11.723 Southlight 76 I’ve started following the Substack column OK Doomer by Jessica Wildfire. She pulls no punches–especially in this article. She says that we are facing the end of our civilization, and that we’d better start acting like it. She’s absolutely right.
Don’t shut down
People will read those words and immediately shut down. That’s precisely the opposite of what she wants–and what I want.
Chances are that people will miss this very important paragraph in Wildfire’s article. But it’s the most important paragraph in the article.
“I’m writing this for a simple reason. The sooner everyone accepts the end of this civilization, the better. Humans don’t have to go extinct, but the way we’re living has to change. There’s no hope for this way of life, full of reckless consumption and convenience well beyond the planet’s means. The harder we fight, the more denial and delusional thinking we engage in, the worse we’re going to make it. Downplaying the truth has only made things worse. It makes everyone complacent. So, I’m going to explain things in the bluntest way possible.”https://jessicawildfire.substack.com/p/were-living-through-the-end-of-civilization
Note that I have been very deliberate in selecting the top illustration for this post. It shows people holding hands around a bonfire. This, to me, is an image emblematic of the new civilization we must build. We need to reach out beyond our castle prisons, embrace a lower technology lifestyle and embrace each other in ways which used to be normal in society, but not now.
This tendency to want to shut down comes, in part, from the end of civilization theology pushed by Christianity. I would argue that this ideology affects even those who aren’t devout Christians. Just look at in the apocalyptic themes put forward in entertainment and pop culture.
Plus, so many of us feel entrapped in the rat race that it doesn’t feel possible to do anything about this. A nuclear disarmament group I belonged to in the 80s referenced this when they came up with the meme “I’m Too Busy To Be Blown Up.” And many people–particularly on the left side of the (heavily right-tilted) political spectrum in America feel a sense of doom that they think they can do nothing about.
Embrace reality–and each other
The first way to combat this sense of passivity is to realize that embracing today’s reality is, in fact, very liberating. A passive response to the challenges of the day will not make the fear go away. We know this deep down. Acknowledging the challenges is the first step towards making our lives and the lives of others better.
The second step is to connect with others–both online but especially in-person–who understand the nature of the challenges before us. This type of connection leads to dialogue that can help us formulate our responses. It also helps us feel less alone and isolated. We may have to wear our COVID masks when gathering but that is a minor inconvenience. It’s worth it when we know we’re not alone.
It says a lot about human beings that there have been people who have been organizing around these issues for decades. It says a lot about Homo Sapiens that so many of us the foresight to discern the direction that we as a modern civilization are headed. Even if we haven’t yet devised a comprehensive solution to the problem, it is still a huge reason for hope.
The joy of reality
Embracing reality for a much more satisfying life. It is so much better having to constantly look at and navigate around that lump in the carpeting where we swept all of our concerns. The end of our civilization means a beginning for something potentially better, and the sooner we embrace that, the better.
As Pagans, regardless of which tradition we follow, our bottom-line religion has to be reality. If we do not embrace reality, our delusions will only lead us to misery, and, in the worst case, extinction.