Saturday, May 31, 2014

Apocalyptic thoughts

Since the recent news of the increasing rapid shrinking of the polar ice caps, I've been struggling more often with apocalyptic thoughts. As a child of the Cold War, end-of-the-world thinking isn't new to me. Duck-and-cover drills in sixth grade under our desks in practice for the big bomb (even as a kid I knew that wasn't going to do any good), trips to the wrestling sub-basement in the fall of 1962 as a junior in high school during the Cuban missile crisis. My thoughts then were tinged with fear, fear that I would die, that my family would die, that I'd never get to do the things in my life I wanted to do.

My recent apocalyptic thoughts are tinged not with fear but with deep grief. Grief that we are on a irreversible course now (and have been for longer than we care to think) that is destroying the beauty of our one world. "Air that's too angry to breathe, water our children can't drink." Kenny Loggins, "Conviction of the Heart"

I just read Timothy Egan's masterful book, The Worst Hard Thing, about the Dust Bowl. But of course, it's not just about the Dust Bowl. It's about greed, and misguided advice, and political bull-shit and posturing that leads to economic and environmental disaster. Sound familiar? Think Amazon rainforest, fracking, off-shore drilling, Fukushima.

I've lived a long and comfortable life by any human standards. My grief is much less for me at this time. There may well be enough comfort in the world for my next 20 years. But what about for my nephews, now in their early 20s? And their kids if they have them? And all the kids who should be entitled to a world that's as livable as my world has been?

Last week we had a minor water scare in Portland  (had to boil water for a day due to contamination) and greed and self-protection were rampant in the stores, people buying all the bottled water they could get their hands on. Maybe some of them shared it. Most I suspect hoarded it. Our individualistic, me and mine first mentality, both very human and very American, is not going to help us in the crises that are coming. As Einstein said, we can't get out of the problem using the same mindset that got us into it.

Sitting in sadness today.


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