This was a post on my Facebook page
Yesterday was Earth day! I was feeling pretty confused and frustrated so I wrote something for other young folks trying to figure out this wild time we're in.
Yesterday, my instagram feed heralded the passage of Earth Day with an endless stream of gorgeous nature pictures. Don’t get me wrong - I’m overjoyed that folks have such wonderful relationships with this magical, unimaginably complex system called Earth. It gives me hope that you recognize her value in a way that the overwhelming majority of adults obviously don’t.
But please know that if you are serious about wanting to protect our mama, it is going to take a lot more than posting nice pictures. It’s going to take some serious discomfort. And not the kind of cold-showering-turnip-eating eco-puritan discomfort like that guy in The Good Place. It’s going to take the kind of emotional discomfort that comes with knowing that our entire way of life is violently at odds with the physical sustainability of our only planet.
All natural systems are in breakdown. The current rate of extinction is thousands of times above what is normal. Millions of fellow humans are already dying and being displaced by the crises that my community, as a privileged Canadian, disproportionately caused. We all need to sit with these facts for a while.
I spent most of my Earth Day feeling burnt out and DONE with thinking way too much about the end of civilization. I’m learning to figure out self care as we desperately stretch trying to figure out how to close the gaping hole of collective, societal care. I want you to understand that this is HARD.
Our generation is being forced to deal with the burden of cognitive dissonance. We have grown up understanding the science that we are in an emergency and yet around us, we see no action being taken that would seem to match this situation in urgency and scale. Who are we supposed to believe? We know that every day that passes means more species extinct forever, that every tick of the clock brings us that much closer to the looming 12 (now 11) year deadline. And yet, life goes on. We have homework to do, and soccer practice to attend. Parents have jobs and taxes; politicians need to fundraise and appease competing interests through compromise. And so the years drag on, each successive government term caving into the demands of the powerful fossil fuel industry and consequently kicking climate action further down the road, like a teenager procrastinating on a final project.
I, of course, love nature too, and have taken my own fair share of breathtaking pictures. And when something I love is hurting, I hurt, too. I take “eco-actions” like biking, eating vegetarian, and avoiding single use plastics (feel proud of yourself for using metal straws? Ask me about my Diva Cup) not because I think doing these things will accomplish do much towards solving these ecological crises we are in, but to reduce the discomfort I feel with myself. Also, these actions all make my life better (have I mentioned my Diva Cup yet?).
The collapse is also not your fault. The solution is not for YOU, PERSONALLY to have shorter showers and swap your light bulbs and write on both sides of the paper. Yes, we all do need to do those things, but they need to arise out of a profound shift in our collective values. The only way organized human civilization has a chance of continuing is if we fundamentally change how our society works - and we do it NOW. The only real solution is revolution.
Environmentalism is not a cute lifestyle choice for the select outdoorsy few. It’s the only rational path forward that exists.
I want you to know that you are not delusional for realizing our society is delusional. If you feel uncontrollably frustrated by overwhelming huge wrongness, you are doing it right. If you feel inextricably confused about how we ever let it get to this, you are doing it right. If you feel like crying, you are doing it right.
And the way to dry those tears is not by ignoring the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced, burying the nagging worries under that pile of unfinished homework or at the bottom of your instagram feed. Nor is the solution to constantly berate yourself, obsessing over your every piece of garbage and drop of water spilt. No. The solution is start organizing. Scientific fact doesn’t change. Society does. And you can be a part of making the latter happen.
The best way to dry tears is on the back of a protest sign, or the banner at an art build. On the pajamas you wore all day because you spent hours on video calls. The shoulder of a new friend. Soon you’ll be shedding tears of love for the power of this community.
Because just as this crisis is overwhelmingly huge, the movement to stop it is wonderfully so. By creating a more just world and desperately trying to chart a rational course for the future of civilization, we are doing the most important thing we could be doing right now. We are coming together to fight for what we love, and I could not imagine a more powerful or fulfilling or beautiful feeling.
So stay connected to all that love you have for beautiful nature, because you’ll need it. It’s the foundation of a new paradigm that we have the duty and opportunity to create, together.