From a greater perspective it no longer matters that people dismiss the holocaust we have created, because life on earth is changing in ways that are forcing humans to confront the horrors of what we have done through climate change.
The earth is on fire, trees are being slaughtered by the billions, we suffer from air pollution because dead trees can no longer provide us with clean air. Loss of precious oxygen, potable water, fertile ground, massive flooding, overpopulation, – all are taking a death toll.
Of course, non-human species suffer first because they have no voices with which to protest, and the extinction of so many troubles few, but these fatalities are harder to ignore when humans begin dying too. In the U.S. we currently live in a bubble that is about to burst because soon we will be living the horrors the rest of the world is already facing. Educating didn’t work. Love was not enough.
Let’s face it, part of the problem lies with human selfishness. The majority, at least in this country, predicate their lives on pleasing themselves – such a self centered perspective is not seen anywhere else in Nature. For example, trees don’t focus their lives on “having fun”, or living in “virtual” reality, or knocking off the next adventure on their bucket list. Trees live mindful lives focused on serving others as well as themselves and are focused on the continuation of all life as a whole. This is not to say that trees don’t feel pleasure or joy or suffer intensely. Standing under a single healthy tree with an open heart, mind, and body allows the tree to communicate directly how much s/he celebrates being alive. Conversely, listening to a screaming tree starved for water will bring a person to her knees in tree grief. Trees also thrive on being loved, as anyone who tends to trees and plants like I do, can tell you. Trees and plants need to be cared about just like animals and people do.
Reciprocity is normalized in Nature; it is conditional between humans. What is wrong with this picture?
Those that are “red in tooth and claw” are humans who as a whole have not evolved into a species that is capable of caring for others (in particular non human species), or the Earth, our home.
I am not suggesting that all people are like this; some are not, but there are not many of us – and critical mass is required to shift any paradigm. In order to change the present story into one that supports life instead of destroying it humans have to make radical changes, and it is abundantly clear that the majority of people aren’t remotely interested.
“Extinction Illness,” a phrase originally coined by Deena Metzger, describes a state of being in which those of us who are sensitive enough to feel the catastrophic changes that are occurring on Earth are suffering with the planet and experiencing despair, hopelessness, and depression. We are in the minority.
A friend told me recently that she believed that humans can’t imagine “not being” and I think this statement is true. I know I can’t imagine my not being, (unless I place myself within the context of Nature as a whole).
The hole that will be opened up by the death of our kind (the youngest and most destructive species on earth) may create the space for a new unimaginable kind of beginning.
Sentient Nature possesses memory. S/he creates patterns and S/he is also evolving, so Nature is capable of annihilating whatever S/he creates that doesn’t support life as a whole. Allowing humans to evolve was a mistake, and Nature is much too wise to make the same error again. Earth will be habitable for perhaps four more billion years giving her time to create a kinder place, I believe, one in which extant species will be able to live more peaceful lives thriving as a community that focuses on life for all its species, not just one.
Human extinction is an illness that we will not recover from. And perhaps this is the greatest gift of all.
Postscript: Reaching this point of acceptance of ‘what is’ and ‘what will come’ has been a journey that has taken me a lifetime. In retrospect, my inability to let go of hope became the obstacle I could not overcome, because without clinging to hope what was left? I couldn’t know then that by experiencing this deep letting go that I would finally find peace and acceptance.
I want to make it abundantly clear that letting go and acceptance doesn’t mean that I don’t continue to grieve for what is being lost. I do. I am in love with the earth and her sentient beings, but I am also feeling peace knowing that the Earth will go on creating for a long time to come. And meanwhile there is NOW, and every day I find joy on my doorstep with each crane sighting, with each dog kiss, each predawn sky, each walk in the Bosque… I celebrate the gift of living a life of meaning.