices being paid, or extorted, from the planet are too high.
In the end, the deepest insight of the Anthropocene will probably be a very simple one: we live in a world of millions of interdependent species with which we have co-evolved. We sunder this web of life at our peril. Earth’s story is fascinating, rich in detail, and continually self-revealing. And it’s not all about us.
Whenever the topic of near-term human extinction arises, I invariably hear comments like, “Well, if it’s true, I might as well lay down and die then.” I never fail to respond with my perspective that if there is anything we must not do, it is to “lay down and die.” Die we will, but it’s the laying down part that I cannot abide for the simple reason that we have a choice: to die lying on our butts under the influence of some recreational substance that keeps us in a state of mental and emotional oblivion (which does not arise from the same motivation as using medication to relieve pain) or to embrace our dying consciously and with intention. Why reject the former and choose the latter?
This year as we in the Northern Hemisphere approach the annual winter solstice on December 21, we abide not only in seasonal darkness but in what appears to be a permanent psychic darkness resulting from catastrophic climate change and near-term extinction. In our despair, we may ask ourselves if there is any point in seeking to find any light in this terminal darkness. Why don’t we just mimic our bear brethren who willingly descend into the darkness for the winter and hibernate? Why not eat, drink, sate ourselves, sleep in, check out, and die? After all, glimpses of light are only poignant reminders of our inescapable predicament.
Denial wears many faces. Whether it’s average people who are too busy with their lives to take on board the more extreme reports of environmental degradation; bloggers and politicians who believe that it’s all a hoax cooked up by evil scientists to get grant money for bogus studies; or, perhaps surprisingly, the green activists who believe that more political or technological change will improve or even fix the situation – these are common techniques we use to avoid confronting the horror of global collapse face-to-face.