Monday, January 9, 2012

What Do We Do Then?

You know very well how many dedicated people are working hard to save the Earth. They're fighting Congress to protect the deserts, enforce clean air standards, make corporations disclose the toxic chemicals used to blast deep into gas-rich shale. Talented, passionate people are writing books about climate change and polluted seas, rivers, soils, and air. They take children on hikes and offer to adults wilderness trips in pristine places so people will remember how much the natural world means to them.

And still the forests are being cut, the oceans are being clogged with oil and scarred with plastic. Still mountaintops are being exploded and wetlands filled in.  Still wilderness is plowed up to make housing developments and malls. Still poor communities of color are the ones slated for the most toxic projects of incinerators and mineral extraction.

Still, people who are proud to be environmentalists tell themselves they need the latest iPhone and iPad and have to dye their hair and use beauty products to make themselves young. and going on vacations to eco-paradises like the Gallapagos.

Still babies are being born, here, there, and everywhere, and when they grow up they too will want a place of their own and they will believe that they need the newest gadgets to survive. And how will they survive?

It is not going to get better. The places we love are going to continue to disappear.

Then what? Will all the work of the environmental educators and litigators and preservers be for naught? Does their success depend solely on staving off the inevitable?

Or does real ecological activism come from a new kind of realism? Not just realizing the world is changing and "we're to blame," but the realism of being with and attending to the places in our midst that are a part of us still, no matter what has happened to them?

Radical Joy for Hard Times says: When the places we love are damaged, we humans hurt too. And tempting as it is to ignore both damaged places and our own difficult feelings of loss and grief, it is by encountering these places and feelings with openness, compassion, and curiosity that we blaze the way forward. It is by telling the stories of our relationship with the place and above all making beauty there until we fall in love with the place all over again... that we become citizens of the future of Earth, not just surviving, but loving where we live and empowered to live with it with wild, bold creativity and community.