I used to fear TEOTWAKI. The acronym stands for a theory already suggested by current events. It goes like this: climate change, dwindling oil and water, and the inevitable implosion of economies based on perpetual growth will lead to the end of the world as we know it.
That belief is a real buzzkill. It extends far beyond creating a “Go Bag” or emergency preparedness plan. Doubt in future prosperity makes you postpone starting a family, makes you do less-fun things because they’re “more green,” makes you wonder what the fucking point is.
After feeling this way for about three years, I hit a wall. I started to feel, and this just happened about six months ago, like I didn’t care anymore.
Maybe composting will save the world. Or maybe it’s already fucked.
I started to feel like the processs of climate change is already underway. And meanwhile, anticipating its effects are making me miserable. In reality, the process will probably be so slow and gradual, we won’t even notice how an unstable environment is altering our lives.
And who knows? A virus may take most of us out tomorrow…
…or a scientist may find an economical way to make saltwater potable.
We really never know until it happens.
The difference between a liberal environmentalist and a conservative survivalist today is that the former thinks she can save the world with her vote and her buying power, and the latter thinks she can save herself with a full larder, a gun, and a generator. For too long, I fell between them, feeling my vote was meaningless and my larder empty.
This is the ongoing battle I’ve always felt between pragmatic conservatism (any soap is better than no soap) and the passionate liberal (green soap, or no soap). I believe a healthy democracy actively engages both voices. Because survival, and thriving, and growth, and peace, require each perspective some of the time.
Yet I listen to both voices with equal skepticism. I do not believe we can halt global warming, I believe it is already underway. And I do not believe there is value in building a bunker on the hill.
I believe in what neither side seems to consider. Not survival, but, What would you do to help?
What could you do now to make you less of a burden, and more of an assset?
Tonight I was making dinner and suddenly noticed all the manufacturing that went into it: the sea salt, the ranch dressing, even the vodka in my cocktail. My life would be so incredibly different if I was living on what I or my immediate neighbors could produce.
Last year I would have found that thought depressing, a reminder of what may come.
Tonight I thought, The past is no more and the future isn’t yet. Right now I can enjoy salt from another end of the earth.
Isn’t that, I realized, a call to action to enjoy life while you can?
Maybe if we truly valued this life, we would be better motivated to preserve it.
Either way, it is joy, more than fear, composting or generators, that sustains life. Spread it.