Waking up in the New Year, wondering about our future on this planet, I was suddenly smacked upside the head by a flash awareness of how incredibly fragile our entire biosphere is. And how we are, apex of the *Eukaryota or not, far more vulnerable than we think. We are in fact about as hardy as the fruit hanging from our trees, or the honey bees buzzing around it… or that once were.
Now, of course, we have more going on for us - mainly human agency. But can we say that we’ve truly laid claim to that asset? Recently, a young man I know, when asked by his mother to recycle something, muttered “What’s the difference - the whole planet’s doomed anyhow.” Whoa. How the hell have we let things come to this pass? And I’m talking to you guys, you boomers supposedly at the helm.
A week later I read a NYT Op-Ed piece, “If You See Something, Say Something,” in which Michael E. Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State, exhorts his fellow scientists to speak up about the implications of their scientific discoveries, which is what he does in this editorial, plainly stating that according to the latest reports, if we don’t reverse our gluttonous burning of fossil fuels in the next 15 years, the damage will be irreversible and we’ll have hell to pay. 15 years or else? Jeepers.
Look, goddamnit, we humans are luminaries; we’ve made astounding breakthroughs in the realm of technology - nano-scale motors, 3-D printers - we’ve mapped genomes and harvested human organs from pigs! So why have we not gotten our asses in gear to harness such tectonic cognitive shifts into solving the biggest problem of all - sustainable energy? WTF is going on here???
This is the era of Globalization, right? But the only thing globalized on this planet is manufacturing and media. We’re all one - not because we have a unity of higher purpose, but because we all want shit for cheap, and we’ve all been herded into the same Happy Valley of cheesy celebrity worship and fed the same weedy diet of faux news and ads. There are too many struggling players, too many conflicting global interests, too much internecine strife and in fact no true leadership to be found anywhere except amongst the major CEO’s who, addicted to growing their already sizable bonuses, are being allowed to drive us into extinction.
In fact, I’m a pie-eyed optimist by trade, so these disquisitions are not ‘really me.’ But I gotta say it’s getting harder and harder to ‘be me.’ Which is really what this is all about; I refuse to give up my sunny disposition just because the powers that be choose to piss on my parade.
But now to my point - and this is leading somewhere. Several critical concepts, words actually, have been running through my head recently, like a gang of undomesticated dogs. And these words, although on the face of it may not appear so, are indeed actionable verbs.
Adapt. And here is what I believe to be a critical question: If we will ultimately be forced to adapt to a highly reduced, wildly unpredictable and dangerous natural world, why don’t we start to adapt now and possibly maintain some planetary integrity? Such adaptations we make now would possibly be less onerous and might even feel refreshing, empowering, in the sense that we had chosen to (and here’s another juicy verb) -
Sacrifice certain things… in order to reach a higher plateau of earthly existence. Often the word adapt means to bend to the exigencies of circumstances. But I choose to apply the more pro-active definition. Adapt should be understood as a more muscular act - bordering on Transform.
These thoughts give rise to another word of import, one typically heard only in the context of battle:
Surrender. And the question is: Have we deeded ourselves rights (planetary) that are not rightfully ours? In fact, we all know the answer. And so surrender becomes a critical verb, as in surrendering those illegitimate rights, such as we have granted ourselves with the word -
Dominion… that impressive word we invented to give ourselves the apparent grounds to traipse, tread and trample this earth with abandon. But again - to surrender, not under fire, is that not a show of strength instead of weakness? The strength of vision and wisdom and grace?
But my final question is, and I’m putting the political back into the personal here - where it belongs - how do I wriggle out of this lamentable condition I’ve posited, that of inaction? Some thoughts:
1) I could head for the hills.
2) I could blather on, raise minuscule alarums and assuage my conscience that I did so, from my Aeron chair.
3) I could form small coteries to blather on, drink cocktails and raise slightly noisier alarums?
4) Or wait - I could attempt to form small coteries to discuss Ideas and Solutions! And issue Manifestos! And yes, also possibly drink Cocktails?!
Yeah, I know, there are millions of activist groups across the planet. And yet none of them seem to have galvanized the magnitude of change required to turn this mothership around from its ill-advised and ill-fated course. And we really don't have time for the gang in D.C., since half their time is focused on re-election, and the rest is lost in pointless jousting matches.
We need a new paradigm for action. This is a mission fueled by necessity, yes, but by hope and joy as well. We can do this. If we can imagine a cleaner, smarter, more unified world - we can make it happen!
And REALIZE MAGAZINE, with a powerful and networked cadre of brilliant boomers, aims to be in the avant-garde, by creating REALIZE EVENTS: part symposium, part salon, part call to action… part party. We say - Change the destiny of mankind, one party at a time:) The key word is Leadership here. Let's find it and use it. Let's keep this planet humming happily for our grandkids.
Please send any thoughts for issues/subjects to discuss. Among our first topics will be 'Whatever Happened to Tele-commuting?"
*eu·kar·y·ote [yoo-kar-ee-oht, -ee-uht] noun Any organism having as its fundamental structural unit a cell type that contains specialized organelles in the cytoplasm, a membrane-bound nucleus enclosing genetic material organized into chromosomes, and an elaborate system of division by mitosis or meiosis, characteristic of all life forms except bacteria, blue-green algae and other primitive microorganisms.