Activism, Wanking and Saving the World
Predicting the impending apocalypse is no longer just a game for those dogmatic Mayans. Random Instagram pages on a quest to expose 5G, the reptilian elite and adrenochrome-addicted pedophiles have also joined the party. And even more surprisingly, modern science has also decided to chime in with its very own version of a doomsday prediction.
In a technique unique to their discipline, scientists have actually gathered empirical evidence to support their apocalyptic claims. After years of the scientific method, our smartest and most progressive minds have all reached a singular conclusion: if we don’t change our behavior immediately, something pretty fucked up is going to happen. Think the complete loss of biodiversity, the death of all reefs, island nations literally sinking into the ocean, and air that leaves an aftertaste of poison on your lips. Delicious. But if you aren’t convinced by the aforementioned points, we might die too! The Earth could potentially become inhospitable for our own survival.
And so it seems incredibly bizarre that to me, caring about the survival of our planet somehow equates to masturbating in front of a mirror. When positioned in new social situations or talking to the more conservative among us, I often find myself downplaying my beliefs or hiding that I don’t eat meat. I feel anxious about dinner parties. I often make excuses not to attend so that I avoid burdening others with my complications. I am rarely successful in navigating social interactions where I can express my opinions without feeling that I am coming across as a self-righteous turd. I probably am a self-righteous turd, but I don’t want to come across that way. And god forbid I be dismissed as a hippie or greenie.
But why am I afraid of these terms? How can they even be used as insults? To be anything but a climate activist in today’s world seems quite irrational. Activists are fighting for the wellbeing of our future offspring, and we’re telling them to get the fuck off the road so that we aren’t late for work. I say we rename ‘activist’ to ‘rationalist’, and there be no derogatory term related to environmentalism. Nobody ever tried to shame Superman when he was trying to save the world.
Sometimes, after watching a particularly inspiring documentary or reading a confronting article, a combination of passion, disgust, and self-loathing boils within me. Fuck what anyone thinks; I am going to go full Greta Thunberg. It’s time to burn down the system. Viva la revolution, I think.
I ready myself for uncomfortable social interactions. I imagine myself an artist of persuasion, opening the eyes of the ignorant and inspiring a new wave of environmentally conscious minds. I will fight for you, Mother Earth. I love you.
But the protest dies on my lips. My lust for a smooth social interaction shits on the chest of my activist ideals. My passion dies, my disgust dies, and my self-loathing di… Actually, nah, my self-loathing is immortal. Lament awaits me. On the cusp of sleep I will be flooded with shame.
The responsibility of climate justice should not fall solely on the individual. Life is hard for the people. Everyone has enough to worry about. I get it. But of the great many things worthy of our attention, having a planet that allows us to exist should be one of our ultimate concerns. The long-awaited war on social injustice cannot be fought from the grave of a burning planet. We need a change to the system.
The current political response to the climate crisis is laughably inadequate. Both major parties hold values so similar as to deem their differences insignificant. The idea of the voter holding the power of change within their singular vote is a falsity spewed from the throats of those in power. Real change comes from the pressure of an opposing force with stronger values than your own. However, neither party seems to view sustainability as a priority, let alone give a shit about anything beyond a strong economy. Both boast inept and minimalistic greenwashing campaigns in an attempt to muzzle the voices of the concerned. Please refrain from applauding these misguided heroes.
So here we are, 2020. We have arrived. The most sophisticated species to ever grace planet earth. The modern human. Capable of suffering anxiety attacks over which socks to wear to brunch, but largely unconcerned about the literal end of all known life in the universe. I’m a strong advocate for remaining calm in situations of uncertainty but I sincerely feel as though this is an issue deserving of more attention.
We are smart enough to predict the end of the world yet lack the wisdom to save it. This liminal stage of uncertainty that we currently exist within is absolutely bonkers. I want saving the world to define our existence or I want nihilism to reign (let’s fucking party!). Anything in between is a slow, painful death.
Something that I have discovered recently about myself is that there is something behind my face that is capable of critical thought. I am in no position to offer any other human life advice; I have no money and I smell. But before the ground becomes scorching to our feet, I encourage you to ask yourself: what are we doing?