I have written and rewritten this post well over five times already, not to mention the tweaks and modifications made in my mind before ever putting into writing. It was the fever pitch of the 2018 Midterm Elections, and on the night of, when I thought inspiration was on my side, the crushing news for Florida came rolling in. But now it is the day after, and there is still some good news in the air, despite a horrible turn out in many cases. Recapturing hope, I dare to write again:
Mother Nature has merged with the Warrior Queen and is holding us all in an ecological choke hold. Global climate change has a lower threshold than previously thought and the time-table to act is quicker than ever before. If humanity isn’t more than halfway transformed away from fossil fuel emissions by 2030, it will only be another decade until the great and unimaginable catastrophes put our global civilizations at risk.
From 2040 forward, the worst case scenarios of the past will play out with implacable severity. By the time the next century rolls around, life as we know it–that is, the extravagant wealth and access to technology of late-capitalism–will have mostly crumbled from this world. Mother Nature has become the Warrior Queen, and she is holding us in a choke hold that might very well strangle us.
But she would ease up if we begin to learn and implement our lessons–if we finally grow up as a species and begin to do our job in Her majestic web of life. She would, in fact, welcome us into a world renewed and exalted in the struggle for global salvation.
Already we have heard the lessons spoken by various prophets of Her Ways. Already we have implemented some of the fundamental lessons of living in concert with Mother Earth and all the living beings within this terraqueous sphere. Since the 1800s, we have begun to advocate for the intrinsic value of species, landscapes, and ecosystems. We’ve learned that Earth self-regulates like a living being in Lovelock’s Gaia Hypothesis, and fought to preserve integral parts of Her existence, such as pandas and the ozone layer. Even before that, we have access to numerous traditions of stewardship and communion with the Earthly Divine that is our Mother, and sometimes Father.
It is not enough. At the core of our relationship with the living planet, we hold a value judgment that, in turn, sabotages all our attempts to preserve it. We seem to think that humanity is apart from Nature. This is pure fetishism and it breaks down easily upon frank analysis: Why does the beaver deserve to build dams, but not us? Many reasons could be listed, but none would prove truly satisfactory. The truth is, we allow the beaver’s dams–we justify them as a part of Nature–because the beaver itself is of little to no consequence to us. Our dams power cities, marvels of civilization, our very lives. Our dams make us masters of the water’s flow and all its productivity.
We value our works, and by extension ourselves, because we seem to be anomalous within the world otherwise. Our thoughts are manifest in stone and steel and they overpower the world around us. But that is a false perception. Our works only manage to isolate us from the world around us and, by doing so, they separate us from the beaver. Whereas the beaver must fear for predators, we may fear none. That which we cannot shoot, we may poison (so-called pests) and genetically eradicate (pestilential mosquitoes) from existence. In time, even Death might be vanquished by the clever ape with the biochemistry lab.
But we may not have the luxury of time. There are many lessons left to learn:
We must finally integrate humanity with Nature, because we belong with Her, and not apart. Pristine, national areas cannot exist on the exclusion of human activities. And these activities cannot, in turn, ignore their interwoven place within all things that are. Even as we merge with Nature, finally and properly, we must de-centralize human systems to embrace all living and non-living entities within the world. Thus, species gain unalienable rights and ecosystems become legal entities within national and international frameworks of law.
Finally, to assure that separation never again takes place, we each commit to become Listeners of the Earth and Interpreters of Her Will. It need not be mystical or religious, as even a basic understanding of science can open up the senses to the flow of information we have forgotten to receive. We will understand the whispers of the redwood and the global community, and establish a compact between species for mutual benefit. We rewild our minds and hearts–our culture–and dare to plan with rain and wind in mind, and plant the life that restores the world to life again.
Perhaps, then, we will begin to see our divisions as irrelevant in the vast and diverse web of life. Perhaps, then, true justice can be shared by all humans, as well as those beings more-than-human. We are of a kind, you see, a continuum of life that stretches back billions of years, taking up every form conceivable, with the potential to take countless more.