And don’t tell me that we do.
How many times do you think about it throughout your day? How often do you talk about it to your friends? Do you make an intentional effort to go and read about it — or do you quickly skim over the alarming headlines and move on?
You probably understand that what the human race is doing to the environment is inexplicably stupid. We are knowingly destructing our own basis for survival, for the sake of keeping the consumer experience up to the standard established by the capitalist thirst for profit. We are digging our own grave and we know it — yet, we aren’t stopping.
You may say that not enough people in the world have this awareness. That the critical mass of climate activists that could overweigh the establishment forces insisting to maintain the status quo hasn’t yet been build.
I say this is bullshit. Enough people know what is happening. Including you and me.
Including the activists, too, who are by the way not some elevated beings who know more than the rest of us and should, therefore, take the burden of fighting for the survival of humanity upon their shoulders. Yes, we are talking about survival here. I am sure you at least skimmed over the New York Times’, Guardian’s, Washington Post’s or any other of the multitude of headlines that burst out last Monday, after the UN report’s summary was published to inform us that we are headed towards extinction.
The truth is, most of us don’t give much attention to such news because it takes some balls to face reality. I know that I, for the majority of time, struggle to make myself embrace the facts. And I am not the only one.
“That headline about trees scrolled by on my phone so fast, it was like my thumb was conspiring with my nervous center to not confront me with the story. And I’m onboard! I know the climate is suffering and that the future is being colonized by big business and unsustainable policy. I have been a climate activist since college. But that doesn’t mean the news isn’t upsetting. The feeling of helplessness is even harder.”
As I said, the activists and people who you may see as branding themselves as “eco-conscious” are not elevated beings of some separate category. Zuzanna said this, and I am saying this. Having been organizing the Earth Strikes in my hometown for the past five months, I may be labelled an activist by some. But the truth is, I am just as clueless as we all are about this.
Being in the “activist” mode, I face my humanity in all its shades. Organizing the protests is work like any other. But what makes it more difficult is that it seems futile for the most part. It is hard to coordinate a group of people who have hardly anything in common, other than being extremely worried about the future of the Earth.
I mean — we don’t even know one another outside of the scraps of our free time that we try to use as best as we can for calling to action on climate change. And then, some 30 people show up to the protest. All kinds of conflicting feelings arise in me, pride and disappointment being the main ingredients of the mixture.
But I didn’t come here to complain about how hard climate activism is. I just want to let you know that you cannot simply rely on others to deal with the biggest problem of humanity. Climate activists are just people. We get discouraged, confused and conflicted. Because this is bigger than any of us has ever imagined.
Almost everyone is trying to escape the reality of the environmental crisis in one way or another. Some people turn their eyes away from the scary headlines. Others plainly deny the severity of our condition. And this is understandable. The vision of the climate apocalypse is so fucking scary that we obviously just want to scream and run away.
I know that I’d prefer to run away and hide. As a writer, I’d rather stay within my comfort zone of writing about mindfulness, spiritual growth, self-improvement or even [sic!] hacking ourselves for optimal performance. Whatever. At least, I have some merit to convey in those areas.
But with the climate crisis? I can only tell you that I am scared as hell — but at the same time, I know that the last thing I should do is to let this fear take over.
In the newsletter, Zuzanna Ziomecka recognizes the mind’s deeply embedded defence mechanism which tries to protect her from taking in the inconvenient news. She says:
“So, despite the conspiracy between my feed-scrolling thumb and my amygdala, I’m writing about the scary headlines today. I figure, if attacking the fear by discrediting messengers like Greta Thunberg is the cowardly way to go, than leaning into the research and educating ourselves about the state of the world is an act of courage.”
We are all on this sinking ship together — and we are afraid. That’s only natural. But this is precisely why it’s the time to find courage.
The courage for acting and speaking about the climate crisis, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. Because, as Great Thunberg says, our house is on fire. And to ignore the fact that your own house is burning is just ridiculous.