We are facing an existential crisis… it will have a massive impact on our lives in the future, but also now, especially in vulnerable communities. And I think that we should wake up, and we should also try to wake the adults up, because they are the ones who — their generation is the ones who are mostly responsible for this crisis, and we need to hold them accountable.
—Greta Thunberg (11 September 2019)
To the Greta Thunberg’s of our World…
Recently I reread Andrey Platonov’s great work The Foundation Pit, and was reminded of his allegory of Russia; its past, and its future. At the end of it when his young protagonist dies, it’s as if the future of all things died with her. In his slight afterward he would say:
“Will our soviet socialist republic perish like Nastya or will she grow up into a whole human being, into a new historical society? This alarming feeling is what constituted the theme of the work, when the author was writing it. The author may have been mistaken to portray in the form of the little girl’s death the end of the socialist generation, but this mistake occurred only as a result of excessive alarm on behalf of something beloved, whose loss is tantamount to the destruction not only of all the past but also of the future.”
I would only add: Will the earth of our extinction event die with the Greta’s of the world? Or shall we confront this event?
In our own age it’s not only a nation, but the earth herself – and, by that, I mean the earth of our bioenvelope within which we and our non-human neighbors and fellow beings all inhabit; that fragile layer of atmosphere in which all life on planet earth – and, possibly, the only life in our galactic cluster, exists. Then I think of young women and men; of children being born even as I write these words, and wonder if like Platonov it is a mistake to portray a young woman, who for all we know is more than correct in her estimation of our dire situation; her mission to commit herself to the great task of forging a link to others of her generation toward a unity of action: – an impossible dream of changing people’s minds, of changing the world’s leaders minds, of changing the structure of harm and ruin that this late economic system of capitalism and modern instrumentalism has wrought upon the planet’s ecosystems; both technology and its ramifications in industry, and the plunder of the last sustainable resources on our planet, that have cost, and or costing us. Not only that, but we must ask: Is she right in that her generational world, our world of human and non-humans – this earth, might be part of the last generation of living things on planet earth?
Do you know? Are you willing to bet on it not being so? Or do you scoff and laugh and suggest in your comic denialism that cockroaches will still remain to inherit the earth? Or you such a blind bigot of apathy and derision to let all life tilt toward that annihilation and extinction for a mere comic book scenario of cynicism? Or are you willing to join her and commit to changing your behavior, and the behavior of both national and international regimes, toward decelerating this vast technological behemoth of planetary destruction before it is too late? Or, will you continue in your malaise; scoff such apocalyptic imaginaries, and sit back and do nothing; pretend that nothing is wrong with the world, that the world is not moving toward biotic self-destruction? Are you willing to let your children inherit such cynical and apathetic thoughts of their future? Or will you begin thinking again… allowing yourself to truly gaze upon the existential truth of this vast crisis of life and existence without blinkers, filters, or propaganda; look at the facts of our situation rather than turning away in blind denial? Will you begin to estimate the underlying truths of what is being said by Greta and those of her generation – of their right to a future worth living in? Or will you like so many… deny her of that future; pretend that nothing is wrong, the world will never end; that life will go on? Will you deny the truth staring you in the face?
What will you do?
Even if I presented you with all the facts that the sciences have gathered over the past century would you be one of those to scoff at such facts, deny their truth? What will I do? For me it’s finally time to take a stand, to realize my time is close to the end; and, yet, with what little time (at age 68) I have left I stand with Greta and her generation, those who will inherit the horror of my generations inaction; those who will face the existential terror and horrors to come, because we were too cowardly to face and deal with – sitting back in denial, apathy, and unbelief that what is transpiring – an extinction event beyond anything the earth has seen – is here, now, upon us. It’s time to act, to salvage as best we can what remains; time to act and be a voice, and a body in this time of decision; for it is up to us now, not some future time… but now, to act and do and be a solution rather than a perpetrator. Will you act and do something to change the world for Greta and her generation? Or will you sit back and let them inherit our ruins? Do I hold out much hope that you will? No. But then I don’t believe in hope. I believe in the courage of our hopelessness. Do you?
As a pessimist I don’t expect much anymore… I doubt very many will even read this post, much less comment of add their own thoughts one way or the other. Like Zizek I don’t depend on the Big Other anymore; even the thoughts of others… most people don’t want to commit to anything but their own vein existences. That’s to be expected in this cowardly generation we live in. Most turn a blind eye to almost everything. And when one young person arises in our midst and sticks up for her own and her generations lives and futures. Most sit back in utter silence and do nothing. Sad, but true. Our generations apathy is the cause of this shame. We are leaving the ruins of the future to Greta and her generation. In my own mind I can only offer what little I have and am; these mere fragments of thought and care… what else is there?
Yea, I don’t hold out much hope anymore. Sadly politics has become a self-defeating farce for the rich corporations who support both sides of the spectrum; seeking only a centrist muddle and solution of do nothing as usual. People assume something will be done when nothing will be. Defeatist? Yes. I’m guilty. The working class; the people, want win either way. And, sadly, the young like Greta and her generation will inherit only the dust… and ruins of the vast megamachine as it slowly grinds the earth into bones.
So in the end to I only offer the wisdom of dust? No. Because as in all things it doesn’t matter what I offer, or even think; what matters is what Greta and her own generation do… for in the end it is up to them to force this issue, to awaken themselves from the sickness of modernity and this vast wasteland, to heal the earth and bring a new order out of the chaos of this collapsing world of culture and economics. Only the young can do what we have not. If my hope is no more; the only thing that can be offered is
The Courage of Hopelessness
in the Face of this dark future…
there is nothing else!