The reality is that we’re long past the feel-good “change your lightbulbs, bring your own bags, shorter showers, ride your bike and recycle” mindset. Most people can’t even bring themselves to do these simple actions anyways. We’re long past the point of a spontaneous awakening. If everyone on the planet chose to go vegan, live off-grid, grow their own food, and never buy a single plastic item again, it still wouldn’t be enough (but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still choose to live this way). The runaway momentum from our destructive behaviour is well underway. In most cases, the damage is irreversible. The lag time between our past and our present actions, and the subsequent repercussions of these actions will likely play out for several millennia to come. There’s no escaping the consequences of our willful ignorance, and contrary to our conditioned arrogance, we are not invincible, infallible or immortal. Let’s get real here, we’ve screwed the planet and ourselves. Surely I’m not the only one who gets t
Think of it this way. An old and very dear friend of mine died a few months ago of cancer, and made the mistake of never believing seriously that his end was coming, and thus went out basically screaming, “No!!” It wasn’t pretty; he was so angry his wife had to have him taken out to hospice. On the other hand, my dad, who died of the same type of cancer, was ready for it, embraced it, and died at home surrounded by family. While the very end was rough, he had a pretty good last year experiencing life, family, and love while waiting for the cancer to take him down.
This article is an attempt to respond to those who say they see me as a defeatist, a ‘doomer’, a dogmatically negative person. I have described myself of late as a joyful pessimist, and will try to explain why. This article draws on various theories about complexity, and the phenomenological philosophies of several writers, poets, artists and scientists. But it’s not a work of exposition of theory or of philosophy. It is, I guess, a confession.
…our world is not broken, it is dead. We are alive, if we choose to be, but the hierarchical systems of exploitation that structure the world in which we live — patriarchy, capitalism, nationalism, white supremacy, and the industrial model — all are dead. It’s not just that they cannot be reformed, but that they cannot, and should not, be revived. The death-worship at the heart of those ideologies is exhausting us and the world, and the systems are running down. That means we have to create new systems, and in that monumental task, the odds are against us. What we need is not naïve hope but whatever it is that lies beyond naiveté, beyond hope.