I think I made a terrible blunder. Not a terrible blunder but one that was bad enough. After the Superbowl game, I interrupted a perfectly peaceful campfire with my nephews, David and Nathan, and with Nathan’s girlfriend, Brittany, by talking about my previous day’s blog, about the collapse of our complex society and the destruction of the planet. Campfires are sacred times, and I had no business bringing up such a “depressingly apocalyptic” subject. It was obtuse of me, and I regret the negativity that I added to the circle. I will apologize to all.
I’ve made the same mistake before with David’s mom, Laura Bennie, around a fire at Kerr Lake last summer. I broke an unwritten agreement to make campfires sacred ground where no one brings up negative subjects that spoil the intrinsic beauty and the innate value of the moment. I brought up the uranium mining threat to Kerr Lake, to the very lake she and I loved to swim in; to the lake that we we were peacefully sitting next to.
Somehow, by the orange, crackling fire, with the cool, light, summer night breezes rippling across the dark water, the magic of the moment compelled me to want to talk about the fight to stop uranium, to want to talk about how the lake is worth fighting for. So, compelled by the magic of the moment, I managed to shatter the magic of the moment.
What are my lessons learned? Don’t ruin sacred occasions with depressing talk; be appropriate; have more private campfires. Also, figure out how and when, if ever, is the best time and setting to broach the unhappy subject of the impending global train wreck and what we can do in response.
I may seem to be writing about this train wreck somewhat tongue-in-cheek, yet in no way am I being insincere, ironic, or whimsical. If I could get at the heart of how and when to help people hear and see the unvarnished truth about our planet that is in peril, then I would have the key to building the environmental civil rights movement we need to change the trajectory of our complex, unsustainable consumer society to a more simple, sustainable, less consumer-driven society.
By nature, we human beings want to avoid pain, so awakening the public to potential global doom is not generally welcomed. According to Chris Hedges,
“To emotionally accept impending disaster, to attain the gut-level understanding that the power elite will not respond rationally to the devastation of the ecosystem, is as difficult to accept as our own mortality. The most daunting existential struggle of our time is to ingest this awful truth—intellectually and emotionally—and rise up to resist the forces that are destroying us.”
The million dollar questions, then, are how to educate and mobilize the people and how to inspire them to ”rise up to resist the forces that are destroying us.”